Citronellol is an alcohol found in citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, and rose.
Alcohols are the most therapeutically beneficial type of component in an essential oil, and have a low toxicity for safer use with fragile populations (like the elderly). Alcohols can be sensitizing when oxidized, so proper storage is important.
Links to Plants Containing Citronellol
The listings of research below represent a compilation of scientific articles found on the topic, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. This compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use of any herb listed.
ANTIMICROBIAL / ANTIFUNGAL / ANTIVIRAL
- Cedrus atlantica (cedarwood), Styrax tonkinensis (benzoin resinoid), Juniperus communis (juniper), Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), Pelargonium graveolens (geranium), Pogestemon patchouli (patchouli), and Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) as well as the constituents geraniol and citronellol were analyzed for antifungal activities against Aspergillus niger and A. flavus. Most of the tested essential oils, except not C. atlantica, J. communis, and P. patchouli, showed significantly inhibited growth, and geraniol and citronellol, exhibited additive effects. From: Shin, S. (2003). Anti-Aspergillus activities of plant essential oils and their combination effects with ketoconazole or amphotericin B. Archives of pharmacal research, 26(5), 389-393.
- Palmarosa and cinnamon oils along with their phenolic compounds of thymol and carvacrol were the most fungitoxic against Cryptococcus neoformans common in late stage AIDS patients. Terpenoids, citral, geraniol, and citronellol also showed strong activity. From: Viollon, C., & Chaumont, J. P. (1994). Antifungal properties of essential oils and their main components upon Cryptococcus neoformans. Mycopathologia, 128(3), 151-153.
- The monoterpene alcohols in Douglas fir inhibited sheep and deer rumen microbial activity and included: α-terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, linalool, citronellol, and fenchyl alcohol. From: Oh, H. K., Sakai, T., Jones, M. B., & Longhurst, W. M. (1967). Effect of various essential oils isolated from Douglas fir needles upon sheep and deer rumen microbial activity. Applied microbiology, 15(4), 777-784.
- Ten minutes of exposure of vapors from essential oils Citrus bergamia, Eucalyptus globulus, and the constituents citronellol and eugenol were very active against the influenza virus. Vapors of Pelargonium graveolens, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and Cymbopogon flexuosus were very active with 30 minutes of exposure. Further, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Citrus bergamia, Cymbopogon flexuosus and Thymus vulgaris liquid essential oils displayed 100% inhibitory activity at a 3.1 µL/mL concentration. From: Vimalanathan, S., & Hudson, J. (2014). Anti-influenza virus activity of essential oils and vapors. American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products, 2(1), 47-53.
INSECTICIDAL / REPELLENT
- Essential oils can be efficient, and safer repellents for humans and the environment. In this mega analysis on insect repelling essential oils, Cymbopogon (lemongrass) spp., Ocimum (basil) spp. and Eucalyptus (eucalyptus) spp. are the most cited. Key constituents cited include α-pinene, limonene, citronellol, citronellal, camphor and thymol. From: Nerio, L. S., Olivero-Verbel, J., & Stashenko, E. (2010). Repellent activity of essential oils: a review. Bioresource technology, 101(1), 372-378.
- Various geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) extractions and their key constituents of linalool and citronellol demonstrated repellent activity against beetles that are food storage pests. From: Abouelatta, A. M., Keratum, A. Y., Ahmed, S. I., & El-Zun, H. M. (2020). Repellent, contact and fumigant activities of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens L.’Hér) essential oils against Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and Rhyzopertha dominica (F.). International Journal of Tropical Insect Science, 40(4), 1021-1030.
- Constituents of geranium oil demonstrated safe repelling action against the mosquito associated with the West Nile virus. From: Tabari, M. A., Youssefi, M. R., Esfandiari, A., & Benelli, G. (2017). Toxicity of β-citronellol, geraniol and linalool from Pelargonium roseum essential oil against the West Nile and filariasis vector Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). Research in veterinary science, 114, 36-40.
- Geraniol and beta-citronellol isolated from P. graveolens was effective against house dust mites. From: Jeon, J. H., Kim, H. W., Kim, M. G., & Lee, H. S. (2008). Mite-control activities of active constituents isolated from Pelargonium graveolens against house dust mites. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology, 18(10), 1666-1671.
- Rose oil and its constituents of 2-phenethyl alcohol and citronellol produced anxiolytic effects. From: Umezu, T., Ito, H., Nagano, K., Yamakoshi, M., Oouchi, H., Sakaniwa, M., & Morita, M. (2002). Anticonflict effects of rose oil and identification of its active constituents. Life Sciences, 72(1), 91-102.
- In a study of 105 cancer patients, a six week treatment of citronellol combined with three Chinese herbs (Ganoderma lucidum, Codonopsis pilosula and Angelicae sinensis) had an immunomodulating function, improving lymphocytes and natural killer cell counts. From: Zhuang, S. R., Chen, S. L., Tsai, J. H., Huang, C. C., Wu, T. C., Liu, W. S., … & Yang, C. H. (2009). Effect of citronellol and the Chinese medical herb complex on cellular immunity of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(6), 785-790.
ANTI-CANCER / ANTI-TUMOR
- Citronellol, citronellyl formate, geraniol and citronellyl acetate from geranium oil exhibited marginal antitumour activities. From: Fang, H. J., Su, X. L., Liu, H. Y., Chen, Y. H., & Ni, J. H. (1988). [Studies on the chemical components and anti-tumour action of the volatile oils from Pelargonium graveoleus]. Yao xue xue bao= Acta pharmaceutica Sinica, 24(5), 366-371.
- Geranium oil and its constituent citronellol might be beneficial in the prevention/treatment of neurodegenerative diseases with neuroinflammation such as Alzheimer’s. From: Elmann, A., Mordechay, S., Rindner, M., & Ravid, U. (2010). Anti-neuroinflammatory effects of geranium oil in microglial cells. Journal of Functional Foods, 2(1), 17-22.
- Essential oil constituents with an analgesic activity are reviewed. Included are p-cymene, carvacrol, linalool, eugenol, menthol, alpha-bisabolol, cinnamaldehyde, citronellal, citronellol, citronellyl acetate, alpha-phelandrene, alpha-terpeneol, vanillin, borneol, myrtenol, pulegone, citral, thymol, limonene, nerol, anethole, nerolidol, carvone, farnesol, and beta-caryphyllene. From: Lima, T., da Nóbrega, F., de Brito, A., & de Sousa, D. (2017). Analgesic-like activity of essential oil constituents: an update. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(12), 2392.
Compiled by : Kathy Sadowski