Though geranium essential oil is currently an important constituent of holistic healing, the ancient Egyptians were the first to discover its amazing benefits. In ancient Egypt geranium essential oil was used for enhancing the beauty of the skin. The modern holistic healers use geranium essential oil for promoting physical, mental and emotional health. It is believed to work as an antidepressant and can be used for reducing anxiety. Geranium essential oil is known for its antiseptic property and is considered effective in healing wounds. It helps in improving the skin health and is used as a remedy for psoriasis, eczema and acne. (1)
Geranium is a native of Southern Africa. Dutch sailors introduced it to Europe in the 1600s. Fortunately for the Europeans, the geranium plants easily adapted to the European climate and the fabulous geranium flowers blossomed across Europe, adorning the gardens, pathways and window boxes. However, geranium was not used solely for decorative purpose. Because of its delightful fragrance, the essential oil extracted from the plant was used in the perfumery industry. Geranium essential oil smells almost like rose oil. Hence, since the 19th century, the aromatic essential oil of geranium is being used as a cheaper substitute of the expensive rose oil. Though there are over 700 varieties of geranium, the aromatic essential oil of geranium is sourced from a few varieties such as Pelargonium roseum, Pelargonium radula, Pelargonium graveolens and Pelargonium odorantissimum. (2)
What Is Geranium Essential Oil?
Geranium essential oil is produced from the rose-scented geraniums. These geranium varieties belong to the Geraniaceae family of the Pelargonium species. The essential oil is produced through steam distillation of the fresh aerial parts of the plant. It is used as a perfume and is also known to blend well with other aromatic essential oils. It is especially used in rose-scented soaps and perfumes. Because of its fresh, earthy and green herbal attributes, geranium essential oil is best suited as masculine fragrance. It is nontoxic and nonirritant and is known for its soothing and energy-boosting effects. Researchers have identified over 240 compounds in geranium oil. However, the exact chemical composition of the oil is determined by its origin and is affected by various extrinsic and intrinsic factors. The essential oil primarily comprises of 3 monoterpene alcohols – linalool, citronellol and geraniol. (3) The French started the commercial production of geranium oil in the early 19th century in Grasse in Southern France. The plant was then transported to the French colonies including Algeria and the Nilgiri Hills in India for commercial cultivation. In addition to these regions, geranium oil is produced in Egypt, Israel, China, Australia, Cuba and the United States. (4) However, the finest geranium oil is believed to be produced in Reunion, the French island in southwestern Indian Ocean. (5) Commercial cultivation of geranium commended in Reunion with plants brought from Grasse. The steep sloping land of Reunion, though unsuitable for growing other crops, was ideal for cultivation of geranium. Here, geranium, even in the modern times, is cultivated in small farms. Geranium oil produced in Reunion is also known as Bourbon geranium oil. (6)
Is Geranium And Rose Geranium The Same Thing?
The bourbon variety of geranium oil is sometimes referred to as the rose geranium. The olive green heavy oil is richer than the geranium oil produced from the other varieties. It is known for its slightly sweet, rosy and minty fragrance. The aroma of rose geranium oil helps in uplifting the mood. Among the different varieties of geranium, the essential oil of rose geranium or Pelargonium roseum has the highest concentration of geranoil, which gives it its rosy fragrance. Rose geranium oil is a versatile essential oil. It can easily blend with other essential oil and is known for its long staying power. It is also recognized for its healing properties and is a popular component in aromatherapy. Owing to its superior fragrance and aromatherapy and beauty benefits, rose geranium oil is the most expensive geranium oil. Geranium oil is also made from the other inferior varieties such as Pelargonium graveolens, Pelargonium odorantissimum, Pelargonium capitatum and Pelargonium asperum. (7)
What Is Geranium Essential Oil Good For?
