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Citronella Oil

Ankana Dey Choudhury
What smells like a slightly redolent, woody, lemony, grassy smell to you actually helps keep numerous insects away, and helps pacify your agitated pets. Welcome to the world of citronella essential oil, an anoint derived from 'Cymbopogon nardus' and 'Cymbopogon winterianus' grasses. Find out the basic citronella oil information and its uses from this Story.
Derived by the process of steam distillation from either finely hacked fresh, partially dried, or dried stems and foliage of the 2 varieties of citronella plant called Cymbopogon nardus Rendle and Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt, both the Ceylon citronella oil and Java citronella oils are potent essential oils. About 40% of the total oil today, is produced by China and Indonesia, the rest coming from countries, such as, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Taiwan.
Today, the Java citronella oil is considered to be of a superior quality than the Ceylon variety because the former is composed of citronellal (32 to 45%), citronellol (16%), geraniol (11 to 13%), geranyl acetate (3 to 8%), and limonene (1 to 4%). Since Ceylon citronella oil has a lower content of citronellal (only 5 to 15%) and citronellol (6 to 8%), even though the geraniol content in it is higher (18 to 20%), the Java variety makes for a better source of fragrant chemical derivatives used in the perfume industry as the basic fragrance building blocks.
Besides, the production of Java oil variety is higher than that of the Ceylon variety. Other Ceylon oil information would tell you that it also has a relatively higher composition of monoterpenes, borneol, camphene, citral, citronellic acid, dipentene, elemol, limonene (9 to 11%), methyl iso-eugenol (7 to 11%), and nerol. Let us now see some of the benefits and uses of citronella oil.

The Uses

It is said that, if your dog has taken to digging up your flowerbeds and tidily kept garden, just squirting some citronella oil in the area will help your case immensely. Let us see some other causes that this oil will help.
  • Be it blood sucking mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, or black flies, this oil repels them all. You can keep insects away from yourself by using a topical cream, spray or patch, which has a 10% concentration of the oil, and also keep your dog healthy by using it to get rid of disease-inducing ticks and fleas. Dog collars with citronella oil can be used to do so.
  • Candles and cartridges having the oil, are also widely available today and so are pellets, which can be strewn all around the stables and farms or even garden for that matter, as the elemol and methyl isoeugenol acts as a mosquito larvicide. Flies can be kept away from horses by using fly repellents containing this very oil.
  • 3 drops of the oil on a cotton ball acts as a very potent astringent for the skin. It also works to balance the natural oils of the skin.
  • 3 drops of it mingled with a teaspoonful of sweet orange oil, Virginian cedarwood oil, lemon oil, geranium essential oil, or bergamot oil, and applied at strategic pressure points can alleviate headaches, migraines, and variant joint aches. In fact, ancient Chinese medical treatises talk of using this oil to palliate rheumatic pains.
  • A great aromatherapy oil, it is known to relieve mental and physical stress, when 3 drops of it are mixed with a tablespoon of base oil, like eucalyptus or lavender oil. It relieves fatigue and helps one to think clearly.
  • One can use it as a deodorant, as it curbs excessive perspiration tendencies.
  • It is also a known antimicrobial, antifungal, stomach anthelmintic that also happens to harness fever by acting as a sudorific. It also works to regulate and promote menstrual discharge.
  • This oil is used in perfumery and other toiletries, such as soaps, lotions or bath oils, and salts.
These were by large the commonest uses of citronella oil. To optimize the utilization of this oil, further scientific studies are required.
In spite of the numerous benefits of citronella oil, one is advised not to consume it, as lab results have shown that 4600 mg/kg and 7200 mg/kg have proven to be a lethal dose in case of mice and rats respectively, while rabbits were rendered comatose with a dose of only 1 to 4 ml/kg of this oil. Besides, at least 1 child has been reported dead after consuming this oil in medical history. For safety purposes, expecting and lactating mothers should keep away from this oil.
Also, do not use it on children below the age threshold of 3 even for the purpose of mosquito repulsion. Keep it away from fire, as it is flammable. Finally, as an added safety measure, do not use this oil for prolonged aromatherapy sessions, as there exists a theory that it exhilarates only in the beginning and then goes on to induce central nervous system depression, which has dire consequences, such as breathing problems, reduced heart rate, and can lead to unconsciousness.
So, it is recommended that you seek the guidance of a proper health care provider or aromatherapist before going on to use this very beneficial oil. Since, there still has to be more studies in order to unveil all the characteristics of the oil of citronella, one must practice caution even though there may not be any side effect at all.