A Tale of Citronella

Synopsis: A cautionary tale about using essential oils.

Tomato tales – a tale with Citronella

By Jeanne Rose

citronella-eo-distillation

            I have a long history using essential oils, sometimes excessively but more and more often quite frugally. They are such concentrated bundles of plant power that only a wee bit, a drop maybe two, is needed to complete your healing protocol.   So it was 10 pm and I was in bed trying to have a nice sleep.

There are always essential oils around my bedside and on the tables. Sometimes I use them, and sometimes I don’t. But this one night I had gone to bed with my mind racing over the events of the day as well as the events that would take my attention the next day.

I love a comfy bed and I was laying on my back in my bed thinking busy thought. My bed was made up with freshly ironed linen sheets that had the most elegant initials on the top edge and it was tucked up near my chin. The monogram was a very large ornate one made of French laid white work style with the initials “H R Hand swirls of flowers in French knots around the monogram and all sewn on with good heavy weight thread on the finely made linen cloth. The sheets were heavy and yet crisp and delicately soothing on the skin — a lovely addition to the bed and on the body; the scent in the sheets was clean with a soft mustiness and floral note intertwined with a rich Sandalwood scent lightly enveloping the entire bed area. The pillowcases were heavily laced and were cool and white with a fine delicate fragrance that can only come with time on the bed and equal time hanging in the sun and resting. These are the best to sleep on. There is a hand, a rough gentleness to linen sheets and cases. They are warm when it is cold but cool when it is warm. They don’t glide on the skin but rest there giving you comfort and sleepy feelings.

But I could not sleep. So in the darkness, I reached out to the bottles and found the Citronella bottle by its size, opened the bottle and proceeded to sprinkle a few drops on the top sheet. So you know that Citronella is both an insect repellent but also promotes relaxation and reduces stress. But reaching out in the dark was a Big mistake! There was no orifice reducer to the bottle and so about ¼ ounce of EO spilled out and all over me and the top of the bed.

First I thought that I could hide from the scent by folding the sheet a different way to keep the heavy scent from my nostrils. No! Then I thought by folding the sheet way down that would work. No, that did not work. The Citronella odor was heavy and so strong and loud enough to wake the next door neighbor.

But I was tired and did not want to get up but began to be sick to my stomach from the odor. I was forced out of bed, and changed out of my bed clothes into new ones but that did not help either. By now I was so overwhelmed with Citronella odor that I could not breathe. I lay down again but began to retch. Then it hit, the scent, so strong on me and my body, in my bedroom, that I ran to the toilet and threw up.

Ultimately, I had to not only change my bed clothes and wash the upper part of my body but change my sheets as well – so an hour or so after I decided a drop of Citronella would help me to sleep, I finally got into a somewhat scent-free bed and with guts a’rumbling, finally fell asleep.

What is the moral of this tale? Turn on the light when you wish to use the power of essential oils? Don’t use essential oils without an orifice reducer? Be moderate in your use of essential oils? Whatever the moral, I have developed a rather abiding dislike of the scent of Citronella and from now on I will stick to having a cup of herbal tea before bed – probably Lemon Verbena.

          Moderation is the word when using essential oils.

And understand that sensitivity to a scent can happen at any time. —JeanneRose 2000

JR

3 thoughts on “A Tale of Citronella

  1. I always enjoy Tomato Tales and it fixes so many other details about a plant to have a story attached. I can enjoy a chuckle over this one because I wasn’t the recipient of the dousing. However, having had a similar one with Patchouli essential oil I know it is no laughing matter when on the receiving end.

  2. Oh Citronella. Had you tinctured it and put a drop in your night tea the citral in there would the citral in there helped you sleep? Or is it mostly only Citronellal in there which is not a sedative?

    • The tale was about using the essential oil of Citronella and using it in the dark without an orifice reducer. I rarely use tinctures (alcohol extracts) except in perfumery. I would never use Citronella EO in my tea, only an herbal infusion should I want to use one. So basically I don’t understand the question as I never said Citronella was a sedative I said it “is both an insect repellent but also promotes relaxation and reduces stress”. Hope this clears this up for you.

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