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.
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.
How does it work?
There isn’t enough information available to know how citronella oil works.
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.
- Other conditions.
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).
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.
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.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
Fradin MS, Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito bites. N Engl J Med 2002;347:13-8. View abstract.
Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Recommendations for the Prevention and Treatment of Malaria Among International Travellers. Available at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/04vol30/30s1/page2_e.html (Accessed 24 May 2005).
Public Health Agency of Canada. Safety Tips on Using Personal Insect Repellents Available at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/wn-no/repellents-insectifuge_e.html. (Accessed 24 May 2005)