Lemongrass Oil - Benefits, Properties, Composition & Characteristics
 

Lemongrass oil is extracted from the plants of the either of the species – Cymbopogon flexuosus or Cymbopogon citratus or Cymbopogon pendulus – in the Cymbopogon (lemongrass) genus family. All of these species are native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Lemongrass Oil Profile

Synonyms

  1. Cymbopogon flexuosus is also known as East India lemongrass, Malabar grass, Cochin grass, native lemongrass, British India lemongrass, Fever grass, Herbe de malabar (Fr), vervaine Indienne’ or France Indian verbena.
  2. Cymbopogon citratus is also known as West Indies lemongrass, Madagascar lemongrass, Guatemala lemongrass, Verveine des Indes, Herbe citron (Fr), Zitronengras (Ge), Erba di limone (It), Serai dapur (Indonesian, Malay).
  3. Cymbopogon pendulus is also known as Jammu lemongrass.

Lemongrass Plant

Lemongrass is an aromatic perennial grass which may grow up to 5-6 feet. It grows rapidly and produces a network of roots and rootlets that rapidly depletes the soil.    

Cymbopogon flexuosus is native to east India and is found across India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Cymbopogon citratus is probably native to Sri Lanka and is found across India, Philippines, Indonesia, West Indies and Africa.

Lemongrass has been used since centuries in Ayurveda – traditional Indian medicinal system – to treat infection, fever and inflammation. It was used to relieve muscle cramps, aches and pains and to lower blood pressure, relieve involuntary contractions like epilepsy, prevent vomiting, prevent and relieve cough, relieve rheumatic pain and inhibit and prevent infection. It is also a treatment for nervous and gastrointestinal disorders and fevers.

Extraction of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass essential oil is extracted from steam distillation of finely chopped fresh or partly dried lemongrass. The best season for harvesting of lemongrass for extraction of oil is from May to October. Around 40-90 KG of grass yield 1 KG of oil.

Characteristics of Lemongrass Oil

NameLemongrass Oil
Botanical NameCymbopogon nardus / Cymbopogon winterianus / Cymbopogon pendulus
FamilyPoaceae (Gramineae)
GenusCymbopogon
ColourPale Yellow to Vivid Yellow
AromaFresh, Lemony, Earthy (grassy-green fragrance with mild lemony top notes)
NoteTop (A top note of medium intensity and poor persistence)

Lemongrass oil is a yellow-amber in color. It has a middle-to-top-note and its aroma is sweet, lemony, and cool. East Indian lemongrass oil has lighter aroma than West Indian lemongrass oil.

Composition of Lemongrass Oil

Following are the ISO reference for the major constituents of the lemongrass oil.

ComponentMinimum (%)Maximum (%)
Limonene0.53.5
6-Methyl-5-heptene-2-one0.12.0
Caryophyllene0.23.5
Neral25.035.0
Geranial35.047.0
Geranyl acetate0.56.0
Geraniol1.58.0

Lemongrass like other essential oils is made up of hundreds of compounds. However, citral – geranial and neral – constituents a majority (60%-82%).

Usually lemongrass oil is adulterated with synthetic citral and geranyl acetate and 6-methyl-5-heptene-2-one.

Blending of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil blends well with Lemon, Eucalyptus, May Chang, Petitgrain, Marjoram, Cajeput, Atlas Cedar wood, Basil, Peppermint, Helichrysum, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Lavender, Patchouli, Juniper berry, Clove, Geranium and Tea tree oils.

Properties of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass is found to have analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicidal, insecticidal, nervine and sedative properties.

Most of these properties are attributed to monoterpenoid aldehydes in the lemongrass oil, while the relaxant and analgesic effects most likely arise from its content in alcohols.

Lemongrass oil has regulating properties that help in stabilizing and promoting balance and harmony, especially the mood and emotions. Its regulating properties can be used to balance excess oily skin, hair and scalp conditions like seborrhea, dandruff and acne.

Sedative properties of lemongrass oil are helpful in calming and soothing mind and get relief from chronic mental states of anxiety, fear, worry and depression.  

Lemongrass oil’s powerful vasodilating (expansive), anti-inflammatory and sedative properties may be helpful for relieving muscle spasm as well as promoting regeneration and healing of soft tissue.

Lemongrass oil is effective natural alternative for acute infections such as food poisoning and dysentery due to its antibacterial, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties.

When absorbed internally, the essential oil is actually an important cooling, relaxing oil in general. 

Lemongrass is relaxant to both smooth and striated muscles and hence is used in a variety of conditions involving spasm, pain and inflammation.

Lemongrass is an important aldehyde-based aromatic that shines with a very broad antifungal effect used for both internal and topical fungal infections.

While the effects are similar for oils from Cymbopogon flexuosus and Cymbopogon citratus. Oil from Cymbopogon citratus is gentler in action and recommended for medicinal and culinary uses, while oil from Cymbopogon flexuosus is more of an industrial perfumer’s oil.

Lemongrass Oil - Infographics

Usages of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is widely used in perfumery, cosmetics, personal care, insect deterrent, pesticides, flavoring and preservative products. It is used in powerful room sprays, insect repellents sprays, soaps and mild detergents. It is also a popular oil in aromatherapy.

  • Its strong antiseptic and antifungal properties make lemongrass oil useful for treating fungal infections.
  • A natural insect repellent, lemongrass oil provides powerful protection from mosquitoes and insects and may be useful for preventing and eliminating fleas and ticks for your dogs.
  • Lemongrass oil is widely used for the isolation of citral, an important perfumery compound. It is also used for adulteration of more costly oils such as verbena or melissa.
  • Extensively used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and perfumes.
  • Used as a flavor ingredient in most major food categories including alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Lemongrass can help relieve muscle, tendon, and ligament pain from injury. If the injuries are inflamed and hot, lemongrass can be used to cool the area down.

Aromatherapy

The scent of lemongrass is pleasant, fresh and lemony with an herbal note. Its effect is uplifting and refreshing to the mind, body and emotions. Diffusing lemongrass is very helpful to energize you if you’re feeling fatigued and lethargic.

How to Use Lemongrass Oil

  • Dispense 1 to 3 drops of lemongrass oil on a cotton ball or smell strip and inhale.
  • Use in a diffuser by putting 2–3 drops in water.
  • Use 2–3% dilution in lotion or vegetable oil for massage.

Safety with Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is considered to be non-toxic.

  • Lemongrass oil may be a skin irritant due to high citral content. Dilute with a carrier oil before each use. Do NOT use on sensitive or damaged skin.
  • Do NOT use on children under the age of two. May be an irritant to skin and mucous membranes.

Consult your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or being treated for other health challenges.

References

KG Stiles. “The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide.”

Kymberly Keniston-Pond. “Essential Oils 101.”

Konstantine, Ramit. “Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Healing With Natural Herbal Remedies, Alternative Therapies, and Using Essential Oils For Beauty, Essential Oils For Stress and Weight Loss.”

Jean Valnet. “The Practice of Aromatherapy.”

 
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