Citronella is native to and cultivated in Sri Lanka, particularly in the south of the island. Another variety of citronella, which is grown in Java, Vietnam, South and Central America – Cymbpogon winterianus – is also used to produce oil. Citronella belongs to the plant family Poaceae (Gramineae)
Citronella Citronella is a perennial grass with aromatic leaves. The plant has a long history of use in the traditional herbal medicine of the countries in which it grows for the treatment of digestive problems and intestinal parasites and to combat fever. It is also used as an insect repellent.
Essential oil of citronella is produced by the process of steam distillation from the leaves – either fresh, partially dried or dried. The oil is yellow in color and smells fresh and lemony.
Essential oil of citronella is used in the manufacture of some proprietary insect repellents. It is also used in household cleaning products and soaps.
Citronella is used primarily for skin care in aromatherapy. It is antiseptic and bactericidal and can be used to treat oily skin that is prone to spots. The oil is also useful as a deodorizer.
Citronella is a very effective insect repellent when well diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin. It can also be used in a vaporizer to deter insects from entering a room. It is an extremely useful oil to have in the home for this reason, especially in the summer months. Some gardeners use citronella to stop cats from digging around plants in the garden.
Used in a compress, citronella can help relieve headaches and migraine. The effect of the oil is uplifting and can help to cheer the spirits.
Suitable methods of use
- Massage (dilute well)
- Skin care
Warning: Avoid during pregnancy (citronella is an emmenagogue). Can cause skin irritation, so always dilute well.