8 Proven Health Benefits of Lemongrass Essential Oil

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Lemongrass essential oil, celebrated for its refreshing citrus scent, has emerged as a versatile gem in the realms of aromatherapy, beauty, and holistic health. Originating from the lush Southeastern Asian tropics, this oil is a key element in diverse culinary traditions and soothing tea blends. Its multifaceted utility extends far beyond fragrance; lemongrass oil is prized for its potential in reducing inflammation, enhancing digestion, soothing headaches, and even repelling mosquitoes. Scientific research underscores its efficacy in pain relief, bacterial growth inhibition, and even antifungal properties.

This natural wonder, utilized through inhalation or in various topical formulations, embodies a fusion of traditional wisdom and modern science, offering a holistic approach to well-being and health maintenance. Join us in exploring the myriad benefits of this aromatic elixir, a testament to nature’s ability to nurture and heal.

What is Lemongrass Essential Oil?

Lemongrass essential oil is carefully extracted from dried lemongrass using the meticulous process of steam distillation. This botanical gem is scientifically recognized by the names Cymbopogon citratus or Andropogon citratus. The essential oil derived from lemongrass boasts a rich composition, encompassing constituents such as myrcene, citronellal, geranyl acetate, nerol, geraniol, neral, limonene, and citral.

Contrary to its name, lemongrass offers a more subdued and sweeter fragrance reminiscent of lemons. This aromatic grass plays a pivotal role in an array of culinary delights, adding its distinct essence to beverages like tea, delectable desserts, and a variety of gastronomic creations. Its versatility shines through in Chinese and Thai recipes, effectively filling the void left by fresh lemons when their potent flavor isn’t suitable. This rapid-growing grass holds its value in both organic and mainstream markets, making it a sought-after and economically viable commodity.

3 jars of lemongrass oil with whole and sliced lemongrass on a mat

Lemongrass oil is known for its powerful analgesic properties. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Lemongrass Essential Oil Health Benefits

Lemongrass has many health benefits because of its medicinal properties. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Relieves Pain

Lemongrass essential oil’s potential anti-inflammatory properties suggest it could alleviate pain. Intriguingly, a 2017 research, published in Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, highlighted a notable decline, from 80% to 50% in pain levels over a month, in rheumatoid arthritis patients using topical lemongrass oil. Concurrently, another 2012 study, this time on mice, reinforced its capability to deter gastric ulcers and stomach pain. The element ‘citral’ in the oil is believed to be pivotal in these therapeutic effects. [1] [2]

Inhibits Bacterial Growth

A 2010 study explored lemongrass oil’s action against various bacterial strains, including S. aureus and E. coli. Most bacteria showed vulnerability and the research concluded the potential of lemongrass oil, especially against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Another study conducted in 2022 indicated lemongrass oil’s efficacy in preventing spore formation in bacteria causing skin conditions like pitted keratolysis, highlighting the potential therapeutic use of lemongrass oil for such infections. [3] [4]

Mosquito Repellent

Lemongrass essential oil is a well-known mosquito repellent and hence it is also added commercially in some mosquito repellents. There is some documented scientific research as well showcasing the use of lemongrass for repelling mosquitoes. In a study conducted in 2007, it was observed that volunteers in Guatemala and Peru repelled mosquitoes more when a mixture of para-menthane-diol (PMD) and lemongrass oil was applied topically. Lemongrass oil can be effective for repelling house flies and stable flies as well according to two research studies conducted in 2011 and in 2013 respectively. [5] [6] [7]

Antifungal Properties

Lemongrass essential oil exhibits strong antifungal capabilities. A 2014 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) demonstrated its effectiveness against fungi like Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger, with larger oil volumes enhancing its inhibitory action. Another study in 1996 reported by Wiley Online Library confirmed its efficacy in combating fungi responsible for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch. [8] [9]

