Lemongrass Essential Oil (Cymbopogon citratus & flexuosus)
Lemongrass is a fibrous herb with a fragrance similar to lemons that belong to the family Poaceae, which consists of 55 other varieties of grasses, two of which are popularly used. The first, Cymbopogon flexuosus, and is most commonly used for producing essential oils. The second, Cymbopogon citratus, is the lemongrass most often used for culinary purposes.
East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), also called Cochin grass or Malabar grass, is native to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, while West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is native to South Asia and maritime Southeast Asia. While both can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more suitable for cooking. In India, C. citratus is used both as a medical herb and in perfumes.
Cymbopogon is a genus of Asian, African, Australian, and tropical island plants in the grass family. Some species (particularly Cymbopogon citratus) are commonly cultivated as culinary and medicinal herbs because of their scent, resembling that of lemons (Citrus limon). Common names include lemon grass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, cha de Dartigalongue, fever grass, tanglad, hierba Luisa, or gavati chahapati, amongst many others.
Uses for Lemongrass
It is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisines and also as a medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for use with poultry, fish, beef, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African countries such as Togo, south eastern Ghana Volta Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Latin American countries such as Mexico.
Consuming this herb is known to improve circulation, promote digestion, provide relief to fever, stabilize menstrual cycles, increase immunity, treat infections, and act as an insecticide.
Despite its ability to repel some insects, such as mosquitoes, its oil is commonly used as a “lure” to attract honey bees. “Lemongrass works conveniently as well as the pheromone created by the honeybee’s Nasonov gland, also known as attractant pheromones. Because of this, lemongrass oil can be used as a lure when trapping swarms or attempting to draw the attention of hived bees.”
You will find Lemongrass Essential Oil in many of Mother Jai’s Aroma Sprays
Aroma Spray – 8oz Spray
Historically used as a pesticide and preservative, it was put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India to preserve the texts. It is used at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage in Kerala, and many other manuscript collections in India. The oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves, and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.
Lemongrass essential oil contains beneficial terpene components that actively work on different parts of the body to remedy a range of conditions. The main terpene compounds in lemongrass essential oil include citronellal, nerol, limonene, geraniol, geranyl acetate, citral, and myrcene.
- Citral has antiviral, antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
- Citronellal has antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal and sedative properties.
- Geraniol has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptics and analgesic properties.
- Geranyl acetate has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptics and analgesic properties.
- Limonene has digestive, appetite suppressing, detoxifying and antioxidant properties.
- Neral has antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and apoptotic properties.
- Nerol has antioxidant, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Myrcene has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibiotic, and sedative properties.
This amazing essential oil is a source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and vitamin C. It also provides essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.
Beneficial Uses of Lemongrass Essential Oil
The health benefits of lemongrass essential oil can be attributed to its beneficial properties as an analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, deodorant, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicidal, galactagogue, insecticidal, nervine, sedative, and a tonic. Lemongrass is versatile, and its uses range from cooking to cosmetics, to cleaning products, to medicines. Lemongrass essential oil helps to cure cellulite, fungal infections, and digestive problems, while simultaneously reducing excessive perspiration.
Antianxiety: High blood pressure is a common side effect of stress. Many studies have shown that aromatherapy eases stress and anxiety. Combining aromatherapy with massage may bring greater benefits. A 2015 study evaluated the effects of lemongrass and sweet almond massage oil during massage. Study participants who received a massage using the oil once a week for three weeks had lower diastolic blood pressure than those in the control group. Systolic blood pressure and pulse rate weren’t affected.
Antibacterial: is used as a natural remedy to heal wounds and help prevent infection. Research from 2010 found lemongrass essential oil was effective against a variety of drug-resistant bacteria.
Antidiarrheal: Diarrhea is often just a bother, but it can also cause dehydration. Over-the-counter diarrhea remedies can come with unpleasant side effects — like constipation — leading some people to turn to natural remedies. According to a 2006 study, lemongrass may help slow diarrhea. The study showed that the oil reduced fecal output in mice with castor oil-induced diarrhea, possibly by slowing intestinal motility.
