Wow, what perfect weather for some outside fun! It’s warm, but not hot. The sun is perfectly shaded and framed by a mix of cumulus and altostratus clouds. A slight breeze grazes everything gently and sporadically — a very slight breeze — in fact, a little too slight. Even this pesky little mosquito in front of my face seems wholly unperturbed by such an insignificant little breeze. Ah, snap — there’s another one! Suddenly, they’re everywhere!
We’ve all had a cookout, hike, or other outdoor excursion severely hampered by the presence of mosquitos. And we’ve all tried greasy, chemically toxic, and downright stinky sprays to try and protect ourselves from them. Surely, there has got to be a better way — Citronella to the rescue!
Yes, most of us have heard of this highly regarded natural remedy by now. Citronella Oil has been recognized for centuries as a safe way to mitigate pesky little pests naturally and effectively, while also offering an array of other benefits to the user. Some of its other valuable abilities include fever reduction as well as anti-parasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.* Its unique essence seems specifically engineered by nature for humans to enjoy, while simultaneously deterring a few of our most annoying non-human agitators. Let’s take a closer look at this handy little tool from the essential oil toolkit.
What are the Varieties of Citronella? How does Citronella differ from Lemongrass?
Let’s start out by pointing out that Citronella comes in two distinct species: Citronella Java and Citronella Ceylon. While the Java variety (Cymbopogon winterianus) is cultivated in Indonesia and India, the Ceylon variety (Cymbopogon nardus) is native to Sri Lanka but also grows throughout tropical parts of Asia and Africa. The main distinction between these two, aside from geographical location, comes down to each existing as a slightly different chemical profile combination of compounds. Both work well in cosmetic and perfumery applications. However, Amrita Aromatherapy elects to utilize the Ceylon variety, as it is more sustainably sourced while maintaining a suitably balanced concentration of aromatic compounds for most therapeutic overall benefits to the user.
Citronella is also similar and closely related to Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) but retains its own distinct genetic blueprint. This plant and its aforementioned relatives all reside within the Poaceae family of grasses. While they tend to share some of the same inherent qualities, each species also exhibits its own specific brand of properties. This article will focus on Citronella Ceylon (Cymbopogon nardus), which is comprised of the following chemical composition: citronellal, geraniol, geranyl acetate, citronellol, and limonene among others.
The plant from which Amrita’s Citronella Essential Oil is derived produces lovely pink or tan blooms in ideal tropical settings, but rarely blooms when grown as a houseplant. The aerial parts of the plant (sourced from India in this case) provide the base material from which the oil is obtained. A pleasantly sweet aroma generally accompanies its charming, grassy décor, hinting at the inherently beneficial properties just waiting to be accessed within the realm of aromatherapy and remedial essential oil applications.
Citronella is a term coined by the French around the 19th Century, meaning “lemon balm.” But long before its widespread use had reached Europe, people throughout Africa, China, India, and Southern Asia had relied on it heavily for deterring mosquitoes which are notorious carriers and spreaders of malaria. Additionally, this compound had long demonstrated other benefits and uses. Health-wise, it was used for the mitigation of fevers, digestive ailments, headaches, rheumatism, and infections, as it also demonstrated anti-parasitic, antifungal, and antibacterial qualities.* Citronella found its way into many culinary, cosmetic, and perfumery settings as well. The bible makes mention of Citronella, as well as other historical data, proving that it has a long-lived reputation for aiding a variety folks throughout time.
Today, there are many products which tout the safe and pleasant addition of this highly reputable substance as an ingredient, though many fall short of the purity standards offered by Amrita’s Citronella Essential Oil. Some dog owners utilize Citronella collars as a more humane alternative to shock collars in mitigating excessive barking. Another known trick for pet training is to apply a diluted mist onto furniture to dissuade persistent pups from climbing on. It is advised, however, that it may not be a good idea to administer these techniques on cats, which have displayed mild reactions to the essential oil.
What are the Therapeutic Benefits of using Citronella?
The grassy, citrusy, and lemony aroma provided by Citronella is quite pleasant, lending itself to a relaxing effect for some while energizing others. Either way, most will note its ability to help tackle fevers and headaches in the process.* But while the aroma is alluring to us, it conveniently has the opposite effect on an array of smaller, more bothersome creatures. As it persistently patrols against pests, this powerful essence will also help deter seasonal cold / flu and other airborne illnesses while supporting overall respiratory health.*
Because Citronella Essential Oil exhibits antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic properties, it is a godsend for the cleansing of skin wounds and deterring infections when applied topically.* This also aids in the quickening of the healing process for such conditions. Focus on areas of muscle or joint soreness, rheumatic or otherwise, to employ its anti-inflammatory abilities in the battle against pain.* All in all, Citronella seems to be tailored to specific needs and preferences of human beings who are seeking pleasurable relief and respite from a few of the peskier facets of daily life.
