Terpene Profile: Neral

Terpene Profile_ Neral

Neral, an isomer of citral, is a clear, yellow liquid with an aroma similar to lemons. It is less dense than water, insoluble in water, and is often used in perfumery for its citrus scent.1 The natural form of citral consists of two isomers: citral a, known as geranial, and citral b, known as neral.2 Though these isomers are structurally similar, differing only in one bond attached to the carbon atom, there are differences in the two compounds.

Because of their delightful citrus scent, both geranial and neral are often used in perfumes, soaps, laundry and dishwashing detergents, but the scent of neral is slightly sweeter and more subtle than that of geranial. Neral is also used very sparingly to add citrus flavors to desserts and soft drinks.

Although it has such a potent lemon-like scent, lemons are actually not the best source of this particular terpene. Neral can be found occurring naturally in lemongrass, lemon myrtle, litsea cubeba, petitgrain, lemon verbena, lemon tea tree, and Melissa. It is also found in smaller concentration in lime, lemon, and orange.

Neral is classified as a monoterpene aldehyde. Aldehydes have an oxygen atom double bonded to a carbon atom, with a hydrogen bond next to it. They are derived from alcohols due to oxidation. As a whole, aldehydes are known for having antiviral, antifungal, sedative and analgesic properties.

Uses for Neral

4 essential oil bottles

Prevents and Treats Infections

A 2010 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine tested the antifungal activities of lemongrass, eucalyptus, and mentha essential oils against Candida albicans.

The results showed that of the three essential oils tested, lemongrass exhibited the strongest antifungal activity. The GC-MS analysis showed that the lemongrass essential oil consisted of 36.2 percent geranial and 26.5 percent neral, and it is believed that the antifungal activity of lemongrass essential oil can be partially attributed to the presence of these two isomers.3

Additionally, a 2016 study tested the antimicrobial activity of citral against Cronobacter sakazakii, a food-borne pathogen. The results showed that citral damaged the cell membrane of C. sakazakii, and could potentially be used to kill pathogens in foods.4

These properties make essential oils high in neral, like lemongrass oil, great for remedying mild fungal infections or for making natural disinfectants for surfaces in the home. 

Reduces Inflammation

In a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, the anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effects of twenty different essential oils were studied in vitro.

Of all the oils tested, lemongrass essential oil displayed the strongest anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effects. The same study was then carried out using citral and geranial separately, and the results showed similar biological effects.5

Because of this, essential oils like litsea cubeba which has a high concentration of neral can be good for relieving digestive upsets such as cramps and spasms and can help reduce muscle pain. To relieve these symptoms, add a few drops of essential oil to a carrier oil like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil and massage gently onto the affected areas.

ocean diffuser


Essential oils containing neral can be wonderful disinfectants, as well as soothing to sore muscles and frazzled minds. Try adding some neral-rich essential oils in your daily routine topically after dilution with a carrier oil or aromatically in a room diffuser or portable aromatherapy diffuser like Sleepy, Ocean, or Zen MONQ to reap the health benefits they provide. 

Classification: Monoterpene aldehyde

Chemical formula for neral: C10H16O

Chemical names: Neral, Cis-Citral, Citral b, (Z)-Citral, Beta-Citral, Citral

Molar mass: 152.237 g/mol

Boiling point: 229° C (444°F; 502.04 K)

Melting point: <-10°C (<50°F; <283.2 K)


By Aaron Williams

Aaron is an freelance writer and avid fan of anything having to do with essential oils. In his spare time he can be found taking care of his 2 cats and exploring the world of virtual reality.

Favorite MONQ blend: Sleepy

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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