Citronella essential oil: benefits and how to use

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Citronella essential oil has several medicinal benefits, however, its most widespread use is as a repellent and insecticide.

But it also promotes pain relief, especially those caused by rheumatism, and is considered a powerful antiseptic, acting against fungi and mites, which cause respiratory allergies.

Learn more about the uses and benefits of oil extracted from citronella leaves below.

Benefits of citronella essential oil

Insect repellent

Citronella essential oil is an almost indispensable ingredient in repellents and commercial insecticides and this is due to the composition of the substance, which is basically formed by volatile compounds.

These compounds are odorous, that is, they release a certain aroma that serves as a communication for animal species. ( 1 )

Citronella is rich in citronellol , almost 40% of its total composition. Compounds such as geraniol, D-limonene and some types of acetates are also found, in different amounts.

These substances are not only able to repel insects, by warning through the odor that it is a toxic plant for them, but also to exterminate these animals and their larvae. ( 2 )

It also manages to repel weevils , resistant species of insects, which often invade grains and legumes such as rice and beans. ( 3 )

Relieves the pain

Citronella essential oil is able to inhibit the production of prostaglandin, a substance that initiates the symptoms of inflammation and causes pain .

The antioxidant effect of citronellal and citronellol prevents the activity of free radicals. These substances are naturally produced by the body when cells degrade, but they cause a lot of damage. Their excess is also verified in episodes of pain.

Allied to this, some components of the essential oil act on the nervous system and reduce the sensation of pain, similarly to synthetic analgesics . ( 4 )

It is a potent antiseptic

Citronella oil is also used in cleaning products, as geraniol, one of the main compounds of the plant, has a strong action against the proliferation of microorganisms.

It prevents the multiplication of bacteria that cause stomach and respiratory problems, being considered an efficient antiseptic for topical use, and as an antibiotic, inhibiting the life cycle of invading microorganisms in the body. ( 5 )

Prevents the proliferation of fungi and mites

Citronella oil has antifungal action, able to combat fungi causing mold , inhibiting their growth. The main compounds responsible for this action are linalool and citronellol. ( 6 )

The same effect is seen in mites. The oil eliminates these parasites that mainly cause respiratory and skin problems. ( 7 )

5- It has a calming and relaxing effect

Citronellol, present in citronella oil, decreases brain excitation , bringing the relaxation effect . It can alleviate seizures, a common symptom in many neurological diseases, and it also has antidepressant potential. ( 8 )

Aids in weight loss

The essential oil of citronella, when inhaled, also helps with weight loss and lowering cholesterol as it speeds up fat burning.

The benefit is associated with the action of herb oils, mainly citronellol, in stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This mechanism is also associated with decreased appetite.

Thus, inhaling the oil can be of great help in losing body weight. ( 9 )

How to use oil?

Essential oils are often used for aromatherapy , topical application in pain massage , applying directly to fungi or mites or in the production of candles and other types of natural repellents. ( 2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 9 )

If you want to consume the essential oil, the ideal is to make citronella tea , which is made with the fresh leaves of the plant, as this is where the substances are more concentrated.

Citronella repellent


  • 20 drops of citronella essential oil
  • 25 ml of grain alcohol.

Preparation mode

Mix the essential oil with the alcohol and place in a container suitable for room diffuser. The alcohol will evaporate and release the oil into the environment, keeping insects away.

Citronella candle


  • 80 grams of solid paraffin
  • 3 ml of citronella essential oil
  • Wick.

Preparation mode

Melt the paraffin in a bain-marie until you have a clear liquid, always stirring to prevent the paraffin from burning. Add citronella oil and mix well.

Then simply pour the mixture into candle molds or deep cupcake pans and place the wick. To keep it in place, use a clothespin.

The next step is to let it dry for at least 24 hours and unmold. You can add coloring if you want colored candles.

Where to find

The essential oil can be found in essence and herbal and natural products stores .

Are there any contraindications?

There are no contraindications for using citronella essential oil. ( 10 )

However, people sensitive to essential oil components may have allergies. If this happens, it is necessary to discontinue use and seek medical advice.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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