Lemongrass Essential Oil: Benefits and Uses

At first glance, lemongrass seems like any other tropical grass. Upon closer inspection-lemongrass is medicine in every blade. The use of lemongrass as medicine spans hundreds of years and numerous countries. While it has been around in folk medicine for centuries, medical science is just catching up. Mostly due to its pure essential oil, lemongrass is providing western medicine with age old cures to many modern problems.

Lemongrass History

Common to Africa, Asia, Australia, and many tropical islands, various types of lemongrass are found nearly everywhere in the world. Lemongrass has a long history of use in food, medicine and fragrance. The grassy stalks and bulbs are added to many recipes in Thailand, Vietnam, and India. The stalks are also dried and ground for easier use.

Lemongrass has also found its way into many facets of the cosmetics industry. The refreshing lemon- rose scent of lemongrass pairs perfectly with bergamot. In fact, the two make the base for many famous perfumes on the market. Anytime you smell a fresh perfume with mildly citrus overtones, you can be sure the pleasant team of lemongrass and bergamot is going to work on your nose.

Health Benefits of Lemongrass

The grass itself is used medicinally around the world. In Sri Lanka, the leaves are brewed into a tea that treats fevers. Lemongrass tea is used to help treat diarrhea, irregular menstruation, and to flush the kidneys. The tea is also a popular drink to relieve gas, and is said to increase lactation in breastfeeding mothers. Lemongrass is also commonly cooked in oil and then rubbed on the skin to treat ringworm.

Lemongrass Essential Oil

One of the greatest ways to utilize the medicinal benefits of this tall grass is through extracting its essential oil. Drying the entire plant and then putting it through a steam distillation process produces the pure lemongrass essential oil. Lemongrass essential oil is really making waves in the science world. It may not be as common as its scent-sister lemon essential oil – but it should be. The composition of lemongrass essential oil makes it a powerful tool for any cabinet.

Composition

Lemongrass essential oil is composed of mainly terpenes, alcohols, flavonoids, and phenols. As there are over 50 types of lemongrass in the Cymbopogon genus, the level of each of the constituents can vary from leaf to leaf. Each of these beneficial compounds affects the body in a different way, and is responsible for a great number of the benefits of lemongrass essential oil.

  • Myrcene. Myrcene has an analgesic effect, and also suppresses muscle spasms. It is antibiotic, and has a synergistic effect with other antibiotic compounds, increasing their effectiveness. Myrcene is an anti-inflammatory, and fights cancer cells. Myrcene also has a tranquilizing effect on the brain, and may help improve insomnia.
  • Citronellal. A terpene alcohol found in varying degrees in oils like lemongrass and citronella essential oil, citronellal provides a pungent smell. Medically, the compound is sedative, antiviral and antimicrobial, and is gentler on the skin than phenols with the same qualities.
  • Geranyl Acetate. Geranyl Acetate is a monoterpene found in varying amounts in over 60 essential oils. It is commonly used in flavorings, perfumes, soaps and lotions. It accounts for a large percent of the fresh smell of lemongrass essential oil.
  • Nerol. The compound is typically found in neroli essential oil, hence the name. it has a calming effect on the body, and can soothe nerves and anxiety.
  • Geraniol. Responsible for the anti-oxidative effects of many essential oils, geraniol is also a powerful mosquito repellant. The compound is used widely in cosmetics.
  • Limonene. Limonene is an amazing terpene found in many citrus essential oils. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, and can help metabolic issues. Weight gain, poor digestion, and anxiety can all be helped by limonene.
  • Citral. A potent anti-cancer compound that gives citrus oils their distinctive sharp scent; citral is a type of aldehyde found in lemongrass essential oil. It contributes to the distinct lemon smell of the herb.
  • Linalool. Linalool is a terpene found in a few essential oils. Often used in aromatherapy to aid in sleep and relaxation, linalool is a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It is also beneficial for the production of Vitamin E.

