The woody hit of lemon eucalyptus oil is something you can’t ignore, and turns out, neither can the mosquitos! This fragrant essential oil, derived from the leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree (Corymbia citriodora), can also be a handy tool in your first-aid kit.
The lemon eucalyptus tree originated in Australia, but the bug-repelling properties of the oil, owing to its active ingredient citronella, has made it popular for centuries in countries such as India, China, South Africa, and Indonesia. The bruised leaves are hung outside houses or even burned. Its sweet, fresh, lemony fragrance, pale yellow color, and thinner consistency set it apart from regular eucalyptus.1
Not Just A Pretty Scent But Potent!
Its fragrant odor makes lemon eucalyptus oil a favorite in the cosmetic industry and you’ll find it widely used in perfumes, deodorants, and air fresheners. But it is more popular and potent as a natural insect repellent, effectively warding off mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. It also offers a natural alternative to DEET and other toxic compounds. The synthetic version of the oil, para-menthane-3,8-diol(PMD), has been endorsed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a non-DEET mosquito repellent.2
Like most essential oils, lemon eucalyptus oil too has to be diluted with a base oil such as coconut or palm nut oil. These oils contain unsaturated fatty acids and emulsifiers that slow down the evaporation of the volatile substances in the pure oil. Otherwise, the highly volatile essential oil tends to quickly evaporate, reducing its efficacy.3
Traditional Uses Of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Modern scientific research on lemon eucalyptus oil has so far been limited to its commercial use in insect repellents.4 However, traditional Chinese and Indian systems of medicine have long recommended the use of lemon eucalyptus extracts for conditions ranging from cough, cold, inflammation, bacterial and fungal infections to rheumatism. It is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties.5
- An infusion made from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus tree is traditionally used to reduce fever.
- A paste made from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus tree is also used to treat wounds, cuts, and sores.
- It can be diluted in a base oil such as coconut oil and applied on the skin to treat fungal infections.
- Anecdotal evidence also suggests it can help treat skin diseases such as eczema and dermatitis successfully.
Beyond Skin-Deep Utility
A few drops of the scented oil mixed with 2 to 3 ml of coconut oil, gently massaged on the areas of pain on a regular basis, is known to give relief from rheumatic and arthritic pain.6 It also has powerful analgesic and antipyretic properties that are comparable to the benefits of the drug acetylsalicylate of lysine, also known as aspirin, which is often prescribed for arthritic pain.7 A fresh mixture of a base oil and lemon eucalyptus oil, when gently massaged on aching joints daily, is reported to bring relief from pain.
Not To Be Sniffed At!
While the lemon eucalyptus oil is almost irresistible because of its heady scent, do remember never to use the pure extract directly on your skin. Always mix it in a base oil. Also, never swallow it – the oil works all its wonders through external application alone!
To sum it up, this spicy essential oil can help protect you against insect-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue. It can also keep nagging joint trouble at bay. And of course, a few drops of it in a slow diffuser can spread a warm fragrance throughout your home, lifting your mood and wiping the blues away!
|↑1||Julia Lawless. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element Books. 1995.|
|↑2||Carroll SP, Loye J.,PMD, a registered botanical mosquito repellent with deet-like efficacy, J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2006 Sep;22(3):507-14.|
|↑3||Marta Ferreira Maia, Sarah J Moore.Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malar J. 2011; 10(Suppl 1): S11. Published online 2011 Mar 15.|
|↑4||John C. Hall, Brian J. Hall. Skin Infections: Diagnosis and Treatment. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2009. p.12.|
|↑5||Dionna Ford, Mandy O’Brien. Homemade cleaners. Quick and easy toxic-free recipes. Berkeley: Ulysses Press; 2014. P 41.|
|↑6||Vasey, Christopher. Natural Remedies for Inflammation. Inner Traditions/Bear and Co. 2014.|
|↑7||Gbenou JD, Ahounou JF, Akakpo HB, et al. Phytochemical composition of Cymbopogon citratus and Eucalyptus citriodora essential oils and their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties on Wistar rats. Mol Biol Rep. 2013 Feb;40(2):1127-34.|