Geranium oil is a popular ingredient in the perfumery, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industry. The composition of the oil determines its application for specific purposes. The quality of the aroma of the oil is determined by its citronellol and geraniol concentrations. The Bourbon variety, which is considered to be the best quality geranium oil, contains citronellol and geraniol in equal proportions. In case of the other varieties, oils with citronellol and geraniol ratios from 0.5 to 2 are considered to possess good odor quality. Traditionally, geranium essential oil is recommended for inflammations, hemorrhoids, dysentery, excessive menstrual bleeding and cancer. In French folk remedies, it is used as a remedy for gallbladder problems, diarrhea, diabetes, liver problems, gastric ulcers, urinary stones and sterility. Furthermore, massaging with geranium essential oil is believed to reduce symptoms of inflammation. The essential oil is also known for their antimicrobial activities. (8)
What Is Geranium Essential Oil Used For?
Geranium oil is known to help when used for the following purposes:
1. Helps Reduce Depression
Geranium oil is known as an antidepressant. It helps in lifting the mood, thereby helping in removing the depressing and negative thoughts from the mind. (9) Owing to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, geranium oil is considered effective in easing the symptoms of depression associated with chronic pain and inflammation. Furthermore, it works as a sedative, which helps in improving sleep and calms the mind. Before bedtime, rub few drops of geranium essential oil on the hands and breathe deeply to inhale the aroma of the oil. Adding geranium oil to the room diffuser is also known to promote sleep. (10)
2. Helps Beat Anxiety
Inhalation of the aroma of geranium essential oil helps in relieving anxiety. A study reported in the Journal of Caring Sciences has shown that the aroma of geranium oils helps in reducing anxiety in nulliparous women during the first stage of labor. Moreover, it helped in lowering their diastolic blood pressure. Maternal anxiety during childbirth adversely affects the progression of labor. Inhalation of the aromatic essential oils is a safe and effective non-invasive therapy for anxiety in nulliparous women. (11) According to another study published in the journal Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice, the aroma of geranium essential oil helps in reducing anxiety in acute myocardial infarction patients. (12)
3. Sore Throat Relief
Massaging geranium essential oil on the throat helps in soothing the sore throat. Apart from reducing the scratchiness and pain, it is believed to help in stopping the infection from spreading. Prepare a throat rub by blending 5 drops of geranium oil with ½-ounce of jojoba oil. Apply the mixture on the throat area. Reapply as needed. You can also mix geranium oil with other essential oils. To an ounce of jojoba oil add 3 drops of geranium oil, 2 drops each of lavender oil and eucalyptus oil and 1 drop of thyme oil. Mix the oils well and gently massage your throat and neck with the oil mixture. A soothing throat compress with essential oils is also known to help. To 1 quart hot water add one drop of geranium oil, one drop of pine oil and 2 drops of niaouli oil. Dip a clean cloth in the water, wring out the excess water and place it on the throat and neck. Repeat as needed. (13) Steam inhalation is known to provide relief from sore throat and tonsillitis. Add 2 to 5 drops of geranium oil to the boiling water for steam inhalation. Gargling with geranium oil can also help. Mix 2 drops of geranium essential oil to a glass of warm water. Gargle and spit out the water. (14)
4. Reduces Shingles Pain
Geranium essential oil helps in reducing shingles pain. Though the exact effect of geranium essential oil varies from person to person, nevertheless, it is believed to be more effective than capsaicin cream in reducing shingles pain. Dilute the oil before using it topically as the undiluted oil when applied to the sensitive skin will worsen the discomfort. Geranium oil is believed to help when the skin becomes sensitive to touch following the shingles breakout. It is also considered effective in alleviating postherpetic neuralgia, the nerve pain that subsists even after the shingles rashes had healed. (15)
5. Fights Fungal Infections
Citronellol is the most powerful antifungal constituent of geranium oil. The antifungal activity of geranium oil is also attributed to its other constituents including geraniol, isomenthone, geranyl formate and citronellyl formate. (16) The antifungal effect of geranium oil makes it a suitable agent for fighting vaginal candidiasis. An in-vitro study suggests that application of geranium oil or its bioactive component geraniol combined with vaginal washing helps in inhibiting growth of the Candida cells in the vagina and alleviates vaginal inflammation. (17) Athlete’s foot, a fungal infection that affects the feet, can be reduced with the help of geranium essential oil. The risk of developing athlete’s foot can be averted by rubbing undiluted geranium oil on the feet before going to places where you might contract the fungal infection. In case of an existing infection, blend one drop of geranium oil, one drop of tea tree oil and 2 drops of wheatgerm oil and mix the oil blend with two teaspoons of soy oil. Apply the oil mixture to the toes and nails daily. (18)
