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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Geranium essential oil is often confused with rose essential oil; however, geranium oil has its own therapeutic properties and uses in aromatherapy too.

Use of Geranium in History

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil was used as far back in history as ancient Egyptian times; the Egyptians used geranium oil to treat cancerous tumors.  Geranium was brought to Europe in the late 17th century and became popular during the Victorian era; fresh leaves of geranium were placed at formal dining tables and used as finger bowls.  In the Victorian parlor, the potted rose geranium plant was placed on tables, where a fresh sprig could be obtained.

Botanical Profile of Geranium

Geranium was originally a native of South Africa but today it is widely cultivated in Europe, Central America, Egypt, Russia, Japan and the Congo.  The main producers of geranium oil are Egypt, Russia and Reunion (from where Bourbon geranium originates).  Geranium is a perennial shrub which grows up to three feet in height; it has small, pink flowers and pointy, serrated-edged leaves.

Different Types of Geranium

There are over 700 varieties of cultivated geranium and pelargonium plants; many are grown for ornamental purposes in the garden.  Pelargonium graveolens is the main species cultivated for essential oil; geranium essential oils may differ in properties depending in which country the plant originated from.  There is also an essential oil called Bulgarian geranium oil which is, in fact, not from the Pelargonium species and is different to that of Pelargonium graveolens.

Rose Oil or Geranium Oil?

Geranium is often confused with rose (Rosa damascena) essential oil, due to its rose-like scent,  in fact, geranium is frequently used to adulterate rose oil.  Rose geranium essential oil is also often confused with that of Pelargonium graveolens; rose geranium oil is actually Pelargonium graveolens essential oil with a minute percentage of rose essential oil added to it.

Use of Geranium Essential Oil in Aromatherapy

Geranium essential oil is obtained from the steam distillation of the leaves; both geraniums and pelargoniums belong to the Geraniaceae plant family.  Geranium essential oil is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, relaxing, decongestant, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, balancing and uplifting.  It is commonly used for childhood ailments such as chicken pox, measles and mumps.

Geranium essential oil is also a favorite with women as it is useful in treating many “women's” problems; these include menstrual and menopausal problems, breast congestion, cellulite and fluid retention.  It can also be used to treat shingles, herpes, eczema, dry skin and athletes foot and is both moisturizing and regenerative for the skin.

Use of Geranium in Perfumery

Geranium is a valued commodity in the perfumery world and is often used to fragrance perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and creams.  It has many of the same properties as those of rose essential oil but can be used for a far lesser price; however, it is open to frequent adulteration in fragrances due to its popularity.  Geranium essential oil is also used as an insect repellent and as a flavoring ingredient in food, alcoholic and soft drinks.


- Davis, Patricia 1999 Aromatherapy An A-Z UK: Vermilion
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Geranium Essential Oil

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

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