Antifungal: Fungi are organisms like yeast and mold. According to an older study from 1996, lemongrass oil was an effective deterrent against four types of fungi. One type causes athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch. Researchers found that, to be effective, at least 2.5 percent of the solution must be lemongrass oil.
Anti-inflammatory: Chronic inflammation is thought to cause many health problems. These include arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. It contains citral, an anti-inflammatory compound. According to a 2014 study on animals, lemongrass essential oil showed powerful anti-inflammatory abilities on mice with carrageenan-induced paw edema. The oil also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically on mice with ear edema.
Antioxidant: Antioxidants help your body fight off free radicals that damage cells. Research has shown that lemongrass essential oil helps hunt free radicals. According to a 2011 study, lemongrass oil mouthwash showed strong antioxidant abilities. Researchers suggest it’s a potential complementary therapy for non-surgical dental procedures and gingivitis.
Antipyretic: fever reducing. This is quite similar to a febrifuge but it is effective on very high fever as well. This oil can bring down fever when it is tending to reach dangerous levels. This property of lemongrass, which comes from its essential oils, is widely known and utilized.
Antiseptic: The antiseptic properties of this oil make it a good application for external and internal wounds as well as a useful ingredient in antiseptic lotions and creams.
Antispasmodic: its ability to help relieve muscle aches, cramps and spasms. It may also help to improve circulation.
Carminative: reducing gas, alleviating flatulence. It not only helps to remove gas from the intestine but also stops further gas formation. Furthermore, it provides the excess gas a safe downward passage by relaxing the muscles in the abdominal region.
Deodorizer: a natural and safe air freshener or deodorizer. You can add the oil to water and use it as a mist or use an oil diffuser or vaporizer. By adding other essential oils, like lavender or tea tree oil, you can customize your own natural fragrance. Cleaning with lemongrass essential oil is another great idea because not only does it naturally deodorize your home, but it also helps to sanitize it.
Digestive: Lemongrass is used as a folk remedy for a number of digestive problems, ranging from stomachaches to gastric ulcers. According to a 2012 study on mice, lemongrass essential oil helped prevent gastric ulcers, a common cause of stomach pain. Lemongrass is also a common ingredient in herbal teas and supplements for nausea. Although most herbal products use dried lemongrass leaves, using the essential oil for aromatherapy may provide similar benefits.
Diuretic: increases the frequency of urination. When a person urinates, fats are lost from the body, because 4% of the volume of urine is composed of them. Obviously, the more you urinate, the more you lose fat. Urination also promotes digestion and inhibits the formation of excess gas. It removes excess water from the body and reduces swelling. The most important contribution of this oil is that it removes toxins from the body, not to mention its ability to reduce blood pressure. That is the reason why most pharmaceutical medications for lowering blood pressure induce frequent urination. Urination also helps clean the kidneys.
Galactagogue: increases the formation of milk in the breasts. It also enhances the quality of the milk. This property is very helpful for lactating mothers and babies who need this vital source of food. Babies are prone to infections, so the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of lemongrass oil are also absorbed in the milk, thus indirectly helping the baby avoid such infections.
Glucose Regulation: may help reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a 2007 study on rats. For the study, the rats were treated with a daily oral dose of 125 to 500 milligrams (mg) of lemongrass oil for 42 days. Results showed lemongrass oil lowered blood sugar levels. It also changed lipid parameters while increasing so-called good cholesterol levels (HDL).
Hair Care: can strengthen your hair follicles, so if you are struggling with hair loss or an itchy and irritated scalp, massage a few drops of lemongrass oil into your scalp for two minutes and then rinse. The soothing and bacteria-killing properties will leave your hair shiny, fresh and odor-free.
