Appearing commonly in perfumes, talcum powders, tablet and liquid soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, bath or shower gels, liquid detergents, fabric softeners, potpourri, and incense, geranyl acetate is a highly fragrant, organic compound. Geranyl acetate is a monoterpene (a class of terpene that are most often the product of secondary metabolism in plants), and a natural component of over sixty essential oils.
Used commonly in the products mentioned above, and even as a flavoring, it is also an ester— an organic compound that reacts with water to produce alcohols or acids that goes by such names as bay pine, geraniol acetate and others.1 A colorless liquid, when it is condensed it has a somewhat yellow hue. Its strong aromatic profile features the scent of rose and lavender, though it is also noted for fruity components similar to a pear, apple, peach, and banana. It is also noted as being antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
Of course, as a terpene, its benefits are wide-ranging, but there are also specific benefits from the use of geranyl acetate within any individual essential oil.
Geranyl Acetate as a Terpene
Experts now accept the ancient traditional medical practitioners’ beliefs around different plants and botanicals. As one expert noted, “practitioners have known for millennia that plants have the power to prevent, treat, or otherwise improve a number of medical conditions. Plants contain bioactive phytochemicals, such as tocopherols, polyphenols and ascorbic acid, which perform important functions in both plants and human. Terpenoids (aka isoprenoids) are another beneficial phytochemical — one that many people haven’t heard of before.”2
This is interesting when you realize that it is terpenoids (terpenes) that represent around 40,000 different compounds, with new ones being identified on a regular basis. Plants employ the different metabolites of terpenes to support everything from repair to growth and development, as well as specialized chemical reactions that allow for protection and other functions. Humans, too, respond to terpenes and it is why essential oils are so commonly used. After all, terpenes are the main constituents of so many essential oils.
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Responsible for much of any plant’s aromatic profile, they are commonly used by the fragrance industry and food flavorings industries. Yet, the terpene, geranyl acetate, is put to use for more than that.
Using Geranyl Acetate
Because of its lovely floral and fruit aromas, it is beneficial to many industries. As one expert notes, geranyl acetate is used in “perfumery because of its sweet floral rose or lavender fragrance. It is used for its fragrance in soaps and creams and also as a flavor enhancer. It is used in the formulation of rose, lavender and geranium flavors to impart a sweet fruity or citrus smell.”3
Another notes that it can provide products such as cannabis products with a scent that many appreciate.4 Yet, it is the antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects of geranyl acetate that should also be of interest.
Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Behaviors
In a study entitled the “Composition and biological activity of the essential oil from Thapsia minor, a new source of geranyl acetate” it was determined that when the oils were “evaluated against several fungal strains… an antifungal activity could be associated with the significant contribution of the oxygenated monoterpene geranyl acetate.”5
Further explorations showed that the compound, “demonstrated to have potent anti-inflammatory in vitro activity, at concentrations that did not affect macrophages and keratinocytes viability, being the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil mainly due to geranyl acetate.”
The results of the study were the recommendation, by those scientific experts, of the use of the compound by the pharmaceutical industry and as a means of developing new phytopharmaceuticals.
Yet, there are also published studies from the National Institutes of Health, explaining that geranyl acetate demonstrated a high amount of antifungal activity against “C. albicans (MIC 625 µg ml(-1)), A. parasiticus (MIC 312.5 µg ml(-1)), A. sydowii (MIC 312.5 µg ml(-1)), T. rubrum (MIC 625 µg ml(-1)), Gram-positive bacteria B. subtilis (MIC 625 µg ml(-1)) and Gram-negative bacteria P. aeruginosa (MIC 312.5 µg ml(-1)).”6
The first fungus listed, C. albicans, is the cause for the common and difficult infection known as thrush as well as the potentially harmful invasive candidiasis that occurs if the fungus makes its way into the bloodstream. Having an organic and safe agent to fight this strain is incredibly valuable, and a reason that geranyl acetate is being explored for its many benefits.
Recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe ingredient and additive for foods, it is also used widely in that long list of products mentioned earlier.
As a constituent of essential oils like citronella, Petitgrain, lemongrass, neroli, geranium, carrot, sassafrass, coriander and many others, it is commonly blended with everything from balsamic and floral scents as well as woody and “green” aromas.
It helps to note that it occurs naturally in an amazing number of botanicals, and a short list would include allspice, almond seeds, artemisia, basil, bay laurel, bergamot, Cananga, cardamom, carrot seed, cedar leaf oil, celery, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, coffee, coriander and dozens upon dozens more!
Terpenes and Health
As we noted earlier, beyond the readily identified benefits of geranyl acetate are the broader benefits of its terpene properties. Terpenes, as we also learned, have long been used for their many beneficial effects, including improving human health, but also human mental health. Noted for reducing stress and improving mood, they are a great addition to any health regimen.
As is the case with any sort of oil or essential oil used daily, it is important that only the finest oils are used. Depending upon your chosen source for geranyl acetate, you’ll want to be sure the essential oil extraction is done in the best way— such as steam extraction or another method. Long famed for its strength and supportive properties in aromatic formulations, geranyl acetate is also found in MONQ’s sleepy personal essential oil diffuser. Explore this unique and lesser-known terpene to see if it has a good place in your daily or regular essential oil regimen.