Citronella is a grass that grows in mainly in some Asian countries and some islands of Asia Pacific. It has a rich, crisp lemony aroma and thus got the name Citronella. The Essential Oil of Citronella is extracted from two varieties of citronella. The first one is the Ceylon variety, whose scientific name is Cymbopogon Nardus and the second one is Java variety, called Cymbopogon Winterianus in botanical terminology. In both the cases, the essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh plant. While the first variety yields an oil whose main components are citronellol, citronellal, geraniol, limonene and methyl isoeugenol, the oil obtained from the second variety contains citronellal, geraniol, geranyl acetate and limonene as its chief constituents, with geraniol and citronellal higher in concentrations than the former variety. Hence, the oil obtained from the Java variety is considered better in quality. The main producers of this essential oil are China and Indonesia. This oil is also produced by certain other Asian, South & Latin American and African countries.
Apart from being used as a flavouring agent for foods & beverages, it has varied medicinal uses, which are listed below.
* Anti Bacterial: Components like methyl isoeugenol and a few others, found in this essential oil, are responsible for this property. They kill bacteria and inhibit bacterial growth in the body. This is particularly helpful in treating infections in wound, colon, urethra, urinary bladder, stomach, intestines, urinary tracts, prostrate and kidneys.
* Anti Depressant: This oil fights depression and gives relief from anxiety, sadness, negative feelings etc. It induces a fresh, happy feeling and hope.
* Anti Septic: The anti septic properties of this essential oil fights infections in the wounds, urinary tracts, urethra, prostrate and kidneys etc. and protects them from being septic.
* Anti Spasmodic: It relieves spasms of the muscles, respiratory system and the nervous system. It also helps cure menstrual spasm and gives relief from symptoms such as cramp, coughs etc.
* Anti Inflammatory: It sedates inflammations. Particularly those pertaining to the liver, stomach, intestines and other parts of the digestive system. The inflammations caused to side effects of drugs, excessive use of alcohol or narcotics, hard & spicy food, any disease or any toxic element getting into the body, can be sedated using this oil.
* Deodorant: The crisp, rich citrus or lemon like aroma of this oil drives away body odour and is used in deodorants and body sprays, although in very small quantities, since it heavy doses it may give skin irritations. It can also be mixed with the bathing water to have a refreshing, body odour ending bath.
* Diaphoretic: The diaphoretic properties of this essential oil increases sweating and promotes removal of toxins and other unwanted stuff like excess water, fat and salts from the body. This makes the body feel lighter, keeps the skin healthy and also reduces fever. This also protects you from certain infections.
* Diuretic: The increase in the frequency and quantity of urination due to this property of Citronella Essential Oil has many benefits. It disposes waste substances and toxins from the body, such as uric acid, excess bile and acids, salts etc. as well as water and fats. This helps reduce weight, drain out infections in the urinary system, frees the body from toxins, reduce chances of renal calculi, rheumatism and arthritis, improves digestion and keeps the heart healthy.
* Febrifuge: While the diaphoretic property of this oil increases perspiration, anti inflammatory property reduces inflammation and the anti microbial property fights infections, the combined effect of these three properties fights fever and reduces body temperature.
* Fungicidal: This oil kills fungus and inhibits fungal growth. This is very useful in countering fungal infections in the ear, nose and throat region (the fungal infection in ears is very common and is a serious one too) and other parts too and helps cure fungal dysentery.
* Insect Repellant: This is one of the most used properties of this essential oil, as it kills and keeps away insects. It has been found particularly effective on a species of mosquito, called Aedes Aegypti whose bite causes the dreaded Yellow Fever. This is also effective on lice, body and head louse, fleas etc.
* Stomachic: The use of this oil frees stomach from infections and other problems and helps it function properly.
* Stimulant: The stimulating effect of the Essential Oil of Citronella stimulates blood circulation, secretions and discharges like hormones and enzymes from the glands, brain and the nervous system and other functions. This also stimulates the immune mechanism and the metabolism of the body.
* Tonic: This property is meant for the overall toning effect on the body. It tones up digestion, excretion, nervous system and the brain and fortifies the body.
* Vermifuge: The Citronella Essential Oil kills intestinal worms. It should be administered in mild doses to children (children are most prone to worms). It is effective on both round worms and tape worms. Since presence of worms interfere with the normal physical and mental growth and also with the absorption of nutrients by the body, the use of this oil can promote this obstructed growth by eliminating worms.
* Other Benefits: Further, this oil can be used in treatment of problems like oily skin, oily hair, abnormal palpitations, colitis, migraine, neuralgia, fatigue, headache, nausea, abdominal pain resulting from gas or cramps etc.
Few Words of Caution: No toxicity but seen to produce irritation, dermatitis or sensitization in skin if used in higher concentrations. It should not be used on skin of small children and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Blending: The Essential Oil of Citronella forms good blends with the essential oils of cedar wood, clary sage, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, peppermint and rosemary and tea tree.