Immunostimulant: stimulating the function of the immune system. It can help to boost your immune system with its antimicrobial and therapeutic properties. In vitro research has also shown that the oil can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, which can contribute to illness.
Pain Relief: The citral in lemongrass essential oil may help ease pain as it relieves inflammation. According to a 2017 study on people with rheumatoid arthritis, topical lemongrass oil decreased their arthritis pain. On average, pain levels were gradually reduced from 80 to 50 percent within 30 days.
According to researchers in Australia, native Australian lemongrass may relieve pain caused by headaches and migraines. The researchers believe that a compound in lemongrass called eugenol has similar abilities to aspirin. Eugenol is thought to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. It also releases serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and cognitive functions.
Sedative: It has great soothing, sedating and calming effects on the mind, cures inflammations, itching of skin and it relieves tension and anxiety. This feature can help patients with insomnia as well.
Skin Care: Add this oil to shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, soaps and lotions. It is an effective cleanser for all skin types; its antiseptic and astringent properties make lemongrass oil perfect for getting even and glowing skin, and thus part of your natural skin care routine. It can sterilize your pores, serve as a natural toner and strengthen your skin tissues. By rubbing this oil into your hair, scalp and body, you can alleviate headaches or muscle pain.
Tonic: It tones all the systems functioning in the body, such as the respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, and excretory system, and facilitates absorption of nutrients into the body, thus providing strength and boosting the immune system.
Triglyceridemia: reduction of triglycerides (cholesterol) in the blood stream. Statin drugs have this action on the circulatory system. High cholesterol may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s important to keep your cholesterol levels stable. Lemongrass is traditionally used to treat high cholesterol and manage heart disease. A 2007 study helps support its use for those conditions. The study found lemongrass oil significantly reduced cholesterol in rats who had been fed a high cholesterol diet for 14 days. The positive reaction was dose-dependent, which means that its effects changed when the dose was changed.
How to Use Lemongrass Essential Oil
- To use lemongrass in aromatherapy, add up to 12 drops of essential oil (depending on your sense of smell) to 1 teaspoon carrier oil such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil. Mix into a warm bath or massage into your skin. Never apply essential oils directly to your skin.
- You can also inhale lemongrass oil directly. Add a few drops to a cotton ball or handkerchief and breathe in the aroma. Some people massage the diluted essential oil into their temples to help relieve headaches.
- Lemongrass Essential Oil can be helpful when carefully used in very-very low dilution by those that are challenged with acne-prone skin.
- For Mind and Spirit, Robbie Zeck shares this about Lemongrass Essential Oil: “The intense, radiant energy of Lemongrass inspires expansion on all levels. Whenever there is a sense of restriction or limitation in life, Lemongrass lifts the spirits and gets things moving again.” [Robbi Zeck, ND, The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation (Victoria, Australia: Aroma Tours, 2008), 92.]
Possible Side Effects and Risks
Although cold pressed Lemon Essential Oil is phototoxic, steam distilled Lemongrass Essential Oil is not phototoxic. However, Lemongrass Essential Oil is abundant in citral (geranial and neral). It can pose a significant risk of skin sensitization when used over 0.7% in topical applications. A little goes a very long way in topical formulations.
Lemongrass essential oil is highly concentrated. Its side effects aren’t well-studied. In some people, they may be stronger than the side effects of the lemongrass plant.
Lemongrass may cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation when used topically.
Other reported side effects of oral lemongrass include:
- increased appetite
- increased urination
Essential oils may be toxic when ingested. You should NEVER ingest lemongrass essential oil.
Lemongrass, in its plant-form, is generally safe to use in food and beverages. Higher amounts may increase your risk of developing side effects. You should also talk to your doctor before use if you:
- have diabetes or low blood sugar
- have a respiratory condition, such as asthma
- have liver disease
- are undergoing chemotherapy
- are pregnant
- are breastfeeding
You shouldn’t use lemongrass as a complementary therapy or in place of your regular treatment for any condition unless under your doctor’s supervision.