By Hwaa Irfan
The Geranium essential oil that is commonly used within the practice of aromatherapy is Pelargonium graveolens although there are over 200 species of this group. It bears no similarity with the hardy geraniums of Europe.
Pelargonium graveolens is native to South tropical Africa, (Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe), and is a member of the Geraniaceae family of the plant kingdom. Its scented petals are used on a large scale in the perfume industry being one of the top 20 globally in perfumery, though the scent of different varieties range from citrus, rose, mint, and even nutmeg.
This delicate perennial plant is a flower producing shrub that from its woody beginning produces tender shoots. It is covered in fine hairs from the stem to the pink flowers in some varieties. The flowers have four petals and appear in clusters that extend from a long stalk making it vulnerable to strong winds. The pink petals are streaked with purple. The triangular leaves have variegated lobes with distinct veins emit a fragrance on being robbed. The scent of the rose geranium as it is sometimes called is like that Damask rose.
The essential oil of Pelargonium graveolens is extracted through steam distillation of the flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant. When looking to buy, look out for a yellowish-green color, which becomes stronger in the following order Reunion, Bourbon, Egyptian, i.e. country of production.
There are three distinctive types of Geranium essential oil: Bourbon, Reunion, and Egyptian. The best organic geranium oil is distilled in Egypt (Bourbon variety), with the conventional type produced in China, Madagascar (Bourbon variety), and Russia. Of course with such a popular oil to the perfume industry, adulteration is bound to occur. In the Chinese blend one can find the oil has been adulterated with Indian geranium oil which contains diphenyl oxide. In the Chinese and Bourbon blends one can find adulteration using monoterpene alcohols and esters, especially formats, copper, chlorophyll (for colour), and sometimes dibutyl sulphides. Some oils are adulterated with citronella oil, and/or palmarosa.
Some of the bioactive constituents of Geranium essential oil are:
- 6,9-guaidiene (very high in Reunion variety, but low in Bourbon)
- 10-epi-γ-eudesmol (not present in the Reunion oil, but high content in Egyptian variety)
- Citronellyl formate (not present in Egyptian variety)
- Citronellyl propionate
- Geranyl formate (not present in Egyptian variety)
- Geranyl tiglate
- Geranyl propionate
- Isomenthone (high content in Bourbon and Egyptian variety)
- Linalool (high content in Reunion variety)
- Menthone (in some varieties, not all)
- Sabinene (terpene)
Geraniol and Citronellol in the main are responsible for the rose scent that is loved by many.
Studies at the Shanghai Institute of Technology found the antioxidant qualities of Pelargonium graveolens was present in the buds, the stems and the leaves, and that leaves collected in the afternoon had the strongest antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are naturally occurring molecules capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation in the body, which can take the form of vitamins or minerals. Antioxidants help to neutralized free radicals than can damage various cellular structures.
Geranium essential oil has a balancing aroma, which is important in vapour therapy for increasing the imagination, intuition, capacity for intimate communication, reduces sense of vulnerability to disturbing energies, helps support one’s ability to give and receive, and one’s sense of security and stability.
Some of the therapeutic properties are as follows:
- Tonic (endocrine, and lymphatic systems)
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents!
Some of the beneficial effects are:
Adaptogen – is the ability to sedate or stimulate. Working with the mind, geranium essential oil balances the emotions arising from which is the ability to give and receive (and in receiving improved intimate relations), and a greater sense of security.
Astringent – Having the ability to cause contraction, geranium oil acts on the gums, the muscles, intestines, skin and blood vessels.
Deoderant – A combination of properties make geranium oil an effective deodorant along with its sweet aroma (antibacterial, and regulation of sebum).
Cytophylactic – Recycles dead cells and generates new cells thus helping new cells to grow.
Haemostatic – stops hemorrhaging as an astringent, and by coagulating and clotting the blood.
As a cicatrisant, geranium essential oil is helpful for healing damaged skin, and tissues, as it not only helps to heal scars by balancing the presence of sebum and keeping the skin supple whilst stimulating cell regeneration.
Geranium essential oil balances the endocrine, and lymphatic systems by stimulating the adrenal cortex.
None yet indicated although some advise the oil should be avoided during early pregnancy given its spasmolytic property, and therefore caution for those who are on medication for epilepsy. Over sensitivities tend to be more related to the additional ingredients that have adulerated the oil.
The oil can only be used for external use, and when used it should be diluted by means of Carrier Oils like Sweet Almond Oil. Drops of no more than 5 should be used for:
Endocrine System – Hormonal imbalance
Insecticide – Lice, mosquitoes
General – Low spirits
Gender – Fluid retention, edema, menorrhagia, PMS,
Mind – Anxiety, depression, emotional vulnerability/mood swings, neuralgia, relaxes and balances emotions, PMS
Reproductive – Delayed menses, menorrhagia ,PMS,
Skin – Acne, bruises, burns, capillaries (broken) cuts, dermatitis, eczema, tired/ageing/oily skin, haemorrhoids, impetigo, psoriasis, ringworm,
Urinogenital – Water retention
- Vapor therapy – Increases imagination, intuition, and capacity for intimate communication, supports ability to receive and to give, nurtures sense of security and stability, depression, mood swings, menopause
- Massage oil – Balanc skin’s oil production, keeps skin supple, heal wounds,
- Topical – One drop in a small handful of shampoo balances the sebum/oil in one’s scalp whether excessively dry/oily.
- Shampoo – two drops in a handful of shampoo before washing to remove head lice, balance the oils in the scalp, and even out dry patches
- Bath – 5 drops added before filling the bath, helps to calm the mind, bruises, ease depression, mood swings, PMS, stress, fluid retention, eczema, cellulite, and regenerates the skin.
Burfield T. “The Adulteration of Essential Oils and the Consequences to Aromatherapy & Natural Perfumery Practice.” London. 2005
Salvesen, C. “Common Adulterations Of Essential Oils.” http://www.abundantlifeessentials.com/adulteration.htm
Sun, W. “Study on Antioxidant Activity Of Essential Oils And Its Monomer From Pelargonium Graveolens.” Shanghai Institute of Technology, Shanghai 200235.
Tembe, R.P. and M.A. Deodhar, 2010. “Chemical and Molecular Fingerprinting of Different Cultivars of Pelargonium graveolens (L� Herit.) viz., Reunion, Bourbon and Egyptian. Biotechnology, 9: 485-491.
DOI: 10.3923/biotech.2010.485.491 http://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=biotech.2010.485.491