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Lemongrass Essential Oil

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General Description

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) pertains to the tall perennial grasses commonly found in warm temperate and tropical regions of the world, particularly in Southeast Asia. It is sometimes referred to as citronella grass, fever grass, and barbed wire grass. Because of its subtle citrus flavor, it comes in no surprise why it always ends up as an herb in Asian cuisine, especially in soups, curries, and dishes with poultry, fish, beef, or seafood as the main ingredient. [1]

Although - true enough - lemongrass is a well-respected name in cuisines, what truly excites the medical profession and the research field are the vast range of pharmacological activities reported to be possessed by lemongrass essential oil. A number of studies have furnished concrete evidence on the different actions of lemongrass essential oil, including anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, antifilarial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding up to the lengthy list are the antimalarial, antimutagenicity, antimycobacterial, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, and neurobehaviorial effects that have been well documented as well for lemongrass essential oil. [2] In Brazilian folk medicine, the leaves of lemongrass are incorporated in teas to serve as an anxiolytic, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant agent. [3]



Lemongrass essential oil is extracted from the aromatic leaves of lemongrass through steam distillation and appears yellow or brownish yellow with a thin consistency and a fresh, earthy, citrusy scent. [4] Lemongrass essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy where it is used to relieve headaches, respiratory problems, physical tension, and muscle pain, to name a few. [5]

Uses and Reported Benefits

One can benefit from the antibacterial property of lemongrass essential oil in the form of facial toners or astringents to get rid of acne and minimize the greasiness of skin. [4] It can also be used as a remedy to headaches, fever, and sore throats; as an insect repellant; and as a bowel movement inducer. [5] Invigorating as it is, lemongrass essential oil can soothe the muscles and nerves, ease pain, and serve as an antidepressant. [4] It can be of aid to individuals with excess sweating such as in the feet and those who need some "emotional lift" during periods of stress or exhaustion. [6]

Contraindications and Safety

Lemongrass essential oil is generally safe for most people when used in food amounts and short-term medical purposes. Pregnant and lactating women however are an exception to this, and this group should never use or take lemongrass essential oil. Lemongrass is purported to stimulate menstrual flow, which might lead to a miscarriage during pregnancy, and not much has been studied as regards the effects of lemongrass on nursing infants. [7] Also, persistent usage of lemongrass essential oil on allergyprone or damaged skin may cause ill effects. [5]

Lemongrass essential oil is to be kept away from children for safety's sake and should be stored in dark amber, blue, or green glass bottles (never use aluminum bottles, as lemongrass essential oil tends to dissolve these). [4]



Scientific Studies and Research

Minami et al. (2003) furnished evidence on the antiviral effect of lemongrass essential oil against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) replication. At a concentration of 0.1%, lemongrass essential oil had been determined to completely inhibit the replication ability of HSV-1. This antiviral activity was considered more superior than those of other essential oils studied at a concentration of 1% at 4"C for 24 hours. [8]

Lemongrass essential oil enjoys some popularity in being an antifungal treatment in aromatherapy, and a number of studies back up such antifungal feat. Abe et al. (2003) produced evidence on the antifungal property of lemongrass essential oil, detailing that at a concentration of 100 μg/mL in the medium, lemongrass oil effectively inhibits the mycelial growth of Candida albicans. Suppressing the mycelial growth of C. albicans is clinically significant since this disables the capacity of the fungus to invade mucosal tissues. Abe et al. (2003) had also determined that at a concentration of 25 and 200 μg/mL, citral, which is the major active constituent of lemongrass essential oil, inhibits the mycelial growth too. [9]

Lemongrass essential oil in broth culture has been determined to be amoebicidal, being effective against Entamoeba histolytica. [10] But it doesn't stop there. Lemongrass essential oil is efficacious not only against amoeba but also against a broad range of bacteria. In the study of Nguefack, Budde, and Jakobsen (2004), it has been shown that lemongrass essential oil exhibits antibacterial action to a significant effect against strains of Listeria monocytogenes, L. innocua, and Staphylococcus aureus. The mechanism of action has been proposed to be through the permeabilization of the cytoplasmic membrane. [11] Lemongrass essential oil shows promising antibacterial activity against Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157, Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium perfringens too. [12] Furthermore, both alpha-citral (geranial) and betacitral (neral) in lemongrass essential oil have been determined to exert deleterious effects against Gramnegative and Gram-positive bacteria. [13] Lemongrass essential oil too has a promising antiparasitic effect, specifically trypanocidal, and the treatment using lemongrass essential oil has been proven to be antiproliferative against trypomastigotes and amastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi. [14]

Blanco et al. (2009) orally administered 0.5 or 1.0 g/kg lemongrass essential oil to Swiss male mice 30 minutes before their experimental procedures. They evaluated the sedative/hypnotic, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant activities of lemongrass essential oils through pentobarbital sleeping time; elevated plus maze and light-dark box procedures; and seizures induced by pentylenetetrazole and maximal electroshock, respectively. In this study, lemongrass essential oil delayed clonic seizures, increased the sleeping time, and increased the percentage of entries and time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze and in the light compartment of light-dark box. The findings from their study were hence positive and provided support to the ethnopharmacological use of lemongrass essential oil as an anxiolytic, sedative, and anticonvulsive agent. Blanco et al. (2009) orally administered 0.5 or 1.0 g/kg lemongrass essential oil to Swiss male mice 30 minutes before their experimental procedures. They evaluated the sedative/hypnotic, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant activities of lemongrass essential oils through pentobarbital sleeping time; elevated plus maze and light-dark box procedures; and seizures induced by pentylenetetrazole and maximal electroshock, respectively. In this study, lemongrass essential oil delayed clonic seizures, increased the sleeping time, and increased the percentage of entries and time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze and in the light compartment of light-dark box. The findings from their study were hence positive and provided support to the ethnopharmacological use of lemongrass essential oil as an anxiolytic, sedative, and anticonvulsive agent. [3]

