Reprinted with the kind permission of Dr. Mercola
Are you currently dealing with skin problems like eczema? Even with minor skin problems, you may be prescribed pharmaceutical drugs or ointments that do more harm than good. Instead, you should try drug-free options first.
The use of essential oils for skin health is popular among aromatherapy practitioners and alternative medicine supporters. One of the more popular oils is palmarosa, also known as Cymbopogon martinii, which helps treat dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.1 Of course, this essential oil can do more than just treat skin issues. Keep reading to learn more about the uses and benefits of palmarosa oil.
What Is Palmarosa Oil?
Palmarosa, also known as Indian or Turkish geranium, rosha or motia, is a type of tropical grass native to India and is known for its rich supply of volatile oils. The herbaceous green grass shares similarities with lemongrass and citronella.2
The two types of palmarosa from which the essential oil is obtained are sofia and motia, and they vary slightly in their scent, from rose-like to lemony, spicy or citrus-like.3,4 The name "palmarosa" was given to the plant because of its fragrance similar to rose oil and in the past, Turks blended the oil with the more expensive rose oil.
In fact, some unscrupulous wholesalers and retailers today market oil of palmarosa as rose oil, which led to consumers questioning palmarosa oil's true qualities.
Uses of Palmarosa Oil
While the plant oil has many therapeutic uses, it is most frequently used for skin care because of its moisturizing properties.5 Palmarosa oil is used to treat skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, as well as boils, abscesses and acne, as well. Animals may also benefit from this gentle plant oil. Specifically, dog skin disorders and horse skin fungus and dermatitis are just some animal skin conditions palmarosa oil can help treat.
Other uses of palmarosa oil include relieving stress, anxiety, and nervous exhaustion, and alleviating arthritis and rheumatism when massaged onto the affected areas.6 It's also noteworthy that modern research has found that aromatherapy with palmarosa has beneficial effects in treating neuralgia, epileptic conditions and anorexia.7
Composition of Palmarosa Oil
The main chemical constituents found in palmarosa essential oil are myrcene, linalool, geraniol, geranyl acetate, dipentene, and limonene. Geraniol, the most predominant of these compounds, makes up 70 to 80 percent of the oil. It is a monoturpenoid, which functions to reprogram miswritten information in cellular memory.8 This compound helps stimulate cell growth which, in turn, repairs damaged DNA. Palmarosa oil also owes its rosy fragrance to this chemical compound.9
Benefits of Palmarosa Oil
Palmarosa oil is well-known for its hydrating properties,10 and can assist in preventing inflammation and quelling dehydration. It also balances the sebum or oil production of your skin, aids in the healing of cuts and bruises, and helps remedy acne breakouts.
Palmarosa oil's health benefits are also often attributed to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. In one study11 that tested the antibacterial activity of four types of essential oils — palmarosa, evening primrose, lavender, and tuberose – researchers found that palmarosa essential oil was the most effective against gram-positive Escherichia coli and gram-negative Staphylococcus aureus species of bacteria.
Other research12 showed the essential oil's efficacy against a strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It was suggested that this effect was due to palmarosa's geraniol content. It was also found that exposure to the oil led to changes in the composition of the yeast cell membrane, with increased saturated fat and reduced unsaturated fat.
Palmarosa oil can also serve as an antiviral agent, especially when blended with other virus-fighting oils like anise star oil or ravensara oil.13 The oil can also protect wounds from infection with its function as an antiseptic. When taken internally, palmarosa oil can suppress bacterial growth in your urinary tract.14
Your digestive system also benefits from palmarosa essential oil, as it promotes the production of stomach acid. This aids in nutrient absorption, making the digestion process smoother and more efficient.
How to Make Palmarosa Oil
Like other plant oils, palmarosa oil is extracted from the plant through steam distillation. As the plant matures, its flowers darken and become red. The flowers are harvested just before they fully turn red, and are dried until the capillaries burst to release the plant's volatile oils. Only then are the harvested plants steam distilled. This produces an oil with a yellow color and fragrance similar to rose essential oil.
It is important to harvest the palmarosa plant at the appropriate time as this may affect quality. If gathered too soon or too late, not dried properly, or if distilled before the plant releases its essential oils, you may be looking at an inferior quality product.
How Does Palmarosa Oil Work?
Palmarosa oil can be diffused in burners and vaporizers, added to bath water, or simply applied topically. Below are some ways on how to use this essential oil:15
• Mix a few drops of palmarosa oil to ointments and skincare creams to treat skin infections and help clean wounds to prevent them from being septic.
• Add 2 to 3 drops of this plant oil to your bathwater or use it as a massage oil to prevent pain, spasms, convulsions and skin problems.
• Massage your skin with 2 drops of palmarosa oil blended with coconut oil. Doing so will moisturize your skin and fight signs of aging like wrinkles. Oil of palmarosa can also help treat Candida, shingles, rashes, acne and blemishes.
• Add 2 to 3 drops of this oil to your diffuser, air freshener, vaporizer or even a cloth. Its rosy fragrance will help comfort your mind and body. It may even treat nervousness and anxiety, and instill positivity.
Palmarosa oil blends particularly well with rosemary, ylang-ylang, geranium and lime oils.
Is Palmarosa Oil Safe?
The essential oil of palmarosa is considered completely safe. It is a nonirritant, nonsensitizing and nontoxic plant oil. However, as an extra precaution, I advise you to never use it without dilution. I recommend blending palmarosa oil with a milder carrier oil like coconut oil.
Do not use this oil without consulting with an experienced aromatherapy practitioner or physician. While there are no recorded side effects on the use of palmarosa oil, always err on the side of caution. To check if you're allergic to this oil, I suggest you do a skin patch test: Apply a drop on a small area of your skin and observe for any adverse reactions.
Palmarosa essential oil has been rated as "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS) for internal consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, it should not be ingested without the supervision of an aromatherapist.
Pregnant and nursing women should first consult their doctor before using palmarosa oil, while children below 6 should be kept away from any essential oil because of their sensitive systems.
Sources and References
1 Experience-Essential-Oils.com, Palmarosa Essential Oil
2 Aromatherapy Bible, Palmarosa
3 Esoteric Oils, Palmarosa essential oil information
4 Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy Blog
5 Healthy Haven Blog, March 2, 2012
6 MegaOils.com, Palmarosa Essential Oil Benefits, Uses and Reviews
7 Neuroprotective Activity of Cymbopogon martinii Against Cerebral Ischemia/Reperfusion-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rats
8 Traces Etc., Palmarosa Essential Oil (Cymbopogan Martinii) (PDF)
9 International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics, 2009;3(2-3):56-65 (PDF)
10 OrganicFacts.net, Health Benefits of Palma Rosa Essential Oil
11 Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, April 2009; 71(2):134-136
12 Phytochemistry, July 2003;63(5):569-75
13 Aromatherapy Lifestyle, Palmarosa Essential Oil
14 OrganicFacts.net, Health Benefits of Palma Rosa Essential Oil
15 Ayurvedic Oils, May 26, 2013
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