Product Type: Care in Health Therapies / Treatments
Newest Review: ... essential oil is considered to be non-irritant and non-toxic aromatherapy oil but it may cause dermatitis in som... more
Not just for keeping insects at bay
Member Name: jillycat
Advantages: Keeps insects at bay heals skin and gets rid of nasty smells
Disadvantages: A good oil but not my favorite scent
What is it?
Citronella is obtained from a scented grass called Cymbopogon nardus. This is a grass that grows in the wild in countries like Sir Lanka Java and Burma. The oil that is distilled from the leaves is a yellow brown colour that has a very strong lemony scent. Some people however think it smells a bit like wet grass. I personally think it is a combination of the two. The lemon scent of it is balanced out by grass I think and it certainly doesn't smell to me at least like freshly squeezed lemons. The oil compared to other is quite a thin and viscous oil that is absorbed quickly into the body.
The use of Citronella in aromatherapy
Most people associate citronella with its insect repellent properties but it does have several other benefits too these include being capable of healing and forming scar tissue. It is also has antiseptic, bactericidal, diuretic properties. Some books and references also suggest that it can be used to treat fevers and colds though I have never used it for these reasons. Some people also suggest it can be used to help rheumatism but I have to say I prefer other oils for this such as Chamomile or Lavender as they are more relaxing I find.
Citronella essential oil is considered to be non-irritant and non-toxic aromatherapy oil but it may cause dermatitis in some cases. Citronella should be avoided during pregnancy. The other contraindication is it shouldn't be used if you have heart problems as it can speed up the heart rate according to some studies.
How I use this oil
As with the majority of people I mainly use this oil in the summer to keep midges and other pesky flying insects at bay. I tend to do this several ways the first is if I am out in the garden I will use some of this in a diffuser to burn and keep them away. I equally will use it neat in some drops on wooden furniture as it soaks in well and seems to leave a pleasant aroma around that stops the midges coming near.
The other way at home I use it is if we are sleeping with the windows open on a night I put a couple of drops on the a cotton wool ball and place these in the pillow and duvet to keep the flying pests away and this does seem to work as I never wake up with bites.
The oil is however not only good for keeping them away but if you are unfortunate to get bitten I find that applying a few drops neat to the skin takes away the itchy sensation and helps it heal up faster as citronella is an antiseptic as well. The other benefit of using this oil for this purpose is it reduces the effects of scar tissue so if you have scratched you should find you don't get a nasty scar where the bite has been. What I would say though is if you are using this on children under 8 is to mix it with a carrier oil first as they have more sensitive skin a ration of 10 drops per 25 mls of carrier oil like olive oil should stop any nasty effects.
In the summer when my feet are prone unfortunately to cheesy sweaty smells I try to combat the smell and freshens them up with a mixture of unscented body lotion and citronella and lavender oil. This does seem to make them feel a bit less smelling and they do feel refreshed.
I have also used citronella to treat fungal infections on the skin this is done by applying diluted citronella oil (10 drops per 25 mls of carrier oil) on the affected area using a cotton bud. The reason I use this diluted is often fungal infections like athletes foot cause the skin to crack and break and it is better to use this diluted than on raw flesh in my opinion. Applying this daily to my husband's feet helped the small area clear up in about a week.
Some people find that it is a good oil for reliving mental stress and anxiety and whilst I find this a nice oil to make me feel alert I personally prefer the scent of say Clary sage for when I am feeling stressed.
When I was doing my aromatherapy course I used this oil on someone with rheumatic problems and mixed 50 ml of vegetable oil and 20 drops of citronella. I then rubbed this into the affected joints and area the patient did report it being warming and soothing for her but this is the limit of my experience of using this oil for that treatment.
The final ways I use this oil are not for health reasons but I thought I would mention them as it maybe helpful to people. The first is if I have cats coming into my garden to do their business a few drops of this oil on the soil every couple of days seem to discourage them. I would say do this for a month till their in new habits. The other use is mixed with some vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect surfaces. In the summer months I have tried using this mixture on my windows to try to keep the insects at bay and clean the windows at the same time and it does seem to work a treat. As the smell is strong and deodorizing it can also be used to place a few drops in your garbage bin to keep smells at bay in hot weather. It can be used to treat fleas in animals but my cat never sits still for me to brush this though her so I stick to vet preparations for this.
Overall and recommendation
At around £5 for a 10ml bottle this is one of the cheaper aromatherapy oils but due to its benefits in getting rid of insects and reducing nasty whiffs and smells I do think it is an essential oil to keep in your cupboards. I would definitely recommend buying some of this oil to keep in your medicine cupboard as it helps keep the insects at bay, heals any bites and if you have smelly feet in summer like me it reduces and deodorises the nasty smells.
Summary: A useful oil to keep in the house especially in summer
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