Cool Health Benefits of Citronellol

Learn more about this phytochemical, how you can get it, and what it can do for you.

Each week we will shine the spotlight on a couple of phytonutrients, covering all we can about them. Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Read our article all about phytonutrients.

You’ve probably heard about phytonutrients like beta-carotene, but have you ever heard of citronellol? Read on to find out everything you should know about it.

First things first, we need to talk about how to get the benefits of citronellol. Nutrients— including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—can often be isolated or synthetic. These don’t even come close to natural nutrients in their whole food state; they are not the same. We believe in the synergistic effect of all phytonutrients. Read our helpful resource about how they are different and why natural nutrients, as opposed to isolated or synthetic, are safer and much more beneficial.

Citronellol is a monoterpenoid that acts as a plant metabolite[1] found in citronella, eucalyptus, citrus fruits, basil, lavender, black pepper, fennel, lemon, chamomile, sandalwood, geranium, rose,[2] and many essential oils including citronella, neroli, chamomile, tagetes, lemongrass, basil, and lavender. It comes from the plants Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon winterianus, and Lippia alba as well. It is also found in certain spices.

Citronellol is used for fragrance in many products like mosquito repellent, perfumes, cosmetics, and personal care products (shampoos, lotions, creams, etc.) However, it has been found that citronellol can cause irritation when exposed to air[3] and could induce allergenicity even though it has a low skin absorption rate.[4] Although, keep in mind, these products are most likely using an isolated, unstable, or synthetic version.

Sources

Essential oils and aromatic plants were used for many treatments in Mesopotamia, China, India, Persia, ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Essential oils are stored in a plant's secretory structures (glands, hairs, ducts, and cavities). They are usually released using heat and pressure from different parts of a plant (leaves, fruit, roots, etc.)

Essential oils can be extracted through hydrodistillation, steam, water distillation, solvent extraction, aqueous infusion, cold or hot pressing, and other processes. An oil’s chemical composition and quality will vary depending on the extraction method used. An oil could contain more than 100 different components, including terpenoids. Citronellol in particular contributes antimicrobial, antiseptic, tonifying, balancing, spasmolytic, anaesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties.[5]

Yeast and other microbial resources of the Debaryomyces species and Williopsis saturnus contains terpenols, including citronellol.[6] 

Coriander also contains citronellol. Coriander is an herb that possesses many natural antioxidants, medicinal properties, and pharmacological effects such as antifertility, antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic, antioxidant, antiproliferative, hypotensive, and digestive stimulation. It also helps remove toxins.[7] Cardamon or elaichi is another herb that contains citronellol, along with other compounds. Cardamon has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation (clotting) and reduce blood pressure.[8] Both of these can be found in our Fiber & Spice product!

In Brazil, many hypertensive patients with associated cardiovascular diseases regularly drink tea of medicinal plants containing citronellol.[9]

Benefits

One study tested citronellol’s effects on rats. It displayed cardiovascular effects by inducing hypotension, lowering blood pressure by acting on vascular smooth muscle, and ultimately causing vasodilation. Essential oils in general have been observed to improve coronary flow, hypotensive, and bradycardic effects. Citronellol may also have antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsant effects.[10] 

As mentioned, citronellol is used to add fragrance to many different products. Many studies talk about the benefits of odors. Ever heard of aromatherapy? Certain scents have a variety of effects. For instance, the smell of lavender is believed to be relaxing and improve sleep quality,  and the smell of jasmine to be stimulating.[11] Citronellol has a clean floral, citrusy, rose-like aroma.[12] [13] 

In aromatherapy, floral rose scents are used to energize or relax, depending on the kind. Heliotrope claims, “inhaling rose essential oil helps create a protective barrier in your body, inhibiting water loss in your skin and lowering the concentration of stress hormones in your body.” Heliotrope also says that rose aromatherapy has been shown to help treat anxiety and depression and relieve symptoms of PMS.[14] Different scents come with different effects or benefits.

