Essential Essentials: Geranium

Geranium oil is distilled from the species Pelargonium Graveolens, although Pelargonium odoratissimum and others are also oil producing species. Geranium belongs to the Geraniaceae family. The essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves, stalks and flowers and absolutes and concretes are produced in Morocco. In addition to its use in aromatherapy, the oil is used in cosmetic and skin care products, perfumes and as a flavoring agent in foods, alcoholic and soft drinks.

The plant grows to a height of up to one meter and is a perennial with hairy, serrated leaves and small pink flowers. All of the plant is aromatic. The three main oil producing regions of the world are Reunion (Bourbon oil), Egypt and Russia. Some oil is produced in China.

The main chemical constituents are citronellol, geraniol, linalol, isomenthone, menthone, phellandrene, sabinene and limonene. It has a green, clean, sweet scent. Some have a rosy scent and is used to 'stretch' rose oil. Sometimes it is called rose geranium, although some suppliers sell a Rose Geranium oil which is a blend of Rose and Geranium, so this can be confusing. Geranium is generally considered to be a middle note in perfumery and Piesse attributed it to the 'C' on his 'odophone'.

Energetically, Geranium is a water oil and is said to be ruled by Venus. I would consider it to be a yin oil, although with its balancing qualities, it could be considered a yin/yang oil as it can be stimulating. Its green color and floral qualities, plus Venus rulership suggest it is an oil that could be used in work with the heart chakra.

Where Rose would help in giving and receiving love, Geranium can help with healing and balancing the emotions. Some people find it to be a powerful aphrodisiac, so it could also be used when working with the sacral chakra. Scott Cunningham suggest that it is a good protector against negative or unwanted energies. It's clean, clear scent also attests to this.

On the physical level, it has many uses. In skin care it can be used on all skin types, where there is an imbalance -- too dry or too oily, also edemic conditions. It seems to have the property of balancing sebum production and also acts as a diuretic. It also has antiseptic and astringent properties while being a very safe and gentle oil. Some writers suggest that it has rejuvenating properties and Jeanne Rose suggests it in a blend for post-operative or post-plastic surgery care.

Another of Geranium's attributes is that it seems to be a stimulant of the adrenal cortex and this explains its usefulness in the hormonal imbalances of the menopause and in adolescence. It's haemostatic properties can also be useful in excessive bleeding during the menopause. In cases of diabetes, it can act as a support to the pancreas, as it is reputed to be a pancreatic restorative.

Maggie Tisserand mentions in Aromatherapy for Women that she uses it with Rosemary in a bath for jet-lag and with Lavender as a compress for hang-overs. Geranium is also used in blends to restore breast tone and is said to be useful in mastitis and breast engorgement.

In herbal medicine, Geranium has been used as a gargle for sore-throats, and the oil can be used in a mouthwash with Myrrh for gum problems and mouth ulcers.

In Herbs and Things, Jeanne Rose recounts the story that the prophet Mahomet was on a walk and he stopped to wash his shirt and say his prayers. He put his shirt on a bush to dry and when he removed it, the bush had changed into the Geranium. I guess the modest Geranium is really a gift from the gods!

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

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By Ann Berwick

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