For the Body

When vaporized and inhaled, the compounds in lemongrass essential oil enter the bloodstream, where they can be used to benefit the body in numerous ways. Below are the most studied benefits of pure lemongrass essential oil and its compounds.

Antioxidant

Free radicals. Even if you are unsure what they are, you know they are bad. Free radicals are essentially very reactive cells that seek out other cells to latch onto. This “latching on” can damage the cells, and lead to aging, illness, inflammation- you name it. This is why antioxidants are so important in the diet. Antioxidants have an extra electron, which acts like a magnet to free radicals, they can’t help but latch on, and are then eliminated from the body.

One potent antioxidant, Lemongrass essential oil fights free radicals. Compounds in the oil were recently tested against many known free radical producers and found to be effective at eliminating them.

Anti-inflammatory

Lemongrass essential oil has always been revered as an anti-inflammatory. One recent study is showing exactly why. Lemongrass essential oil can treat edema. Edema is a type of swelling caused by excess fluid buildup in your body’s tissues. It is most commonly found in the hands and feet, though it can happen anywhere. Edema is commonly treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). As long term use of NSAIDs can lead to long term side effects, natural anti-inflammatory compounds are always in high demand.

A recent study pitted lemongrass essential oil against subjects who had edema of the ear. Researchers found lemongrass essential oil treats edema symptoms significantly. Lemongrass essential oil, diluted in carrier oil, can be applied topically to the affected area.

Anti-cancer

A recent study found that lemongrass essential oil inhibits tumor growth. This is big news for people looking for natural alternatives to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Researchers tested the tumor reducing ability of lemongrass essential oil on various common human cancers. The oil reduced cell growth in tumors and the researchers concluded “the oil has promising anti-cancer activity”.

Other studies have further advanced this research. One such study found lemongrass essential oil fights leukemia cells. Both the essential oil and an extract of the oil were found effective at increasing the death of certain cancer cells. Researchers said the essential oil would be highly useful in the development of anti-cancer therapeutics.

In the Brain

There is little chance that lemongrass essential oil will go through your hard skull. But it can be inhaled! By vaporizing lemongrass essential oil in an aromatherapy diffusor, you can take advantage of the oils sedative effects.

Reduces Stress

You don’t have to be running a fortune-500 company to suffer from stress. In modern society, stress is part of our daily lives. Anything which can reduce that stress is a welcome remedy! For those searching for a natural option, try lemongrass essential oil. Thanks to compounds like linalool, lemongrass essential oil reduces stress. Researchers focused on the physical parameters of stress. They found that linalool significantly reduces stress signals, such as high heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels when compared to a control group.

Reduce Anxiety

Lemongrass has been made into sedative tea for centuries. Though the calming effects of lemongrass have been known by natives for hundreds of years, medical science is just catching on to it.

One recent study focused on the ability of lemongrass essential oil to reduce anxiety. Researchers exposed test subjects to different situations designed to make them anxious, and gauged the reaction. Subjects who were exposed to lemongrass essential oil showed a marked decrease in anxiety levels when compared to the control group. Paired with other anxiety reducing essential oils, the effect is multiplied.

Antidepressant

Depression affects many people worldwide, and is usually treated with psychiatric drugs. These drugs can take their toll on the body, and come with numerous unwanted side effects. Because of this, many people are turning to natural cures for symptoms of depression. One study compared the use of lemongrass essential oil to a chemical antidepressant drug. The results were promising. Researchers noted lemongrass essential oil is an effective antidepressant, with results comparable to the drug imipramine.

Sedative

Two active compounds in lemongrass essential oil were recently tested to find out their effect as sedatives. Researchers found citral and myrcene have sedative effects in test subjects. From increasing how long you sleep, to making sleep come more quickly and naturally, diffusing lemongrass essential oil before bedtime can be a great cure for the occasional case of restlessness.

On the Skin

By diluting lemongrass essential oil well in carrier oil, you can apply it topically to get many of the same effects of inhalation. In addition, using lemongrass essential oil on the skin may be a more direct route to cure what ails you.

