You know what geraniums are (and if you don’t, go check your mother’s garden).
But what is geraniol? And how can you use this terpene to improve your products and your health?
In this post, we’ll answer your questions about this powerful terpene, including geraniol uses, benefits, and potential side effects.
Let’s do it.
What is Geraniol?
Here’s a quick rundown of the science:
Geraniol is a chemical compound in the terpene family. Chemical building blocks called isoprenes make up terpenes, and geraniol is what’s called an acyclic monoterpene alcohol. Monoterpenoid means that geraniol contains two copies of the building block isoprenes. Acyclic means that geraniol does not contain a ring in its chemical structure.
It’s found in natural plant essential oils that come from plants and fruits like geranium oil, palmarosa oil, Java citronella oil, or rose oil. (1)
How Can Your Brand Use It?
We use geraniol in consumer products like cosmetics and as food additives for its flavor and smell. Its sweet rose odor has hints of citrus, so it’s the perfect fragrance material for perfumes and creams. You may find the smell relaxes you for meditative moments when used in aromatherapy. Companies also use it in small quantities to enhance flavors like lemon, grapefruit, lime, and orange.
People who research ways to make stronger with specific health benefits think terpenes like geraniol may act together with certain botanical chemicals in a process known as the entourage effect (2). This effect describes when two chemicals act together to produce a chemical effect that is stronger than either chemical alone.
Health Benefits of Geraniol
Aside from its use as a flavor and an aroma, scientific literature suggests geraniol has many therapeutic uses. It seems the terpene boasts antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Take a look:
Insect Repellent and Pesticide
If you're worried about creating or using a harmful stable fly or mosquito repellent, check this out:
Geraniol candles repelled mosquitoes and sandflies five times more effectively than citronella candles and two times more effectively than linalool candles.
Studies suggest geraniol also works as an effective pesticide against various types of mitea critter from your darkest nightmares when viewed under a microscope.
Finally, researchers found essential oil with geraniol as its main active ingredient kills tiny parasitic worms found in certain fish (6).
Specific essential oils make good insect repellents and insecticides because they are natural, biodegradable extracts. This means the oils don't stick around to harm the environment after we toss them.
Antimicrobial and Antibacterial
This terp is more than a one-trick pony. Sure, it helps make a killer bug spray. But it also acts as an antimicrobial agent to destroy bacteria and fungi harmful to our health!
Much like it enhances the effects of certain compounds through the entourage effect, geraniol may also act together with other compounds to fight microbial disease.
Studies suggest geraniol protects against the harmful fungus Candida albicans (7) which causes yeast infections and thrush. It can also knock out harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning like Campylobacter jejuni, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica (8). These bacteria can make you sick and may even cause death in severe cases when left untreated.
Antioxidant, Antitumor, Anticancer
Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs inside the human body. Oxidizing chemicals called free radicals can damage human DNA and other components inside cells. They’re thought to contribute to aging, arteriosclerosis and asthma (9).
Terpenes in essential oils act like hitmen contracted to wipe out free radicals by scavenging them in your body (10). This neutralizes the free radicals, rendering them inactive and unable to cause damage.
In the frustrating and uncertain world that is dealing with geraniol shows promise as a natural way to fight back.
The ability to fight inflammation often goes hand-in-hand with the antioxidant properties described above.
Scientists demonstrated the protective effects of geraniol on rat subjects that suffered traumatic spinal injuries. Using the terpene, the researchers suppressed pro-inflammatory signaling pathways to reduce the rats’ inflammatory responses. Plus, this study showed off the terp’s ability to reduce oxidative stress responsible for tissue damage (14).
But our sugary, fatty, Western diets are a much more common cause of inflammation (15). In a study on animals fed an atherogenic diet-one that causes plaque to build up in your arteries-geraniol helped reduce the effects of the diet by enhancing the body’s free radical scavenging abilities and inhibiting the inflammatory responses (16).
This doesn’t mean you should go out and stuff your face with Big Macs thinking geraniol will immediately solve the resulting health issues. But it does mean natural supplementation with food containing the terpene can help reduce symptoms related to your body’s inflammatory response system.
Potential Side Effects
Anecdotal evidence suggests allergic contact dermatitis, or sensitive human skin irritation, may be a side effect of topical geraniol use (17). This is true for many substances you use daily, including soaps and detergents. Whether you have sensitive skin or not, you’ll want to read the instructions that come with our isolates to make sure you’re using it correctly.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes geraniol as safe for human consumption when used appropriately (18), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempts it from registration when used as a pesticide or insecticide-unlike harmful, unnatural chemicals.
Conclusion: Geraniol Terpenes Pack a Punch
We use geraniol as a common additive to food and cosmetics for its full flavor and sweet rose aroma. Beyond its commercial use, the terpene shows promise as an insect repellent, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory compound.