Citronellol also has antifungal effects. One study showed that citronellol displayed antifungal and antimicrobial activity against a group of dematiaceous food-relevant fungi, Cladosporium spp. Food can become contaminated with such fungi, causing spoilage, allergic reactions, poisoning, and infections. Citronellol inhibited important stages of fungal development like spore germination and production as well as mycelial formation.[15] Citronellol might also be able to inhibit the growth of other fungi strains such as Aspergillus, Penicillin, and Fusarium species.[16] 

In vitro, citronellol has also demonstrated antibiotic properties. In vivo, it has exhibited analgesic and anticonvulsant properties.[17] In addition, citronellol has anti-hyperalgesic and anti-edematogenic effects in mice by reducing mechanical hyperalgesia and paw edema.[18] 

The Last Bite

Citronellol is a terpenoid compound that naturally occurs in many different plants including eucalyptus, citrus fruits, basil, lavender, black pepper, fennel, lemon, chamomile, sandalwood, geranium, rose, citronella, neroli, tagetes, lemongrass, lavender, cardamon, and more. It is in many essential oils and used in aromatherapy due to its clean floral, citrusy, rose-like scent as well. Like many other phytonutrients, citronellol has antifungal, anti-hyperalgesic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anticonvulsant, and antibiotic effects. Try putting some of the flowers that contain it in a vase in your home, or cook with the spices and other plant foods rich in citronellol. Get it in our Fiber & Spice supplement too!


[1] “Citronellol,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed August 12, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/3_7-dimethyloct-6-en-1-ol.

[2] Jesse Waddell, “Terpene Profile: Citronellol Terpene Profile: Citronellol,” MONQ, January 16, 2019, https://monq.com/eo/terpenes/citronellol/.

[3] “Citronellol,” The Derm Review (The Dermatology Review, December 18, 2019), https://thedermreview.com/citronellol/.

[4] Sarah Gilpin, Xiaoying Hui, and Howard Maibach, “In Vitro Human Skin Penetration of Geraniol and Citronellol : Dermatitis,” Dermatitis (American Contact Dermatitis Society, 2010), https://journals.lww.com/dermatitis/Abstract/2010/01000/In_Vitro_Human_Skin_Penetration_of_Geraniol_and.4.aspx.

[5] Adbelouhaeb Djilani and Amadou Dicko, “The Therapeutic Benefits of Essential Oils,” in Nutrition, Well-Being and Health, ed. Jaouad Bouayed and Torsten Bohn (InTech), pp. 155-163, accessed August 12, 2020, https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dbqZDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA155&dq=citronellol+benefits&ots=mPpVMI9aoG&sig=qmCyL_yhMuBXZGmX2skMmGkx4HI#v=onepage&q=citronellol%20benefits&f=false.

[6] Leonardo Petruzzi et al., “Microbial Resources and Enological Significance: Opportunities and Benefits,” Frontiers in Microbiology (Front. Microbiol, June 8, 2017), https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00995/full.

[7] Kansal Leena, Arti Sharma, and Shweta Lodi, “PDF” (Rajasthan, India, April 2012).

[8] Abishek Iyer et al., “PDF” (Brisbane, Australia, December 2009).

[9] Joana F. A. Bastos et al., “Hypotensive and Vasorelaxant Effects of Citronellol, a Monoterpene Alcohol, in Rats,” Wiley Online Library (Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, March 12, 2010), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1742-7843.2009.00492.x.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Shizuo Torii, “Odour Mechanisms: The Psychological Benefits of Odours,” ScienceDirect (International Journal of Aromatherapy, September 23, 2003), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0962456297800082.

[12] “Citronellol,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed August 12, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/3_7-dimethyloct-6-en-1-ol#section=Experimental-Properties.

[13] “Citronellol,” TGSC Information System (The Good Scents Company), accessed August 13, 2020, http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1007032.html.

[14] “The Magical Benefits of Rose Aromatherapy,” Heliotrope (Heliotrope San Francisco, September 26, 2018), https://www.heliotropesf.com/blogs/news/the-magical-benefits-of-rose-aromatherapy.

[15] Aldeir Sabino dos Santos et al., “PDF,” 2017.

[16] Gehan I. Kh. Marei and Samir A. M. Abdelgaliel, “PDF” (Alexandria, Egypt, August 13, 2017).

[17] Priscila L. Santos et al., “Citronellol, a Monoterpene Alcohol with Promising Pharmacological Activities - A Systematic Review,” Food and Chemical Toxicology (Pergamon, November 16, 2018), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691518308329.

[18] Renan G. Brito et al., “Citronellol, a Natural Acyclic Monoterpene, Attenuates Mechanical Hyperalgesia Response in Mice: Evidence of the Spinal Cord Lamina I Inhibition,” Chemico-Biological Interactions (Elsevier, July 2, 2015), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0009279715300132?via=ihub.