Anti-bacterial

A recent study aimed to find out how effective lemongrass essential oil would be against many problematic bacteria, such a Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. Researchers found that indeed lemongrass essential oil is antibacterial – and very much so. The oil had a significant effect on many of the common problematic bacteria around today.

Analgesic

Lemongrass essential oil is often used as an analgesic, reducing the pain of muscle spasms, strains and sprains. People looking for natural remedies to rheumatism and arthritis pain may find lemongrass essential oil to be the natural pain relief they need!

Medical studies are validating the use of lemongrass essential oil for pain relief. One study found lemongrass is a natural analgesic. Researchers identified myrcene as the main analgesic compound in the oil, and concluded that the compound could be developed into asprin like drugs. The pain reducing myrcene did not cause tolerance after repeated use like some chemical medicines either. This makes lemongrass essential oil a beneficial natural pain killer.

Antifungal

No one like an unwelcome fungus. Whether in the form of athlete’s foot, ringworm, or yeast infections, fungal infections are no fun. Luckily, lemongrass essential oil may help soothe your pain. Most fungal infections of the skin are caused by Candida, a species of yeast. The standard treatment of fungal infections is limited, as drugs on the market are expensive and usually a prolonged treatment is necessary. Because of this, medical research often turns to natures remedies for fungal infections.

Recently, researchers found that lemongrass essential oil is fungicidal. The oil was tested against the Candida species, and was found to be effective at inhibiting the growth and actually reversing the fungal infections caused by them.

Antimicrobial

Recent studies are bringing to light the potent antimicrobial properties of Lemongrass essential oil. Medical science may soon turn to the oil to kill the drug resistant bacteria found in hospitals. Researchers found lemongrass essential oil to be a potent antimicrobial. Lemongrass essential oil significantly inhibited bacterial growth of 3 common drug resistant bacteria.

Skin Inflammation

Various skin conditions cause inflammation, redness, and itching. Lemongrass essential oil treats skin inflammation caused by conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. Though other studies have shown the anti-inflammatory benefit of the oil, this study focused particularly on inflammation of the skin. Researchers found the oil significantly decreased inflammation due to skin conditions. Coupled with the analgesic effect of the oil, irritation from eczema and psoriasis can be virtually eliminated.

Other Uses

Insecticidal

The antimicrobial benefits of lemongrass essential oil also make it a valuable insecticidal compound. Researchers recently found the oil to have the ability to limit the growth of the bacteria and fungi that cause food rot. The same compounds are responsible for the insecticidal benefit of the oil

Bug Repellant

The various antimicrobial and insecticidal compounds add up to a great bug repellant! Add a few drops of the oil to pure water and mix well, then spray around the house.

Astringent

Lemongrass essential oil also makes a great astringent in small doses. It is often mixed into toners in the beauty industry to help tighten the skin and close the pores.

Deodorant

Looking for a long lasting and natural deodorant? Look no further than lemongrass essential oil. The scent of lemongrass essential oil is long lasting, and the antibacterial effects of the oil make it a perfect addition to natural deodorants.

Lemongrass Essential Oil Recipes

Mood booster

Anti-inflammatory rub:

  • 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops cardamom essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1oz coconut oil
  • Add ingredients together and mix well. Rub on inflamed muscles and painful joins to experience the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Natural Deodorant:

Final Thoughts

Pure essential oils such as lemongrass oil are powerful, and should be used with care. The pure oil should always be diluted; pay attention to any reactions your body may have to it when applied on the skin. Children and pregnant women should use any essential oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.

The most important thing to consider when purchasing your lemongrass essential oil is the purity of the product. Always look for pure essential oils. Pure oils are not only the most beneficial – they are the safest.

We have only listed a few of the recipes you can make using lemongrass essential oil. With so many benefits, there are so many uses for the oil! What is your favorite lemongrass oil recipe? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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