Everything Great About Geraniol

There are hundreds of thousands of phytonutrients. Geraniol is one of these. It has several benefits when consumed in whole food form.

You’ve probably heard of some phytonutrients like beta-carotene, but have you ever heard of geraniol? Pronounced jur-rain-ee-ole.

Geraniol is a monoterpenoid or monoterpene alcohol that is used in many oils such as citronella oil, rose oil, and palmarosa oil. Geraniol occurs naturally in the essential oils of geranium and lemon as well as various fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Terpenes are organic, aromatic compounds emitted from fragrant vegetable oils like pine and citrus oils and wooden materials.[1] The geraniol terpene has shown anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal,[2] antioxidant, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties.[3]

First things first, we need to talk about just how to receive the benefits of geraniol. Nutrients—including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—can often be isolated or synthetic. In fact, the production of synthetic geraniol surpasses 1,000 metric tons a year.[4] These synthetics 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. The best source of nutrients is whole plant foods.

Geraniol is used in many cosmetic, commercial, and industrial products. It has been revealed that geraniol is present in 76 percent of deodorants in the European market, 41 percent of household products, and 33 percent of cosmetic formulas. Geraniol mostly functions as a fragrance or flavoring ingredient. In addition, geraniol is used as a mosquito repellent.

But, we aren’t the only ones who use it. Bees actually recognize the scent of geraniol to identify nectar-bearing flowers and the entrance of their hives. Pretty neat, huh? Geraniol has been used to spray plots of alfalfa to attract honeybees.[5] 

Due to its aroma, geraniol is used in many fragrances and as a fruit flavoring. However, you can only safely receive its purported benefits by consuming the whole, plant foods that contain it.

Geraniol can be found in bergamot, carrots, coriander, lavender, lemons, limes, nutmeg, oranges, roses, blueberries, and blackberries.

Like most phytonutrients, geraniol is a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that can combat free radicals, which can damage DNA, cell membranes, and other cellular components by neutralizing the free radicals.[6] 

Geraniol also has exhibited antibacterial and antifungal activity in a study against certain bacteria like Salmonella typhimurium and resistant strains of it.[7] It has also been found to inhibit growth of Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains.[8] One study showed that, along with other aromatic compounds in essential oils, geraniol inhibited sixteen out of eighteen different bacteria. Geraniol oil was the most effective against all twelve fungi types tested.[9] 

Regarding cancer, geraniol can possibly fight cancerous tumors. Evidence suggests it could have useful preventative and therapeutic effects on breast, lung, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and hepatic cancer. Geraniol sensitizes tumor cells to chemotherapy agents, helps keep tumor cells from adapting to resist anticancer drugs, and controls various signaling molecules and pathways that are tumor hallmarks. These “tumor hallmarks” include sustaining proliferative (rapid production of new parts or cells) signaling, evading growth suppressors, enabling replicative immortality, tumor-promoting inflammation, inducing angiogenesis, genome instability and mutation, resisting cell death, and deregulating cellular energetics.[10]

In cases of breast cancer, geraniol has been shown to suppress growth of certain breast cancer cells by inducing cell cycle arrest. In mice who had lung cancer, geraniol reduced tumor weight and volume. Geraniol also sensitized and displayed antiproliferative activity against certain colorectal adenocarcinoma cells and induced death of colon carcinoma cells in mice. It may also be able to inhibit tumor cell growth in prostate cancer cells and increase the response of cells to chemotherapy agents. With pancreatic cancer cells, it inhibited pancreatic carcinoma and adenocarcinoma cells.

In instances of skin cancer in mice, geraniol inhibited skin edema, epidermal hyperplasia, and skin inflammation while also acting as an antioxidant. In liver cancer, geraniol has an antiproliferative effect in certain hepatocarcinoma cells and can suppress tumor growth of certain hepatoma cells in mice. Geraniol has also exhibited chemopreventive activity against induced oral carcinogenesis. It also acted against kidney cancer by reducing renal oxidative stress and tumor incidence in rats. And, geraniol has demonstrated chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, antiproliferative, and apoptosis-inducing effects against even more cancers.

