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Palmarosa Essential Oil

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) is a tropical grass that is related to lemongrass and comes in two main varieties, motia or palmarosa and sofia or rusa. Palmarosa grass originated in Northern and Central India, but is now cultivated in sub Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Palmarosa essential oil is also known as Indian or Turkish geranium oil. Palmarosa forms part of the ancient Indian and South-east Asian repertoire of traditional medicines.1

The essential oil of palmarosa is steam distilled from the dried grass before the plant flowers. Palmarosa essential oil smells similar to rose essential oil and has been used as a cost-effective replacement. Palmarosa essential oil contains 80% geraniol, which gives the oil its rose-like scent.2

Palmarosa Essential Oil Uses

The versatile palmarosa essential oil has multiple purposes around the home, most notably in beauty and health treatments. With natural antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties, discover the versatility of palmarosa essential oil.1,3,4

Skin Moisturizer
Used as a skin tonic in traditional medicine systems, palmarosa is believed to help re-hydrate dry or delicate skin and to reduce the appearance of age lines. 

For a rejuvenating facial, add 8 drops of palmarosa essential oil to 3 Tsp. of a carrier oil, such as jojoba, avocado, or almond oil. Gently apply to the face and neck, being careful to avoid the eyes, inner nose and mouth. The mixture can also be used as an after shower total body moisturizer.

For a more complex fragrance, add 4 drops of chamomile, 4 drops of carrot seed, and 1 drop of angelica to the moisturizer.

Bath
For a luxurious bath, add 2 drops each of palmarosa, chamomile and lavender essential oils to warm, running bath water.

Foot Soak
For a soothing foot soak, mix 6 drops of palmarosa essential oil, 2 drops of tea tree essential oil, 3 drops of patchouli essential oil and 1 drop of lavender essential oil in a pan of warm water. Rest your feet in the water until the temperature is no longer warm.

Aromatherapy
Add 8 drops of palmarosa essential oil to a diffuser to impart a light floral scent to your home.

Massage 
To create a fragrant and uplifting massage oil, add 5 drops of palmarosa essential oil to 1 Tsp. of carrier oil and massage into the temples, behind the ears, and into the shoulders.

Natural Mosquito Repellent
Palmarosa essential oil may help naturally repel mosquitos.6,7 For a natural mosquito repellent, add 2 oz. of water and 1 oz. of witch hazel into a spray bottle. Next add 10-15 drops of palmarosa essential oil. Finally, add 25 drops of citronella essential oil. Gently shake the mixture before each use.

Apply the mixture to exposed areas of skin to help repel mosquitos indoors and outdoors.7 

Wound Healing 
The natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of palmarosa essential oil may help to prevent the infection of minor cuts and to speed healing.3,4 To clean small cuts and scrapes, add one drop of palmarosa essential oil to a bowl of water, dip a clean cloth into the mixture and apply gently to the wound.

Benefits of Palmarosa Essential Oil

Knowledge of palmarosa essential oil as a healing agent has been passed down through the centuries in the form of herbal remedies. Today, scientists are examining a range of beneficial properties of palmarosa essential oil. The following descriptions review some of the recent scientific studies with palmarosa essential oil.

Natural Insecticide 
Palmarosa essential oil may be an efficient component in a complementary or alternative product for use against the mites causing scabies, Sarcoptes scabiei, in humans. In a recent clinical study, Sarcoptes scabiei mites were put in direct contact with a mixture of 10% palmarosa oil and 90% paraffin. Within one hour, researchers noted all the exposed mites were dead.8 Clovegeranium, tea tree, lavender, manuka, bitter orange, eucalyptus, and Japanese cedar essential oils were also found effective in treating scabies infections.8

Palmarosa essential oil has also been evaluated for its ability to protect stored agricultural products. One study showed that palmarosa essential oil was an effective insecticide against two types of beetles, Callosobruchus chinensis and Tribolium castaneum, commonly found in stored wheat and garbanzo beans.10

Natural Mosquito Repellant
Palmarosa essential oil may be considered as a natural alternative to chemical mosquito repellants. A field study conducted in 1995 demonstrated that palmarosa essential oil was 100% effective against all anopheline species of mosquitos, and 95% effective against the Culex quinquefasciatus species.6

In a separate field study, researchers applied palmarosa essential oil to the exposed areas of skin of volunteers. The results indicate that over a 12-hour period, palmarosa essential oil was 98.7% effective indoors and 96.5% effective outdoors against the malaria-carrying Anopheles sundaicus species of mosquito.7

Antimicrobial Activity
Preliminary evidence shows palmarosa essential oil may be a potential antimicrobial agent in therapeutic compounds. A Brazilian study conducted in 2007 showed that palmarosa essential oil inhibited the growth of 10 out of 13 strains of E. coli.9 As drug-resistant strains of bacteria become increasingly common, the discovery of natural antimicrobial agents has become highly sought after in the scientific community.

