Citronella Oil

What other names is Citronella Oil known by?

Aceite de Citronela, Andropogon nardus, Ceylon Citronella, Citronnelle de Ceylan, Citronnelle de l'Inde, Citronnelle de Java, Cymbopogon afronardus, Cymbopogon nardus, Cymbopogon validus, Cymbopogon winterianus, Herbe Citron, Huile de Citronnelle, Java Citronella, Jonc Odorant, Verveine des Indes.

What is Citronella Oil?

Citronella oil is made by steam distillation of certain species of grasses in the Cymbopogon grouping of plants. Ceylon or Lenabatu citronella oil is produced from Cymbopogon nardus, and Java or Maha Pengiri citronella oil is produced from Cymbopogon winterianus. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) also belongs to this grouping of plants, but it is not used to make citronella oil.

Citronella oil is used to expel worms or other parasites from the intestines. It is also used to control muscle spasms, increase appetite, and increase urine production (as a diuretic) to relieve fluid retention.

Some people apply citronella oil directly to the skin to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.

In foods and beverages, citronella oil is used as a flavoring.

In manufacturing, citronella oil is used as a fragrance in cosmetics and soaps.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Preventing mosquito bites when applied to the skin. Citronella oil is an ingredient in some mosquito repellents you can buy at the store. It seems to prevent mosquito bites for a short amount of time, typically less than 20 minutes. Other mosquito repellents, such as those containing DEET, are usually preferred because these repellents last much longer.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Worm infestations.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Spasms.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of citronella oil for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideBad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

Bad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

How does Citronella Oil work?

There isn't enough information available to know how citronella oil works.

Are there safety concerns?

Citronella oil seems to be safe for most people in the small amounts found in foods. It's UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts.

Citronella oil seems to be safe for most people when applied to the skin as an insect repellent. However, it might cause skin allergies in some people.

It's UNSAFE to inhale citronella oil. Lung damage has been reported.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: It's UNSAFE to give citronella oil to children by mouth. There are reports of poisoning in children, and one toddler died after swallowing insect repellent that contained citronella oil.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of citronella oil during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Dosing considerations for Citronella Oil.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For preventing mosquito bites: citronella oil in concentrations of 0.5% to 10%.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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