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Lemongrass oil: the aromatherapy and health properties of lemongrass essential oil

Updated on August 15, 2009


Categorised by its botanical name andropogon citratum within the cymbopogon genus, lemongrass is a soothing and relaxing essential oil with many uses and benefits.

Cymbopogon translates from Greek to mean “boat” and “beard,” which describes this plant's boat-shaped leaves that collectively look similar to the shape of a beard.

Historical studies of lemongrass have found that cymbopogon genus consists of around 55 different species, which are almost entirely native to the southern regions of Asia and Australia.

This article looks at the aromatherapy properties and health benefits of lemongrass oil, and tells you a bit about how it works, and how it is used. It also considers historical and folk medicine uses for lemongrass essential oil.

Prepared lemongrass. This image is in the public domain.
Prepared lemongrass. This image is in the public domain.
Stalks of Thai lemongrass
Stalks of Thai lemongrass

Historical Use of Lemongrass Essential Oil

Both in modern and historical times, lemongrass oil has been used in teas, perfumes, deodorants, and aromatherapy.

Studies show that Cuban  folk medicine uses lemongrass for treating hypertension and inflammation.

Additionally, Brazilian folk medicinal practices included lemongrass in a tea to bring about sleepiness or sedative effects. This tea was commonly also used for the treatment of fevers and gastrointestinal complaints.

Furthermore, additional research has found that emongrass was once used in traditional Indian medicine practices, curing illnesses, infections, and fevers.

Lemongrass Oil Health Benefits

Offering a variety of positive benefits, lemongrass essential oil has been known to treat common ailments, such as:

  • Insect repellent

  • Deodorant

  • Athlete's foot

  • Toning and enhancement of tissues

  • Headaches

  • Reduction of muscle pain and aches

  • Reduced signs of exhaustion, anxiety, tension, and / or stress

  • Helps alleviate fatigue with its ability to increase circulation

  • Reduced pain associated with respiratory problems and / or sore throat / laryngitis

  • Prevention of ticks / lice in pets

  • Alleviates excessive perspiration

A recent study also showed that the active ingredients in lemongrass appear to target malignant cancer cells in a laboratory setting.

A lemongrass plant growing in a pot.
A lemongrass plant growing in a pot.

Lemongrass Oil and Aromatherapy

Lemongrass essential oil is a useful one for aromatherapists, and as an ingredient in aromatherapy products. As lemongrass oil has a calming aroma that smells like a mixture of lemon and rose, studies show that lemongrass can be an effective tool for reducing stress-related symptoms.

In aromatherapy massage, therefore, lemongrass oil is often used in an aromatherapy mixture designed to relieve stress and calm the nerves. Aromatherapy products frequently blend lemongrass with lavender, jasmine, and geranium essential oils, among others.

Specifically, a recent study in India has found that lemongrass may help stimulate a sedative response in the central nervous system; as a result, the body's overall feelings of tension, anxiety, and chaos can be soothed and relieved.

With its rejuvenating powers, many individuals use lemongrass oil to reduce problems associated with jet-lag, concentration, headaches, and other fatigue-related symptoms.

Additionally, lemongrass essential oil is often used as a general body tonic through its ability to stimulate the body's glandular responses; this benefit allows the body to recover from illnesses and feel invigorated with greater efficiency. Aromatherapy products therefore sometimes use lemongrass oil for a general system-boosting effect.

How to Use Lemongrass Oil

Depending on the specific purpose for which he intends to use it of lemongrass essential oil, a consumer can chose from a variety of methods.

Commonly, lemongrass oil that is specifically created for consumption (food-grade oil) can be added to water. Generally, people will mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemongrass essential oil with approximately 6 ounces of hot water. This combination can provide individuals with a powerful well-being and anti-inflammatory tea.

On the other hand, if seeking calming lemongrass benefits with a bath or beauty product, or for its aromatherapy properties, lemongrass oil can also be used in the following ways

  • Use of an aromatherapy products containing lemongrass pre-mixed in;

  • Adding the essential oil yourself to a massage oil or lotion and applied to the skin, as some lemongrass beauty products aim to reduce signs of acne, oily skin, and cellulite

  • Combined with warm bathwater

  • Added to a cleanser for reduced signs of wrinkles and aging

Potential Dangers of Lemongrass Oil

While lemongrass essential oil can be used to stimulate mental, aromatherapy and physical benefits, individuals should always take caution before using any treatment. When used in various application methods, some people have reported side effects such as:

  • Burning sensation(s)

  • Reduced blood glucose (specifically problematic for diabetic patients)

  • Rise in pancreatic tests

  • Rise in liver function tests

  • Irritation, discomfort, and / or rash

With these potential side effects, peoplewith the following medical conditions should avoid using lemongrass essential oil:

  • Individuals taking oral diabetes drugs

  • Individuals taking anti-hypertensive drugs

  • Individuals taking p450 enzyme-related drugs and / or herbs / supplements with similar effects

  • Individuals with diabetes and / or individuals who are hypoglycemic

In addition, to avoid any reactions, people should be sure that they are not allergic to lemongrass prior to using any type of lemongrass oil.

Although allergic reactions are rare, people can consult with their doctors, or perform a small skin-area test to verify any potential allergenic response.

For a skin-area test, simply apply a small amount of lemongrass oil to a small area of skin. After a 24 hour period, check the tested area to see if any irritation has occurred.


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    • profile image

      liannah 7 years ago

      Thank you for a very informative article - I especially appreciate the drug interaction section. I would like to add that I did read that lemongrass oil can also increase sun sensitivity when used prior to sun exposure.

    • clydelady2 profile image

      Nancy Ann 7 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Very interesting. I haven't yet tried Lemongrass oil. I like the idea of using it in a cleanser for wrinkles & aging. Thanks!

    • lindaadams37 profile image

      lindaadams37 7 years ago

      Lemongrass oil is something which I haven't heard about. I have to use it to ascertain its usefulness. But thanks for sharing an informative article. I will keep that in mind.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks Sandy.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Very informative.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks very much, glad you found it useful.

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 8 years ago

      It is really a useful knowing about lemongrass oil. Even your way of writing with plus and minus is always welcome.thanks for the hub.