Antioxidant Properties
A scientific study conducted in 2011 examined the antioxidant properties of palmarosa essential oil.1 Data suggests that palmarosa essential oil demonstrated good antioxidant action in isolated human lymphocyte cells and supported the use of traditional herbal remedies containing the oil.1

Anti-Inflammatory Qualities
Traditionally used as a skin tonic and topical anti-inflammatory, in 2014, researchers investigated palmarosa essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. To test its activity, researchers used isolated human white blood cells and a range of different palmarosa essential oil doses.

The study showed that all concentrations of palmarosa essential oil exerted an anti-inflammatory effect on the isolated cells. Additionally, data suggests that the essential oil demonstrated immunomodulatory activity, which can help regulate the immune system to help fight disease.4 

Antifungal Activity 
Food borne diseases caused by the toxic activity of fungal pathogens remains a public health problem. Aspergillus flavus is responsible for food contamination that leads to a host of serious human illnesses and mycotoxicoses. A 2014 study demonstrated that in concentrations of 2 millionths of a litre to one thousandths of a litre, palmarosa essential oil was 100% effective in inhibiting the spore germination of toxic fungus by Aspergillus flavus.11

palmarosa essential oil uses and benefits

Side Effects of Palmarosa Essential Oil

Palmarosa essential oil is considered generally safe for inhalation or diluted, topical application. Always read and follow the label instructions.

Avoid applying palmarosa essential oil close to the eyes, inner nose, mouth or ears. Those with sensitive skin should conduct a patch test prior to widespread use.

Palmarosa essential oil is highly concentrated and should not be ingested unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider. Palmarosa essential oil should be kept away from children. This oil is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

Where to Buy Palmarosa Essential Oil

Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through
expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Sinha, S., Biswas, D., & Mukherjee, A. (2011). Antigenotoxic and antioxidant activities of palmarosa and citronella essential oils. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 137(3), 1521–1527. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2011.08.046
  2. Dubey, V. S. & Luthra, R. (2001). Biotransformation of geranyl acetate to geraniol during palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii, Roxb. wats. var. motia) inflorescence development. Phytochemistry, 57, 675–680. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(01)00122-4
  3. Lodhia, M. H., Bhatt, K. R., & Thaker, V. S. (2009). Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils from Palmarosa, Evening Primrose, Lavender and Tuberose. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 71(2), 134–136. doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.54278
  4. Murbach Teles Andrade, B. R., Conti, B. J., Santiago, K. B., Fernandes, Jr., A., Sforcin, J. M. (2014). Cymbopogon martinii essential oil and geraniol at noncytotoxic concentrations exerted immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effects in human monocytes. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 66(10), 1491-1496. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12278
  5. Laiko, J. & Api, A. M., (2006). Investigation of the dermal sensitization potential of various essential oils in the local lymph node assay. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 44(5):739-46. doi 10.1016/j.fct.2005.10.006
  6. Ansari, M. A. & Razdan, R. K. (1995). Relative efficacy of various oils in repelling mosquitoes. Indian Journal of Malariology, 32(3),104-111. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8936292
  7. Das, M. K. & Ansar, M. A. (2003). Evaluation of repellent action of Cymbopogan martinii martinii Stapf var sofia oil against Anopheles sundaicus in tribal villages of Car Nicobar Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. Journal of Vector Borne Diseases, 40, 100–104. Retrieved from http://www.mrcindia.org/journal/issues/403100.pdf
  8. Fang, F., Candy, K., Melloul, E., Bernigaud, C., Chai, L., Darmon, C., Durand, R., Botterel, F., et al., (2016). In vitro activity of ten essential oils against Sarcoptes scabieiParasites & Vectors9, 594. doi: 1186/s13071-016-1889-3
  9. Duarte, M. C., Leme, E. E., Delarmelina, C., Soares, A. A., Figueira, G. M., & Sartoratto, A. (2007). Activity of essential oils from Brazilian medicinal plants on Escherichia coliJournal of Ethnopharmacology, 111(2), 197-201. doi 10.1016/j.jep.2006.11.034
  10. Kumar, R., Srivastava, M., & Dubey, N. K. (2007). Evaluation of Cymbopogon martinii Oil Extract for Control of Postharvest Insect Deterioration in Cereals and Legumes. Journal of Food Protection, 70(1), 172-178. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X-70.1.172
  11. Gemeda, N., Woldeamanuel, Y., Asrat, D., & Debella, A. (2014). Effect of Cymbopogon martinii, Foeniculum vulgare, and Trachyspermum ammi Essential Oils on the Growth and Mycotoxins Production by Aspergillus Species. International Journal of Food Science, 2014http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/874135