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Pelargonium graveolens

Pelargonium graveolens

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Rose geranium, geranium, poor-man’s rose, oleum geranii, pelargonia

Original Habitat

Pelargonium graveolens is a shrub that has a mint-like scent and produces pinkish-white flowers. This plant originated in South Africa but now is grown in China, Egypt, Morocco and India. This perennial shrub grows to around a meter tall and thrives in a low-humidity, warm climate.

Plant Part Used

Leaves and flowers


The essential oil of P. graveolens is found in numerous foods and beverages including gelatin, pudding and alcoholic beverages. It is also used in candy and chewing gum. In the fragrance industry it is used as a rose substitute. In therapeutic aromatherapy it is primarily used in formulations and less often as a single oil.[1]


The thin oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of the plant during the flowering season. It is orange-yellow to a yellowish-green in colour with a floral ‘rose’ fragrance. It is often substituted for rose oil in less expensive products, though its fragrance is lighter and less complex than rose. There are two types of Rose geranium oil: Bourbon and North African.[2] The Bourbon type, cultivated in Madagascar, is considered more valuable.

Chemical Constituents

Citronellyl formate[1][3][4]

Note:  This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Disinfectant, antibacterial +++
Fungicidal ++
Analgesic ++
Haemostatic +++
General tonic and astringent tonic +++
Sympathetic and parasympathetic calmant => antispasmodic ++

Antioxidant– A laboratory study examined the antioxidant activity of P. graveolens oil and by-products of the oil. The study demonstrated that all plant parts, oil and by-products have anti-oxidant activity and that this activity may differ depending upon the time of day the plant is harvested and processed.[5]

Antifungal- Melaleuca alternifolia, Origanum vulgare and Pelargonium graveolens essential oils were combined with amphotericin B against several strains of Candida. All essential oils showed a synergistic effect with amphotericin B, however, P. graveolens had the strongest antifungal activity.[6]

In another laboratory study, the antifungal effects of ketoconazole were found to be strongly enhanced when combined with rose geranium essential oil. This may lessen the amount of the drug needed to treat this type of infection.[7]

Anti-inflammatory: In an animal study, the essential oil of Rose geranium demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.[8]

Antibacterial- Rose geranium essential was combined with the conventional antibiotic Norfloxacin. This combination was used against Bacillus cereus ATCC 11778, Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633, Escherichia coli ATCC 35218, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 and S. aureus ATCC 29213. Antibacterial action was seen with 3 out of the 5 types of bacteria. The study concluded that the antibacterial activity of this specific combination could reduce the amount of antibiotic needed for infections, therefore, lessening the side effects of the drug.[9]

Traditional Use

Cutaneous, vaginal and digestive mycosis (candidiasis) ++
Wounds, cuts, stretch marks (prevention) +++
Nervous colitis, hepato-pancreatic disorders ++
Osteo-articular rheumatism ++

Insecticide- P. graveolens essential oil was shown to be effective as an insecticide against Dermatophagoides farinae and D. pteronyssinus which are commonly know as bed bugs. The two constituents responsible for this action were geraniol and citronellol.[4]

Contraindications and Precautions

None noted at therapeutic doses



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

2.     Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H. Common fragrance and flavor materials: Third Edition. New York: Wiley-VCH; 1997.

3.     Shin S. Anti-Aspergillus activities of plant essential oils and their combination effects with ketoconazole or amphotericin B. Arch Pharm Res. May2003;26(5):389-393.

4.     Jeon JH. Mite-control activities of active constituents isolated from Pelargonium graveolens against house dust mites. J Microbiol Biotechnol. Oct2008;18(10):1666-1671.

5.     Sun W. Study on antioxidant activity of essential oils and its monomer from Pelargonium graveolens. Article in Chinese. Zhong Yao Cai. Feb2005;28(2):87-89.

6.     Rosato A. The inhibition of Candida species by selected essential oils and their synergism with amphotericin B. Phytomedicine. Aug2008;15(8):635-638.

7.     Shin S. Antifungal effects of herbal essential oils alone and in combination with ketoconazole against Trichophyton spp. J Appl Microbiol. 2004;97(6):1289-1296.

8.     Ganapaty S. Chemical composition and antiinflammatory activity of Pelargonium graveolens oil (Geranium). Indian Journal of Natural Products. CABI Abstract.

9.     Rosato A. Antibacterial effect of some essential oils administered alone or in combination with Norfloxacin. Phytomedicine. Nov2007;14(11):727-732. 

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