Geraniol also has neuroprotective effects. A study in Journal of Insect Physiology reveals that geraniol reduced acrylamide-induced mortality. Acrylamide leads to neuronal damage in both animals and humans. It also rescued the locomotor phenotype and alleviated high levels of oxidative stress markers in head/body regions. It restored dopamine levels in the regions as well.[11] 

In rats, geraniol was shown to suppress the central nervous system, increasing sleep duration.[12] In mice with Parkinson’s disease, geraniol improved motor behavior and neurotrophic factors. It protected against certain induced behavioral deficits, oxidative stress, and more. Geraniol also suppressed a toxic metabolite induction of lipid peroxidation and protected dopaminergic neurons in the brain. Overall, it was concluded that geraniol has neuroprotective effects due to improvements in motor coordination, inhibition of oxidative stress, and an increase in dopaminergic immunoreactive neurons.[13] 

Also in mice, geraniol exerted “antidepressant-like effects.” Treatments of geraniol relieved depression-related behaviors in the mice.[14] In addition, geraniol has been shown to inhibit inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and apoptosis (cell death) in traumatic injury of the spinal cord. It particularly had a protective effect on locomotor recovery.[15] 

However, alone, the compound geraniol could cause skin irritation, an allergic skin reaction, and eye damage. This may vary between notifications depending on impurities, additives, and other factors. This is why it is important to only consume geraniol in its whole plant food form.[16] 

The Last Bite

Geraniol is used in many cosmetic, commercial, and industrial products mostly as a fragrance or flavoring ingredient. Bees also use geraniol to identify flowers and their hives. However, we should only use natural geraniol. It is contained in bergamot, carrots, coriander, lavender, lemons, limes, nutmeg, oranges, roses, blueberries, blackberries, and other fragrant plants along with many other phytochemicals. We are able to receive the benefits of the foods containing phytonutrients because of how they all interact together. Geraniol has antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties.


[1] “Terpene,” Terpene - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics, accessed July 29, 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/terpene.

[2] “Geraniol,” weedmaps, accessed July 29, 2020, https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/geraniol/.

[3] National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Geraniol,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed July 30, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Geraniol.

[4] “Geraniol,” The Derm Review, September 20, 2018, https://thedermreview.com/geraniol/.

[5] Gordon D Waller, “Attracting Honeybees to Alfalfa with Citral, Geraniol and Anise,” Taylor & Francis Online (Journal of Apicultural Research, March 24, 2015), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00218839.1970.11100238?src=recsys.

[6] “Understanding Antioxidants,” Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard University), accessed July 29, 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants.

[7] J.M. Kim et al., “Antibacterial Activity of Carvacrol, Citral, and Geraniol against Salmonella Typhimurium in Culture Medium and on Fish Cubes,” Wiley Online Library (Journal of Food Science, August 26, 2006), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1995.tb04592.x.

[8] Martin Bard et al., “Geraniol Interferes with Membrane Functions in Strains of Candida and Saccharomyces,” Springer Link (Lipids, June 1988), https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02535593.

[9] S Pattnaik et al., “Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity of Aromatic Constituents of Essential Oils,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Microbios, 1997), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9218354/.

[10] Minsoo Cho et al., “The Antitumor Effects of Geraniol: Modulation of Cancer Hallmark Pathways (Review),” International journal of oncology (D.A. Spandidos, May 2016), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809657/.

[11] Sathya N Prasad and Muralidhara, “Neuroprotective Effect of Geraniol and Curcumin in an Acrylamide Model of Neurotoxicity in Drosophila Melanogaster: Relevance to Neuropathy,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Journal of Insect Physiology, November 11, 2013), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24231732/.

[12] Katty Anne A.L. Medeiros et al., “Depressant Effect of Geraniol on the Central Nervous System of Rats: Behavior and ECoG Power Spectra,” Biomedical Journal (Elsevier, November 23, 2018), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2319417017302755.

[13] Karmakolly R. Rekha et al., “Geraniol Ameliorates the Motor Behavior and Neurotrophic Factors Inadequacy in MPTP-Induced Mice Model of Parkinson's Disease,” Journal of Molecular Neuroscience (Springer US, January 1, 1970), https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12031-013-0074-9.

[14] Xue-Yang Deng et al., “Geraniol Produces Antidepressant-like Effects in a Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress Mice Model,” Physiology & Behavior (Elsevier, October 8, 2015), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938415301384.

[15] Jiansheng Wang et al., “Protective Effect of Geraniol Inhibits Inflammatory Response, Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis in Traumatic Injury of the Spinal Cord through Modulation of NF-ΚB and p38 MAPK,” Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine (Spandidos Publications, October 27, 2016), https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2016.3850.

[16] National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Geraniol Hazards Identification,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed July 31, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Geraniol.