Essential Oil of Citronella (Cymbopogon nerds)


Family: Graminae

Origin: Sri Lanka and Java

Plant description: A hardy grass reaching to about 3 feet with long slender leaves that eventually flower.

Part of plant used for essential oil: Grass

Extraction method: Steam

Main Chemical Constituents: Citronellic (acid), borneol, citronellol, geraniol, nerol (alchohols), citral, cintronellal (aldehydes), camphene, dipentene, limonene (terpenes).

PRECAUTIONS: Skin irritant. Tisserand and Young indicate there is a risk of drug interaction when using citronella oil and recommend a dermal maximum of 18.2%

PROPERTIES: Antidepressant, antiseptic, deodorant, insecticide, parasiticide, tonic, stimulant, antifungal, antiphlogistic.



Circulation/Muscles/Joints: Balances the heart and is useful for rheumatic aches and pains. Provides relief from muscle spasms.

Immune System: Could be useful at the end of illness to restore tone, spirit and equilibrium. Its antiseptic qualities will help keep germs away when diffusing. Research shows that it has potent antifungal properties and helps suppress the growth of fungi such as Aspergillus, Penicilium, and Erotium.

Mental/Emotional: Clears and uplifts the mind which can be helpful for people struggling with depression. Could be useful for headaches and neuralgia because of its effect on the mind.

Digestive: Inhibits inflammation in the liver, stomach and digestive tract.

Reproductive: Provides relief from menstrual cramps

Skin care: One of its most well-known uses is as an insect repellant. Great to diffuse on hot summer days to keep mosquitoes away. It is also useful to rid fleas and ticks from pets. It is said to help reduce perspiration.


About this essential oil: According to a paper in the Journal of Advanced Research, citronella oil is noted for its efficiency in repelling mosquitoes and in this study it provided 2 hours of repellency. In another study it was found that when citronella is combined with vanillin, it can provide up to 3 hours of protection against mosquitoes. These protection times are comparable to DEET which is commonly found in bug repellents.



  1. The Directory of Essential Oils- Wanda Sellar page 50-51



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