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Citronella Oil and Candida Yeast

How to Use Citronella Oil for Candida Infections

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Citronella Stalks Grouped TogetherCitronella essential oil for Candida yeast is a useful natural remedy.  Citronella is obtained from species of lemongrass (Cymbopogon).  As stated elsewhere on this site, lemongrass essential oil is also fungicidal; hence, it can be used to allay yeast infections.  Lemongrass oil is created from a different species of Cymbopogon than citronella oil is; that species is Cymbopogon citratus.

There are two types of citronella oil you can find, and there may be differences in their fungicidal efficacy.  Citronella oil is classified in trade into two chemotypes: ceylon and java.  They are obtained from two different species of lemongrass and vary greatly in their chemical constituents.  

The greatest difference of importance is perhaps the ratios of citronellal and geraniol found in the two different oil types.  Both citronellal and geraniol have been shown to have the ability to stop certain types of Candida.  But citronellal was much more efficacious at stopping Candida krusei than geraniol.  Thus using an oil higher in citronellal might be the best choice for the most common yeast infection species; i.e. Candida albicans. The components of each chemotype are listed below.

Citronella Essential Oil

A caveat to consider is that the best way to treat a yeast infection with essential oil is by mixing several different oils together.  The well known expert, Dr. James Duke, in his book The Green Pharmacy, suggests mixing medicinal herbs together to create a synergistic healing effect.  This same logic can be employed with essential oils, since they are merely distillates of plant chemicals (such as terpenes, etc.).  To find other Candida killing oils you can check out this page: essential oils for yeast infection

Ceylon Type Citronella Oil

This type of citronella is obtained from the Cymbopogon nardus plant.  The common nomenclatures for this plant are nard grass, citronella grass, nardus, and mana grass.  The approximate major chemical components of ceylon oil are:

  • geraniol (35.7% of total volatiles)
  • trans-citral (22.7%)
  • cis-citral (14.2%)
  • geranyl acetate (9.7%)
  • citronellal (5.8%)
  • citronellol (4.6%)

Ceylon citronella oil, as you will see, has much less citronellal than the java type of the oil.

Java Type Citronella Oil

Java type citronella oil is produced from the Cymbopogon winterianus species.  Winterianus is also known by the common English names citronella, citronella grass, and java citronella grass.  The approximate major chemicals found in oil from Cymbopogon winterianus include the following:  

  • citronellal (35.9%)
  • geraniol (20.9%)
  • alfa-Cadinol (8.0%)
  • germacrene B (6.8%)
  • citronellol (5.2%)


There have been many studies done on Cymbopogon species and their effects on fungus.  One study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology (July 2015), tested the java citronella oil on Candida albicans strains.  The study found that this essential oil was a potent killer of Candida yeast.  The strongest concentration of this oil was able to quickly kill Candida albicans.  Weaker concentrations took much longer to kill of the yeast.  Concentrations of this oil that were able to kill all the strains of Candida albicans tested was 1.25 milligrams / milliliter. The researchers compared the efficacy of java citronella essential oil to the conventional prescription drugs amphotericin B and nystatin.

Another study, published in Clinical Oral Investigations (March 2015), found that ceylon type oil from Cymbopogon nardus was comparable in its inhibitory ability against Candida albicans as java type oil from Cymbopogon winterianus.  However, the study on java type oil found drastically different inhibitory concentrations for various strains of Candida albicans.  Some strains were inhibited with very low concentrations and other strains required much more java oil to inhibit.  Thus, it is possible that the study on ceylon oil involved different strains of Candida albicans that were perhaps more susceptible.  Either way, the ability of both types of citronella oil to combat Candida is established.

*MIC stands for minimum inhibitory concentration

How to Take Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) Oil

  • Topical Use: Dilute the oil before you use it directly on the problem area.  Once diluted, you can apply it directly to the site that needs attention.
  • Oral Use: Citronella oil generally regarded as safe for human consumption by the U.S. FDA.  You can use one drop of oil in 4 ounces of liquid or 1 teaspoon of honey.  Do not let children under 6 years old ingest this essential oil!
  • Cautions: Repetitious use of this oil can cause contact sensitization.  Citronella can cause irritation to sensitive skin.  Be cautious if you are using this oil while you are pregnant.  Inhaling citronella oil with a diffuser can cause an increase in your heart rate.

Using Citronella Essential Oil

  • Insect Repellant -- In the Tropical Medicine & International Health (April 2011) journal, researchers suggested that citronella oil, when combined with vanillin, provided good protection against mosquitos for up to three hours.  The study also analyzed the ability of this combination against DEET.
  • Digestive System Inflammation -- Citronella oil may also help stop inflammation in the digestive tract, liver, and stomach.  Try adding a little essential oil to your tea to help sooth your stomach and other areas of the digestive system.
  • Antiseptic Cleaning Agent -- Citronella oil can kill some types of bacteria and fungus and is therefore a good antiseptic.  Additionally, this oil has a pleasant smell.  You may want to add this oil to cleaning liquids and use it to clean around the house.  It can leave your rooms smelling fresh and clean in addition to killing off harmful microorganisms.  Try it in your mop water next time you clean up your floors.  



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