6. Fights Bacterial Infections
The antibacterial property of geranium oil has been validated by a number of studies. In a laboratory study, geranium oil had exhibited strong antibacterial effect against 70 clinical strains of Staphylococcus aureus including the multidrug resistant strains. (19) In another study, researchers found that geranium oil helped in inhibiting growth of gram-negative bacteria strains that are associated with wound infections. Wounds due to mechanical injuries and burns in diabetes patients are susceptible to infection. Application of geranium oil can help in speeding up healing of the hard-to-heal wounds and can reduce risk of recurrent infections by drug resistant bacterial strains. (20)
7. Reduces Hemorrhoid Pain
Geranium oil is an important component of essential oil blends used for reducing hemorrhoid pain, irritation, itching and swelling. Add 4 drops of geranium essential oil to a sitz bath and sit in the bath for 5 minutes. Mix 15 drops of geranium oil, 10 drops of cypress oil and 5 drops of lavender oil. To a teaspoon of carrier oil, add 10 to 15 drops of the essential oil blend. Apply a small amount of the oil mixture to the affected area twice a day, in the morning and night. (21)
8. Good For The Skin
Geranium oil is an excellent essential oil for skin care. Because of its astringent and cicatrizing activities, it is believed to slow down skin aging. It helps in toning the facial muscles, thereby reducing wrinkling and sagging of the skin. It is also known to make the skin soft. By stimulating blood circulation and supporting even distribution of the pigment producing melanin cells, it is known to help in inhibiting appearance of dark spots and reduces scars. Regardless of your skin type, whether, dry, oily or combination skin, you can incorporate geranium oil into your skin care regimen. It helps in balancing and nourishing the skin. It can be used also on the sensitive, irritated and problematic skin. It soothes the troubled skin and can be used on acne, eczema, herpes, burns, bruises and dermatitis. (22) Because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory activities, geranium oil is known to control acne breakouts. Apply the diluted oil to the affected area. (23) To ½ cup of full-fat plain yogurt add a teaspoon of honey and one drop each of geranium oil and cedarwood oil. Thoroughly mix the ingredients and apply the mixture to your skin in a gentle motion. Rinse off after 10 minutes with warm water. (24) Geranium oil is an important component of facial oil blends. To prepare a facial oil blend for the oily skin, mix 5 drops each of geranium oil and ylang ylang oil and 2 drops of clary sage oil with one ounce of light vegetable oil such as grapeseed or safflower oil. In case of dry skin, combine 5 drops each of geranium oil and lavender oil and 2 drops of sandalwood or chamomile oil with one ounce of almond, apricot or avocado oil.
9. Good For Hair
Geranium oil is believed to help in arresting hair loss caused by dandruff or stress. Massage a small amount of the hair oil for several minutes onto the hair roots. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then wash hair with warm water and shampoo. To keep hair healthy and silky, add few drops of geranium oil to you regular shampoo or conditioner. (25) To eliminate head lice, prepare an oil blend by combining 10 drops each of rose geranium, lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus oil. Mix the oil blend with two ounces of sweet almond oil. Massage the oil mixture onto the scalp and hair. Leave it on at least for an hour and then wash your hair. Repeat daily for a few days. (26)
10. Insect Repellant
To repel mosquitoes and other insects from your home, you can use geranium oil. Add 5 drops of geranium oil and 3 drops of clove oil to the diffuser to drive out insects. (27) Bugs can also be repelled by adding 5 drops of rose geranium oil and one drop each of lemongrass oil and peppermint oil to four ounces of water. Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and spray it on your clothes and surrounding. (28)
Can I Use Geranium Oil Directly On Skin?
Essential oils should be applied to the skin only after they are properly diluted. However, in some cases, the undiluted oil can be used directly on the skin. In case of cold sores, rose geranium essential oil can be used neat. (29)
Side Effects Of Geranium Oil
Geranium oil is usually considered safe. However, caution needs to be taken when using it on the skin, especially for skin susceptible to dermatitis. Though the fragrance of geranium oil is safe for pregnant and lactating women, but it should be used with caution on the skin. (30)