Lemongrass essential oil possesses as well remarkable antinociceptive activity, presumably acting at peripheral and central levels. In the study of Viana, Vale, Pinho, and Matos (2000), lemongrass essential oil increased the reaction time to thermal stimuli after oral and intraperitoneal administration (hot plate test); significantly inhibited the acetic acid-induced writhings in mice; and inhibited the second phase of the response (formalin test). [15]

Molecular Components and Chemistry

The chief component of lemongrass essential oil is citral, a substance responsible for the long list of biological and pharmacological activities of lemongrass essential oil. An analysis by means of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry indicated that lemongrass essential oil comprises alpha-citral or geranial (36.2%), beta-citral or neral (26.5%), monoterpene hydrocarbons (7.9%), and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (3.8%). [16] Lemongrass also contains phenolic compounds such as elimicin, catechol, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and hydroquinone [17] and flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, and apigenin. [18]

References

[1] Cymbopogon. Wikipedia. Retrieved 27 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbopogon

[2] Shah G., Shri R., Panchal V., Sharma N., Singh B., & Mann A. S. (2011). Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (lemon grass). Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 2(1): 3-8. doi: 10.4103/2231-4040.79796. Retrieved 27 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22171285

[3] Blanco M. M., Costa C. A., Freire A. O., Santos J. G. Jr, & Costa M. (2009). Neurobehavioral effect of essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus in mice. Phytomedicine, 16(2-3): 265-270. Retrieved 27 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17561386

[4] Lemongrass Essential Oil. 10 ml. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. Plant Therapy Essential Oils. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.amazon.com/Lemongrass-EssentialUndiluted-Therapeutic-Grade/dp/B005XQWYXC

[5] Lemongrass Essential Oil 15 ml - Aromatherapy Support for Infections, Headaches, and Respiratory Problems. Biosource Naturals. Retrieved 27 April 2013 from http://www.amazon.com/Lemongrass-Essential-Oil-Aromatherapy-Respiratory/dp/B007UP04WC

[6] 50ml Lemongrass Essential Oil. Naissance. Retrieved 27 April 2013 from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naissance-50ml-Lemongrass-Essential-Oil/dp/B004RGPZJ4

[7] Lemongrass side effects & safety. WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-719-LEMONGRASS.aspx?activeIngredientId=719&activeIngredientName =LEMONGRASS

[8] Minami M. et al. (2003). The inhibitory effect of essential oils on herpes simplex virus type-1 replication in vitro. Microbiology and Immunology, 47(9): 681-684. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14584615

[9] Abe S. et al. (2003). Anti-Candida albicans activity of essential oils including lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates) oil and its component, citral. Nihon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi, 44(4): 285-291. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14615795

[10] De Blasi V., Debrot S., Menoud P. A., Gendre L., & Schowing J. (1990). Amoebicidal effect of essential oils in vitro. Journal de Toxicologie Clinique et Exp"rimentale, 10(6): 361-373. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2130180/

[11] Nguefack J., Budde B. B., & Jakobsen M. (2004). Five essential oils from aromatic plants of Cameroon: their antibacterial activity and ability to permeabilize the cytoplasmic membrane of Listeria innocua examined by flow cytometry. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 39(5): 395-400. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15482428

[12] Wannissorn B., Jarikasem S., Siriwangchai T., & Thubthimthed S. (2005). Antibacterial properties of essential oils from Thai medicinal plants. Fitoterapia, 76(2): 233-236. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15752638

[13] Onawunmi G. O., Yisak W. A., & Ogunlana E. O. (1984). Antibacterial constituents in the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 12(3): 279-286. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6442749/

[14] Santoro G. F., Cardoso M. G., Guimar"es L. G., Freire J. M., & Soares M. J. (2007). Anti-proliferative effect of the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf (lemongrass) on intracellular amastigotes, bloodstream trypomastigotes and culture epimastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi (Protozoa: Kinetoplastida). Parasitology, 134(Pt 11): 1649-1656. Retrieved 28 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17686189

[15] Viana G. S., Vale T. G., Pinho R. S., & Matos F. J. Antinociceptive effect of the essential oil from Cymbopogon citratus in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 70(3): 323-327. Retrieved 28 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10837994/

[16] Tyagi A. K. & Malik A. (2010). Liquid and vapour-phase antifungal activities of selected essential oils against Candida albicans: microscopic observations and chemical characterization of Cymbopogon citratus. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10:65. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-10-65. Retrieved 28 April 2013 from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/10/65

[17] Faruq M. O. (1994). TLC technique in the component characterization and quality determination of Bangladeshi lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf.). Bangladesh Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research, 29: 27-38.

[18] Miean K. H. & Mohamed S. (2001). Flavonoid (myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin, and apigenin) content of edible tropical plants. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(6): 3106-3112. Retrieved 28 April 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410016/

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