Citronella is a family member of the Poaceae plant, otherwise known as the Graminaceae plant family. Citronella commonly grows in Sri Lanka, where cultivation of this plant happens in large quantities especially in the southern part of Sri Lanka. Citronella also grows in lesser quantities in Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Central America, Java and some parts of the African continent.
It is also used essentially for oil purposes as it is found to be an effective treatment for rheumatic pain in the tradition of Chinese herbal medicine practices. In numerous cultures and countries, the citronella leaves have been used for both aromatic therapy and for medicinal purposes like for treating menstruation problems, digestive problems, fevers, intestinal parasites and insect repellant.
The present day citronella species came from the ‘managrass’, a wild growing plant in Sri Lanka. The aromatic oil of citronella is distilled by steaming from partly dried or dried fresh grass and emits a very relaxing lemon-citrus odor. It is said that the citronella from the Java species can produce twice aromatic power than those from the Sri Lanka citronella species.
Citronella is used widely for aromatherapy because it has cicatrisant oil, which is capable of forming and healing scar tissues; it is also diuretic, antiseptic, insecticide – for repelling insects, deodorant, bactericidal and emmenagogue.
For use in aromatherapy, citronella’s oil is used mainly for treating fevers and cold, headaches, migraine, excessive perspiration, neuralgia and as a repellant to insects like mosquitoes. All of these citronella purposes make it as one of the more useful aromatherapy herbal medicines in the world today. Its essential oil helps cure body tissues and protects skin from fleas, moths, ants, flies, mosquitoes that can cause dengue in both the household and as plant protection as well. It is also found to be a good replacement for skin lotion as the oil contents of citronella helps inject healthy nutrients into the skin making it look healthier.
The citronella species found in Sri Lanka is also widely used in alcoholic drinks and other food products as added ingredients because of its healthy nutrient contents. The specie in Java meanwhile is used more as a way to isolate citronellol and natural geraniol. Aside from its aromatherapy use, the citronella oil extract is also used in manufacturing perfumes. In the old days, citronella was also used as ingredients for chemical spray.
Citronella was also proven in both scientific and medical research to be a very safe for aromatherapy use. The US Environmental Protection Agency has released a study result affirming that the citronella oil has almost none existent toxicity level and the small level of toxicity it contains could not cause harmful results to anyone when used for aromatherapy treatment and as insect repellant. The study showed that using citronella does not produce any harmful and adverse side effects in a period spanning 60 years.
Citronella though not that widely existing in every part of the world and only grows in certain locations is a very important plant species as it can be very helpful in treating certain conditions and for enriching the world’s aromatherapy treatment choices.