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Geranium - Pelargonium graveolens

The plant that we commonly refer to nowadays as the geranium isn't actually a geranium, but a pelargonium. The actual geranium plants are the Geranium robertianum [Herb Robert - British] and the Geranium maculatum [American Cranesbill - USA], which have been used since antiquity to treat conditions such as dysentery, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, peptic ulcers, inflammations, metorrhagia and menorrhagia.
• Herb Robert [aka 'stinking Bob' because of its strong odour] grows up to 2 inches tall, with deeply cleft red-green leaves and bright pink flowers, and is a useful astringent and a wound healer.
• The American Cranesbill is a 2ft perennial with pink-purple flowers and deeply cleft leaves. The Native Americans used the roots and the aerial parts for treating sore throats, mouth ulcers, oral thrush, and infected gums. As the plants use spread to Europe, it was used to staunch wounds and was often prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]
! Warning : American Cranesbill should only be taken for a few weeks at a time !

But that' quite enough talk about those two plants, the one we're here to look at is Pelargonium graveolens : a pleasantly aromatic perennial shrub, growing up to 1m tall, with small pink flowers. Oil is extracted from the leaves by steam distillation - the principal constituents of the essential oil are citronellol and geraniol, making it an effective mosquito repellent. The oil is also used as a remedy for lice.

Geranium has anti-depressant, antiseptic, and astringent properties, it also promotes speedy healing, and is an adrenal cortex stimulant, making it good for menopausal problems and all conditions where a fluctuating hormone balance is indicated.

Geranium oil is effective at balancing the production of sebum, making it ideal for oily complexions, or congested skin, and is a useful remedy for acne - although it is equally good for treating mature skin, and healing broken capillaries. It has been used for engorgement of the breasts, as well as treating cellulitis, and is also useful for relieving PMT, nervous tension, neuralgia, and stress-related conditions.


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