Citronella Oil: Uses in Aromatherapy

Citronella grass

Citronella grass

Aromatherapy utilizes airborne compounds and odors made by heating an oil or substance for a variety of purposes. Citronella oil is derived from plants of the genus Cymbopogan. There are two species that serve as a source of citronella oil, Cymbopogan nardus (Ceylon type) and Cymbopogan winterianus (Java type or maha pengri). They are cultivated in several countries including Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Africa, Vietnam, Central and parts of South America for use in aromatherapy. The oil is obtained via steam distillation from fresh to partly dry blades of the grass. The plant itself is known as a natural insect repellant and extracts were used as a natural spray for crops. It can repel mosquitoes, ants, moths, flies, and fleas.

Citronella oil is composed of different compounds depending on the species used. Cymbopogan nardus contains geraniol, limonene, citronellal, citronellol and methyl isoeugenol. Cympbopogan winterianus contains higher percentages of geraniol and citronellal.

Citronella oil can be applied topically to wound to hasten healing and prevent infections. It can be drunk diluted to water to cleanse the digestive system and can act as a diuretic to induce urination. Drinking it as a tonic could also help expel intestinal worms and other parasites. Application of the oil in the scalp and skin would get rid of body lice and fleas as well as repelling mosquitoes for up to an hour. Used on the face, it can help to tighten the pores and shield against bacteria. Applied to the underarms, it can be a refreshing alternative to commercial deodorants.The oil is used in aromatherapy to aid in the remedy of various illnesses as well as to prevent the onset of disease. It is similar in odor to citrus but less heavy. It is sometimes used to mask strong odors around the house or inside a particular room. Inhaling the fragrance made by citronella oil can improve resistance to common flu, cough and colds. It can clear a room of insects particularly mosquitoes and flies while imbuing the room with a pleasant odor. Smelling citronella oil can also boost the immune system as well as improving blood circulation. It produces a feeling of warmth and vigor to most users.

Experiencing aromatherapy using citronella oil would help against infections, both fungal and bacterial. It can also help improve the digestive process. The fragrance of citronella oil helps ease away stress and improve one’s mood. Inhaling the fragrance can also ease chest congestion.

For women with irregular periods or for those who experience menstrual cramps, citronella oil can ease the pain of severe menstruation while regulating the periodicity of the menstruation cycle (emmenagogue).

Citronella essential oil can be combined with other essential oils like lemon, Scotch pine and geranium to achieve the desired fragrance and to make a remedy for a particular illness. Cedar wood, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils would also blend well with citronella oil.

The oil itself can be used to massage sore areas, like joints and muscles to relieve swelling and ease pain. It can protect against skin infections from both fungi and microbes.

Citronella oil has many health benefits, especially when used in aromatherapy. Cheap, easy to obtain and versatile, citronella oil is a very good choice when it comes to aromatherapy. Its various other uses make it a beneficial asset in any household. Having a handy bottle of citronella oil will clear your house of pesky insects, while imbuing it with a wholesome fragrance that will certainly uplift spirits. If you’re looking to star an aromatherapy experience, citronella oil is a good one to start since it can accommodate various other oils.


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  • Lawless, Julia (1995). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK.  Thorsons
  • Mukherjee, Aparup. The health benefits of Citronella essential Oil. Retrieved from