Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a member of the grass family, as the name implies, and is composed of about 55 different species, including citronella. Lemongrass is found in tropical climates such as Africa, Oceania, Southeast Asia, South and Central America, and India. The name cymbopogon is Greek in origin, and is a combination of the words “kymbe” meaning boat, and “pogon” meaning beard. The combined word refers to the flower spike formation commonly associated with the plant.9
Valued for its citrus flavor, lemongrass is used in teas in South America and Africa, and as a culinary herb in a wide range of foods, particularly in Southeast Asia.9
Lemongrass essential oil is manufactured through a process of steam distillation. The main active component of lemongrass essential oil is citral.1 Medical researchers are now demonstrating that lemongrass oil may be used as a natural antibiotic.2
Commercially, lemongrass essential oil is used in perfumes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and as a compound in insect repellant.
Lemongrass Essential Oil Uses
The scent and flavor of lemongrass essential oil makes it useful around the home, as a beauty treatment, and as a natural remedy for a number of health conditions. Here are some of the most popular uses for lemongrass essential oil.
Natural Air Freshener
To keep your bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom smelling fresh, add six drops of lemongrass essential oil to ¼ cup of baking soda in a jar. Cover of mouth of the jar with a piece of cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Lemongrass essential oil has a calming effect and is commonly used in spas to create a relaxing atmosphere. Adding eight to ten drops of lemongrass essential oil to your diffuser will impart a fresh clean scent to your home.
Lemongrass essential oil can be made into a massage oil by adding six drops of the oil to one ounce of a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil. Massage into your muscles to relieve tension and stress.
Tick and Flea Repellant
Lemongrass essential oil has been noted as a natural tick and flea repellant.3 Add a few drops to your dog’s collar or bandana to possibly avoid the costly flea and tick treatments at the vet.
Note: Do not use on cats as they may lick their fur and ingest the oil.
Mosquito and Cockroach Repellant
Lemongrass essential oil works equally as well on mosquitos and cockroaches, as it does on fleas and ticks.4 Adding a drop or two on the hem of your sleeve or pants will help to naturally repel ticks and mosquitos.
Lemongrass essential oil has also been observed to naturally repel cockroaches.5 Place a few drops of lemongrass essential oil on a cotton ball and place in the warm, dark places where cockroaches like to hide.
Topical Pain Relief
Researchers have recognized lemongrass essential oil to have natural anti-inflammatory properties.6 For topical pain relief, add two drops of lemongrass essential oil to one Tsp. of a carrier oil, such as jojoba or almond oil, and apply to the affected area of skin.
Natural Athlete’s Foot Remedy
The anti-fungal effect of lemongrass essential oil may help to combat athlete’s foot.7 Add a drop of lemongrass essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil and apply to the affected areas on the feet three times a day. At night, apply the oil again to the feet and then put on a pair of socks and wear until morning.
For a refreshing facial steam, add a few drops of lemongrass essential oil to a sink or bowl of hot water. Place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl to retain the steam. Finish your treatment by rinsing your face with warm water and applying a moisturizer.
For a cleansing facial mask, mix one Tsp. of almond oil, three drops of lemongrass essential oil, and three Tbsp. of bentonite clay. Add water until the mixture is the consistency of toothpaste. Using your hands in a circular motion, apply to the face and wait 15 minutes for the mask to dry. Remove the mask by rinsing with warm water, pat dry, and apply a moisturizer.
Benefits of Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil continues to be a focus of scientists who are searching for alternatives to multi-drug-resistant antibiotics and new ways to combat diseases carried by insects. Below are some of the most promising science-based benefits of lemongrass essential oil.
Natural Athlete’s Foot Remedy
Research has confirmed that lemongrass essential oil is safe to use on the skin and is effective against athlete’s foot.7 Candida albicans is a fungus that is responsible for a variety of yeast infections such as oral thrush and vaginitis. In its vapor form, lemongrass essential oil inhibits the growth of Candida albicans.8
In a laboratory test, lemongrass essential oil vapor was able to kill 100% of a sample of Candida albicans within a four-hour period.8 This data suggests that lemongrass essential oil could be an effective component of a natural Candida albicans regime.
