Monday, 22 August 2016

Four Uses for Geranium Oil

Making your own skincare products, and other products for use around the home, can be a fun way to be more self-sufficient or start a business, and is often an essential step towards reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals. One essential oil that you should consider for your recipes is the oil of rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), a plant with more than just a pretty face. Geranium essential oil is distilled from the leaves, not flowers, and with many similar properties to rose oil, can be a cheaper alternative.

One property of geranium essential oil may be the ability to help prevent allergic reactions. A preclinical study showed that geranium oil inhibited the degranulation of mast cells. Mast cells are a type of immune cell involved in the inflammatory allergic response, and degranulation is one of the steps in the allergic response. Citronellol, the main phytochemical in geranium oil, was also able to prevent mast cells from producing tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) during exposure to antibodies. TNF-a is an inflammatory substance with often destructive effects. Another primary component of geranium essential oil is geraniol. While it cannot reduce TNF-a production according to one study, it was able to increase production of an anti-inflammatory substance known as interleukin-10.

Pretty P. graveolens. Source: Allgau
Geranium essential oil may also be able to reduce the pain seen in post-herpetic neuralgia. A clinical trial involving 30 patients showed that geranium oil was able to significantly reduce both spontaneous and evoked pain, an effect which was dependent on the dose. A dose-dependent effect means that the treatment is more likely to be responsible for the effect. While topical use of capsaicin (found in chillis) can take two weeks to relieve pain, geranium essential oil was able to do so in minutes. One of the patients in the study was almost bed-ridden because of the severity of her pain, but with continued use of geranium oil she was able to resume a normal life! A limitation of this study was that patients were only observed for an hour, as pain relief was still increasing after the 60-minute point. Some also found the oil irritating at higher concentrations, so be careful if you are sensitive.

Geranium oil may even be a useful ingredient in natural tick repellents, well, if one of the ticks in your area is Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick). Certain components of P. graveolens essential oil were able to repel this species of tick up to a success rate of 90%! The most effective was 10-epi-gamma-Eudesmol, which was comparable to DEET when tested. However, it may be best to use geranium as a part of your tick repellent recipe, instead of replacing the other ingredients that already work for you.

Finally, geranium essential oil could even be used to control mites in the home, if the species Dermatophagoides farinae and D. pteronyssinus are common where you live. Interesting Latin fact: "Dermatophagoides" means something along the lines of "skin eater", but this would only be dead skin that's already fallen off you. The most effective components of geranium essential oil were geraniol and beta-citronellol; they were even more effective than DEET!
Overall, many essential oils such as geranium have many uses, it all depends on what is best for you and your home on an individual basis.

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