How would you use Citronella?
Citronella Essential Oil can be applied using a variety of methods. When diffused into the surrounding atmosphere, the user will enjoy an engaging aroma which helps to stabilize the mood, reduce fever, relieve headaches, and promote respiratory health while deterring illness, even mosquitoes and other bugs are put off by the same scent.* When applied topically to the skin it will provide the same bug deterring capabilities while also cleansing superficial wounds, deterring infections, and mitigating pains, including those associated with rheumatism.* Let’s explore some of the methods of application, as well as how and why each could be used.
- Overall Topical Application: 2%
- Citronella is safe to be applied topically to the skin if it is properly diluted. Focus on areas where cuts, scrapes, abrasions, or bug bites need cleansed naturally and assisted with regeneration.* Apply to areas of persistent muscle pain, or joint pain associated with rheumatism to unlock its anti-inflammatory potential.* And of course, enjoy its time-tested ability to deter bugs, maximizing your comfort outdoors or anywhere else irksome little biters may reside. Dilution for this method should be no more than 2% (10 drops per tablespoon of any carrier oil).
- Whole Body Massage Application: 1-2% Dilution
- Citronella Essential Oil is also well-suited for the whole-body massage method of application. While activating its aforementioned capabilities for bug-deterrence, this method will also employ other benefits to the skin such as the deterrence of bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections while safely cleansing the skin.*
- Fevers, headaches, sore muscles, aching joints, and more will be mitigated from this technique, all while the user enjoys its mood stabilizing properties.* Dilution for this method should be no more than 1-2% (5-10 drops per tablespoon of any carrier oil).
- Aromatic Bath Application: up to 2% Dilution
- Another popular method of application for the utilization of Citronella is that of the aromatic bath. Not only will this avail the user to the mood stabilizing, pain relieving, fever reducing, bug deterring, and skin cleansing power of this brilliant compound, but it will unlock the respiratory benefits as well.* This means symptoms of seasonal illnesses can be mitigated and deterred while overall respiratory health is promoted.* Some will experience a calming effect while others notice an energizing effect on the mind, body, and spirit, but most will agree that the impressive essence provided via the aromatic bath method is one of undeniable pleasure.* Dilution for this method should be no more than 2% (up to 10 drops added to bath salts or bath milk before adding to full bath).
- Diffusion / Inhalation Application: add a few
drops to a Nebulizer or Nasal Inhaler
- Diffusing Citronella Essential Oil into the surrounding atmosphere is a great way to deter bugs, not just from oneself, but from an entire area.* Send a clear message to mosquitoes, fruit flies, etc., that they are not welcome in whatever environment the essence of this magical oil inhabits.
- Nasally inhaling the essence is the most direct way to experience the respiratory benefits inherent within the plant. Also, note its ability to reduce fever and relieve headache, all while providing refreshing effects to the nervous system.* The citrusy scent of Citronella, whether acting alone or paired with others, will no doubt prove itself to play a central role within your aromatherapy regimen’s cast of characters.
What would blend well with Citronella?
Citronella Essential Oil blends swimmingly with many other oils. Considered a “top note” on the aromatic spectrum, it blends quite well with “base” and “middle” notes. For instance, try blending with Lavender (middle note) and Lemongrass (base note) to create a combination conducive to relaxation and anxiety relief.* Mix with Cypress (middle) and Eucalyptus (base) to create a blend that’s laser focused on respiratory health.* One could also try experimenting with blending Rosemary (middle) and Cedar (base) alongside Citronella to create a maximally safe and effective insect deterrent.* Biggest advice to remember: Citronella blends well with all types of Eucalyptuses.
Here are a few DIY recipes for you to try in your nebulizer:
Final Thoughts from the Amrita Team
We always crave simple solutions to life’s problems! Headaches are one of life’s problems, mosquitoes are one of life’s headaches, and each one of these contributes to pain and anxiety. Well, guess what? Citronella Essential Oil is curiously effective for combatting mosquitoes, headaches, pain, AND anxiety!* So, breathe easy (which is another thing Citronella can help you with!) and add it to your daily aromatherapy regimen now!* We suppose we’ll quit “bugging” you about it for now…
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.