Pelargonium species are evergreen flowering plants indigenous to South Africa. They are drought and heat tolerant. The name comes from the Greek "pelargos" which means Stork. Another name for this plant being storksbill due to the shape of its fruit. The fragrant Pelargoniums can be divided into multiple categories depending on their predominant scents, that include rose, lemon, mint, spice, pungent, and oak-leaved.
Pelargonium Or Scented Geranium Benefits
Pelargonium or scented Geranium is a flowering plant, the leaves of which are used to extract an essential oi,l that offers a myriad of health and beauty benefits.
Leaves Of Pelargonium graveolans Are Used To Extract The Essential Oil
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About the essential oil
The original plant is a native of the Cape of Good Hope and was introduced to the world in the early 16th century. Pelargonium graveolans is the source of an essential oil used for aromatherapy. It is an erect, multi-branched shrub. Considered "the poor man's rose", its scent resembles that of the rose, and its oil is used as an alternative to the expensive rose oil. Altogether there are more than 80 varieties of scented geraniums cultivated in window boxes and ornamental gardens throughout the world. The highest quality and most expensive essential oil is produced in the French Island Reunion and is known as the Geranium Bourbon Essential Oil.
The essential oil offers a myriad of benefits. It is used to treat acne, sore throat, depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. It is a natural antiseptic that helps speed up wound healing. It also provides a natural cure to skin conditions such as athlete's foot, eczema, fungal infections, frostbite and burns. It helps reduce muscle aches and is used by frequent travellers as a natural insect repellent. The major actives in geranium essential oil are citronellol (26.7%) and geraniol (13.4%).
Uses of Geranium Essential Oil:
- It has natural astringent properties that make it a natural remedy for acne. When applied on a regular basis, mixed in a carrier or vehicle oil, it helps prevent sagging of skin, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and makes muscles look toned up.
- It hastens wound healing by triggering clot formation. It also prevents the toxins from open wounds to reach the bloodstream.
- It is a natural deodorant.
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How To Make Pelargonium Essential Oil
On a commercial basis, the essential oil is extracted from stems and leaves of the plant through steam distillation. To prepare it on your own, you require geranium (pelargonium) leaves, mortar and pestle, carrier or vehicle oil such as jojoba, a large jar with lid, small bottles with lids, strainer and a cheesecloth.
Pluck fresh leaves from a Pelargonium plant. Remove the adherent dirt and debris by washing them in cold water. Dry the leaves by gently patting them with a paper towel. Hand grind the leaves using pestle and mortar. Leave them as such for a few hours, then transfer to the larger jar. Pour some carrier oil just enough to cover the leaves. Then seal the jar, place it in a cool dry spot, and set aside for two weeks. Add few more ground leaves to make the scent stronger and set aside for another week. If fragrance is too strong, dilute it with the vehicle oil. Pour this oil into small sterilized jars or bottles through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth. This will separate crushed leaves from the oil. Once the oil has been transferred, seal the bottles and store them in a cool dry place.
Ways to use this scented oil
Place a few drops onto a clean cloth and take the scent, or use in an aromatherapy diffuser. Inhaling this oil helps regulate heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and reduces stress levels. To treat athlete's foot, add 5 drops of this essential oil into a foot bath made of warm water and sea salt.
As with other essential oils, it should not be applied directly to the skin as a massage oil, but a few drops can be mixed in a carrier oil like olive or sweet almond oil. It should not be used in young children. Pregnant and nursing women should exercise caution when using it.
Pelargonium leaves retain the fragrance for years, and can be dried and crumbled, then sewn into sachets or stirred into potpourri. Mesh bags containing newly picked herbs can be steeped in bath water to add perfume while the leaves of lemon-scented varieties can be added to finger bowls.