Citronella has commonly been used as a mosquito repellent, due to its intense aroma, however, its uses have been extended to skin care, among others.

In the following article, we will talk about this plant, its benefits and uses for personal care and even for human health.

What is citronella?

Citronella is an aromatic plant native to southern and eastern India and Sri Lanka , with many varieties including cymbopogon citratus, cymbopogon nardus, and cymbopogon winterianus.

Noteworthy: This herb is also known as lemongrass and its size is about five feet tall, whose greenish leaves exhale a citrus scent.

At first, this plant was used as an insect repellent, but its use has been extended to medicinal treatments to alleviate other common ailments, it is even used in aromatherapy.

Note: Essential oils are extracted from the leaves of this plant , with many therapeutic compounds such as geraniol, nerol, citral, citronellol, among others. (1)

Citronella properties

Citronella is a plant with many applications in traditional medicine and this is due to the properties of its chemical components, providing the following benefits to human health:

1. Antiseptic and antibacterial

Citronella contains interesting compounds, which act as a natural antiseptic and help stop bacterial infections. Citronella essential oil used topically helps fight some skin infections and infused to relieve digestive tract infections. 

You should know: The use of citronella in traditional medicine helps treat bacteria such as helicobacter pylori.

2. Diuretic and antispasmodic

Traditional medicine has described that citronella, due to the amount of chemical components it possesses, can act as a detoxifier, promoting the excretion of metabolic waste from the body.

To highlight: The use of essential oil to perform massages on legs and ankles, stimulates circulation and eliminates fluid retention in the body.

On the other hand, citronella contains myrcene, a compound that appears to be sedative in nature, resulting in muscle relaxation and pain reduction, including those originating in the digestive tract. (two)

3. Digestive and tonic

Traditional medicine has described that the infusion of this plant helps in the digestion process, since it is credited with the ability to regulate the microbiota of the colon, preventing certain digestive problems such as heartburn, abdominal distension, vomiting or the constipation.

Another component of citronella in its essential oil is neriol , a compound with stimulating, tonic and activating properties, it has even been given anti-stress properties.

4. Analgesic and sedative

It has been described that this plant contains analgesic and sedative properties. This can be attributed to its myrcene content , a compound to which analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant properties have been attributed. (3)

You should know: Myrcene is believed to have anti-tumor properties and other health benefits.

What are the benefits of citronella?

Citronella, thanks to its components, provides several health benefits. Here we describe some of them:

1. Fight infections 

As described above, citronella has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which help fight infections, especially on the skin, such as in cases of acne, and in the digestive tract, such as helicobacter pylori infection , the bacterium responsible for gastritis and ulcers. gastric.

2. Reduces headaches, rheumatic and muscular

Thanks to its analgesic and relaxing power, citronella has been indicated to treat headaches, rheumatic and muscular pains. Its myrcene content helps to alleviate migraines and rheumatic pain. 

Highlights: Scientific studies used  human cartilage cells to investigate the potential effects of this terpene on osteoarthritis. Myrcene was found to have an anti-inflammatory influence on cells.

3. Helps improve stomach problems

Citronella infusions are widely recommended by traditional medicine to treat digestive tract ailments such as gastritis and gastrointestinal spasms, caused by heavy meals or poor digestion.

In addition, with its antiseptic properties it helps fight stomach infections caused by the helicobacter pylori bacterium , which causes many stomach discomforts. 

Note: It must be taken into consideration that the citronella infusion is refreshing,  favoring the digestive process.

4. Improves skin conditions

Citronella essential oil is also an excellent astringent and antiseptic to treat some skin conditions such as juvenile acne or hypersweating.   In addition, it is indicated to reduce expression lines, wrinkles, oily skin and chapped lips.

Note: A few drops of citronella essential oil used on the skin is a powerful insect repellent, thanks to its geraniol content.

5. Reduces fatigue and stress

As mentioned above, citronella has calming, sedative, and relaxing effects due to its myrcene content. 

In this sense, citronella oil is used very frequently in aromatherapy, to mitigate the effects of migraines and headaches and is used as a tonic for the Central Nervous System (CNS).

6. Prevents and disinfects insect bites

Citronella oil is used directly on the skin and works as a natural and body repellent, in order to ward off and prevent insect bites or to alleviate infections caused by them. (4)

To highlight: This plant contains geraniol in its leaves , a compound with healing and antiseptic properties, which is extracted from citronella oil, with benefits on human skin.

How is citronella used?

Next, we present the most common ways in which you can safely consume citronella, to protect your health :

1. Citronella infusion

One of the most common ways to use this plant is through the preparation of an infusion which is obtained by placing a handful of its leaves in a container with boiling water for one to two minutes. Then, it is left to rest and can be eaten both hot and cold.

Note. The consumption of citronel infusion is indicated by traditional medicine to treat digestive disorders and some CNS disorders.

2. Citronella oil

You can also prepare citronella oil from its leaves, a very variable substance in its use. To obtain a few drops of this essential oil, a procedure known as “steam drag” is used , which separates the oil through water vapor. 

Important: The use of the essential oil of this plant is topical and should never be ingested.

Key Findings

  • Citronella is mainly used as an insect repellent , especially mosquitoes. 
  • Its essential oil helps fight skin infections . 
  • It has astringent and antibacterial properties and its effectiveness on the helicobacter pylori bacteria has been proven .
  • This plant, consumed as an infusion, has relaxing and sedative effects , contributing to the stability of the Central Nervous System.

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