Health Benefits of Lemongrass Essential Oil

lemongrass
Lemongrass essential oil is sourced from lemongrass. Joff Lee/Photlibrary/Getty Images

Lemongrass essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from Cymbopogon citratus (a plant native to Southeast Asia), lemongrass essential oil is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

One of the main components of lemongrass essential oil is citral, a compound found to act as an antimicrobial (a substance that destroys or suppresses the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi).

Lemongrass essential oil also contains limonene, a compound shown to reduce inflammation and knock out bacteria in scientific research.

How Does Lemongrass Essential Oil Work?

In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of lemongrass essential oil (or absorbing lemongrass essential oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions. Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system. Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Health Benefits of Lemongrass Essential Oil

So far, the health effects of aromatherapeutic use of lemongrass essential oil have been tested in very few scientific studies. Still, some preliminary research indicates that lemongrass essential oil may offer certain health benefits.

In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, for instance, scientists determined that lemongrass essential oil may possess anti-anxiety properties. In tests on mice, the study's authors found that treatment with lemongrass essential oil may help reduce anxiety in part by influencing brain levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Several studies (including a 2009 report published in the Journal of Medicinal Food) suggest that lemongrass essential oil may also help inhibit the growth of certain fungi (such as Alternaria alternata, a fungus known to contribute to upper respiratory tract infections). However, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the use of lemongrass essential oil in treatment of any type of fungal infection.

Uses for Lemongrass Essential Oil

In aromatherapy, lemongrass essential oil is typically used to treat the following problems:

  • acne
  • anxiety
  • athlete's foot
  • excessive sweating
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • muscle aches

In addition, lemongrass essential oil is said to act as a natural insect repellent.

Lemongrass essential oil is also used to alleviate stress and relieve pain.

Using Lemongrass Essential Oil

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), lemongrass essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Lemongrass essential oil can also be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

Caveats

Lemongrass essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of lemongrass essential oil may have toxic effects.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation when applying lemongrass essential oil to the skin.

Pregnant or nursing women and children should consult with their health care providers before using essential oils.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with lemongrass essential oil, and avoiding or delaying standard care, may have serious consequences.

Learn more about how to use essential oil safely.

Where To Find It

Here are some tips on purchasing essential oils.

Widely available for purchase online, lemongrass essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

Sources

Costa CA, Kohn DO, de Lima VM, Gargano AC, Flório JC, Costa M. "The GABAergic system contributes to the anxiolytic-like effect of essential oil from Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass)." J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Sep 1;137(1):828-36.

Irkin R, Korukluoglu M. "Effectiveness of Cymbopogon citratus L. essential oil to inhibit the growth of some filamentous fungi and yeasts." J Med Food. 2009 Feb;12(1):193-7.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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