Additionally, 2021 research by NCBI highlighted the oil’s ability to disrupt established fungal biofilms on silicone surfaces, commonly used in medical devices, in a dose-dependent manner. These findings underscore the potential of lemongrass essential oil as a natural antifungal agent. [10]

Reduces Cholesterol

Lemongrass essential oil, known for its high geraniol and citral content, has shown potential in reducing cholesterol levels. A study involving 22 hypercholesterolemic subjects taking 140 mg of lemongrass oil daily revealed a notable decrease in cholesterol levels in some participants after 90 days. This study, published in 1989, indicated a division in response, with significant reductions in cholesterol levels in the responsive group. [11]

Supporting this, a 2007 study found that lemongrass oil significantly lowered cholesterol in rats on a high-cholesterol diet. These findings suggest lemongrass oil’s potential benefits in cholesterol management. [12]

Relieve Headaches

Cymbopogon ambiguus, a type of lemongrass, has traditional uses in Australia for treating headaches. A study highlighted in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2011 found that compounds in C. ambiguus, especially eugenol, effectively inhibit serotonin release in human platelets, similar to aspirin. This provides scientific backing for its use in non-conventional headache treatments. [13]

Regulate Blood Sugar

A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2007) revealed that Cymbopogon citratus, commonly known as lemongrass, has significant hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. When administered to male Wistar rats for 42 days, the lemongrass aqueous extract not only lowered fasting plasma glucose but also improved lipid profiles, increasing HDL-c levels. This supports its traditional use in managing blood sugar levels. [14]

Helps with Gastrointestinal Health and Diarrhea

Cymbopogon citratus, better known as lemongrass, shows potential in enhancing gastrointestinal health. A detailed 2022 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discovered that lemongrass aqueous extract could significantly improve intestinal motility and alleviate symptoms in a slow transit constipation (STC) mouse model. This effect is attributed to its influence on the enteric nervous system, neurotransmitter secretion, and gut microbiota. [15]

In addition to these findings, a 2012 study also indicated lemongrass essential oil’s role in preventing gastric ulcers in mice.  [16]

Furthermore, the plant’s numerous phytoconstituents, including essential oils and flavonoids, contribute to its wide range of pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammatory and antidiarrheal properties. These studies underscore lemongrass’s potential therapeutic benefits for gastrointestinal issues. [17]

Lemongrass Essential Oil FAQs

What is lemongrass oil good for?

With its fresh and citrusy aroma, lemongrass essential oil is widely used in skincare and cosmetics, in hair care products, soaps and bath products. It’s a popular fragrance in perfumes, deodorants, candles, and air fresheners, and acts as a natural insect repellent. Additionally, lemongrass oil can be found in some household cleaners, therapeutic balms and rubs, aromatherapy diffusers, and massage oils.

How to use lemongrass essential oil?

Lemongrass oil, with its refreshing citrus scent, has a variety of applications. For topical use, dilute it with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, at a ratio of 2-3 drops of lemongrass oil to every teaspoon of carrier oil; this can be applied for skin care, massage, or as a natural insect repellent. For aromatic purposes, add a few drops to a diffuser or a pot of boiling water to fill the room with its invigorating fragrance. Always conduct a patch test on a small area of skin before full application, and consult a health professional before ingesting or using it for therapeutic purposes.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, lemongrass essential oil stands out as a natural powerhouse, offering a spectrum of health and wellness benefits. From its roots in traditional Southeast Asian cultures to its modern-day applications in aromatherapy and holistic medicine, this oil has proven its worth. Its ability to alleviate pain, reduce stress and anxiety, combat bacterial and fungal infections, and even act as a natural insect repellent, makes it a valuable addition to anyone’s wellness toolkit. While more research is needed to fully understand and harness its potential, the existing studies are promising. As with any natural remedy, it’s important to use lemongrass essential oil responsibly and consult healthcare professionals when necessary. Embracing the natural, invigorating, and therapeutic properties of lemongrass essential oil could be a step towards a more balanced and healthful lifestyle.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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