Ticks are a public health hazard as they are responsible for carrying diseases that infect humans and animals. Two recent studies revealed that lemongrass essential oil was effective in killing ticks at the egg, larval, and adult stages.3,4
Strains of multi-drug-resistant microbes and bacteria are a global epidemic in hospitals. Medical researchers are on the hunt for alternative antimicrobial and antibacterial agents to treat infections caused by these new drug-resistant strains. A recent study has shown that lemongrass essential oil effectively inhibited and killed the multi-drug-resistant microbe Acinetobacter baumannii that has been infesting in hospitals throughout the world.2
Dust Mites and Cockroach Repellant
Dust mites and cockroaches are a health concern in the home as both are known to aggravate allergies. In addition to allergies, house dust mites have been associated with sudden infant death syndrome.10 One study indicated that lemongrass essential oil was more effective than neem oil (a naturally-occurring pesticide) in controlling two species of house dust mites, and had a 91% mortality rate after 24 hours.11
Cockroaches are a well-known trigger for asthma attacks in children.12 Research has proven that lemongrass essential oil can rid urban areas of this pest.5 In one experiment with cockroach-infested homes, researchers were able to trap an average of 43 cockroaches in one visit. Lemongrass essential oil was then used in the homes. The researchers returned one month later to the same homes and were only able to trap an average of 3 cockroaches. After 12 months, no cockroaches were detected.12
Side Effects of Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is generally safe and well-tolerated for adults and older children when inhaled or diluted with carrier oil and applied to the skin in small amounts. Always read and follow the product label and do not exceed the recommended dose. Lemongrass essential oil and vapour are quite flammable and should not be used near a flame.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and may be toxic or harmful if ingested. Never consume lemongrass essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
There is little information on the use of lemongrass essential oil while pregnant or breast-feeding so these women should consult a health care professional before use.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- De Bona da Silva, C., Guterres. S. S., Weisheimer, V., & Schapoval, E. E. S. (2008). Antifungal Activity of the Lemongrass Oil and Citral Against Candida spp. The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 12(1), 63-66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-86702008000100014
- Adukwu, E. C., Bowles, M., Edwards-Jones, V., & Bone, H. (2016). Antimicrobial activity, cytotoxicity and chemical analysis of lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and pure citral. Applied Microbiology Biotechnology, 100, 9619–9627. doi 10.1007/s00253-016-7807-y
- Clemente, A. M., de Oliveira Monteiro, M., Scoralik, M. G., Gomes, F. T., de Azevedo Prata, M. C., & Daemon, E. (2010). Acaricidal activity of the essential oils from Eucalyptus citriodora and Cymbopogon nardus on larvae of Amblyomma cajennense (Acari: Ixodidae) and Anocentor nitens (Acari: Ixodidae). Parasitology Research, 107, 987–992. doi 10.1007/s00436-010-1965-0
- Singh, N. K., Jyoti, V. B., Vemu, B., Nandi, A., Singh, H., Kuman, R., & Dumka, V. K. (2014). Acaricidal activity of Cymbopogon winterianus, Vitex negundo and Withania somnifera against synthetic pyrethroid resistant Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus. Parasitology Research, 113(1), 341–350. doi: 10.1007/s00436-013-3660-4
- Mekonnen, M., Abate, S. & Manhile, B. (2015). Adaptation of citronella grass oil (Cymbopogon winterianus jowitt) technologicas as an alternative method for cockroaches (Blattella germanica l.) repellent. International Journal of Innovative Agriculture & Biology Research 3(1):29-33. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276276342_ADAPTATION_OF_CITRONELLA_GRASS_OIL_CYMBOPOGON_WINTERIANUS_JOWITT_TECNOLOGIES_AS_AN_ALTERNATIVE_METHOD_FOR_COCKROACHES_BLATTELLA_GERMANICA_L_REPELLANT – View reference
- Francisco, V., Figueirinha, A., Neves, B. M., García-Rodríguez, C., Lopes, M-C., Cruz, M-T., & Batista, M-T. (2011). Cymbopogon citratus as source of new and safe anti-inflammatory drugs: Bio-guided assay using lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(2), 818–827. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.018
- Dias, N., Dias, M. C., Cavaleiro, C., Sousa, M. C., Lima, N., & Machado, M. (2016). Oxygenated monoterpenes-rich volatile oils as potential antifungal agents for dermatophytes. Natural Product Research, 31(4), 460 – 464. doi:10.1080/14786419.2016.1195379
- 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
- Shah, G., Shri, R., Panchal, V., Sharma, N., Singh, B., & Mann, A. (2011). Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass). Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 2(1), 3. doi:10.4103/2231-4040.79796
- Heimerdinger, A., Olive, C. J., Molento, M. B., Agnolin, C. A., Ziech, M. F. ,Scaravelli, L. F., et al. (2006). Alcoholic extract of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) on the control of Boophilus microplus in cattle. Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Parasitology, 15, 37-39. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7134347
- Hanifah, A. L., Awang, S. H., Ming, H. T., Abidin, S. Z., & Omar, M. H. (2011). Acaricidal activity of Cymbopogon citratus and Azadirachta indica against house dust mites. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 1(5), 365-369. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60081-6
- Rabito, F. A., Carlson, J. C., He, H., Werthmann, D., Schal, C. (2017). A single intervention for cockroach control reduces cockroach exposure and asthma morbidity in children. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2016.10.019