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Cymbopogon citratus


Cymbopogon citratus

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Lemongrass, lemon grass, ginger grass, fever grass, west Indian lemon grass

Original Habitat

The essential oil of C. citratus, or Lemongrass, has been used for its medicinal properties and for flavourings, cosmetics and perfumes.[1] The lemongrass plant grows in clusters, and has long blades of grass extending from the top of the plant which grow up to one metre and are extremely aromatic. The plant is native to Sri Lanka and Southern India and now grows throughout Asia. Lemongrass grows well in sunny, well drained and slightly sandy soils. It is currently cultivated throughout the world in areas that meet its growth requirements.

Plant Part Used

Dried Leaves


C. citratus oil is widely used in the food and beverage industry, the fragrance industry and in household products.[2] It is also found as an ingredient in some insect repellants. In therapeutic aromatherapy it is often used as a single oil and frequently found in formulations targeted for specific conditions.


The essential oil of C. citratus is steam-distilled from the leaves taken from the top of the plant. This essential oil is dark yellow to amber in colour.  It has a strong citrusy, grassy note and fresh aroma and is extremely thin in consistency. It is also subject to decomposition if not distilled and stored properly.

Chemical Constituents

Beta-pinene [2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Medicinal Uses

Digestive stimulant+++
Circulatory stimulant+++

Antifungal- One of the most prominent properties of lemongrass oil is its antifungal activity. Several studies have demonstrated positive results using this essential oil against a variety of fungi and yeasts including, but not limited to include A. niger and C. albicans.[9]

When lemongrass essential oil was tested against Candida, the oil demonstrated more antifungal activity when compared to two tested synthetic antibiotics.[10] Mycelia growth was inhibited indicating promise for lemongrass as a treatment in both oral and vaginal Candida. This is thought be due to the citral content of the oil.[11]

C. citratus has illustrated antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger and demonstrated the strongest activity in a laboratory comparison analysis with four other essential oils.[12]

Anti-parasitic- Leishmania chagasi, responsible for the disease leishmaniasis, was greatly inhibited by lemongrass essential oil, in a dose-dependant manner. Severe morphological changes were seen in these parasites treated by this essential oil.[13]

 Lemongrass oil and its constituent citral were tested against three different forms of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. This oil exhibited inhibitory effects against all three forms. This study warrants further research in potential anti-parasitic therapies.[14]

Plasmodium berghei is a parasite responsible for malaria. An in vivo test examined lemongrass and basil essential oils and their possible anti-malarial activity. Both oils showed promising activity in mice over a four-day period of treatment; however, lemongrass oil showed stronger anti-malarial activity against this specific parasite.[8]

Antibacterial- C. citratus oil exhibited antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori in a laboratory setting. In addition, resistance was not developed to lemongrass after ten applications, thereby showing possible anti-resistant bactericidal actions of this oil.[15]

C. citratus oil exhibited antibacterial activity against Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157, and Campylobacter jejunii, among others.[16][17] Lemongrass is bactericidal against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.[18]

Anti-anxiety- Essential oil of lemongrass was administered orally to mice before stress tests. The outcome from numerous tests demonstrated anti-anxiety, sedative and anticonvulsive effects with lemongrass essential oil.[19]

Analgesic- Central antinociceptive activity was seen in writhing test in mice after intraperitoneal injections of C. citratus essential oil. This was also seen at the peripheral level. Other studies have demonstrated similar results.[20]

Traditional Use

Appetite stimulant+++
Intestinal parasites++++
Improved lactation in nursing mothers++
General detoxification+++
General skin conditions++
Arthritic pain, pain from exercise++

 Insecticide- As with many other essential oils, lemongrass has demonstrated insecticidal activity. Using fumigation, lemongrass was effective against the larvae of Lycoriella ingenua (Dufour).[21]

Lemongrass showed larvicidal activity against Aedes aegypti L., a known contributor of dengue fever in Brazil.[22]

 Insect Repellant- In an effort to identify a cost effective addition to the use of netting in the Amazon region’s malaria vector, researchers examined the repellency of lemongrass essential oil applied topically with results demonstrating a 74% protective effect for 2.5 hours.[23]

Contraindications and Precautions

In an animal model, ingestion of C. citratus oil caused severe liver and stomach damage at a dose of 1500 mg/kg body weight.1 Caution should be used when ingesting large amounts of this oil. Always consult a health care provider with oral use of lemongrass.

May be sensitizing.

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women unless prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Not to be used by children.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Cultivation

  3) Malaysian  Herbal and Plants



 1.         Fandohan P. Toxicity and gastric tolerance of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus, Ocimum gratissimum and Ocimum basilicum in Wistar rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Jul;46(7):2493-2497.

2.         Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science : A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Pharm Press; 2006.

3.         Barbosa LC. Evaluation of the chemical composition of Brazilian commercial Cymbopogon citratus (D.C.) stapf samples. Molecules. 27 Aug 2008;13(8):1864-1874.

4.         Rauber Cda S. LC determination of citral in Cymbopogon citratus volatile oil. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 9 Mar 2005;37(3):597-601.

5.         Marongiu B. Comparative analysis of the oil and supercritical CO(2) extract of Cymbopogon citratus Stapf. Nat Prod Res. 10 May 2006;20(5):455-459.

6.         Schaneberg BT. Comparison of extraction methods for marker compounds in the essential oil of lemon grass by GC. J Agric Food Chem. 13 Mar 2002;50(6):1345-1349.

7.         De-Oliveira AC. In vitro inhibition of CYP2B1 monooxygenase by beta-myrcene and other monoterpenoid compounds. Toxicol Lett. 16 Jun 1997;92(1):39-46.

8.         Tchoumbougnang F. In vivo anti-malarial activity of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus and Ocimum gratissimum on mice infected with Plasmodium berghei. Planta Med. 2005 Jan;71(1):20-23.

9.         Irkin R. Effectiveness of Cymbopogon citratus L. essential oil to inhibit the growth of some filamentous fungi and yeasts. J Med Food. Feb 2009;12(1):193-197.

10.        Dutta BK. Anticandidial activity of some essential oils of a mega biodiversity hotspot in India. Mycoses. Mar 2007;50(2):121-124.

11.        Abe S. [Anti-Candida albicans activity of essential oils including Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil and its component, citral] [Article in Japanese] Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi. 2003;44(4):285-291.

12.        Pawar VC. In vitro efficacy of 75 essential oils against Aspergillus niger. Mycoses. Jul 2006;49(4):316-323.

13.        Oliveira VC. Effects of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf., Lippia sidoides Cham., and Ocimum gratissimum L. on growth and ultrastructure of Leishmania chagasi promastigotes. Parasitol Res. Apr 2009;104(5):1053-1059.

14.        Santoro GF. Anti-proliferative effect of the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf (lemongrass) on intracellular amastigotes, bloodstream trypomastigotes and culture epimastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi (Protozoa: Kinetoplastida). Parasitology. Oct 2007;134(11):1649-1656.

15.        Ohno T. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils against Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter. Jun 2003;8(3):207-215.

16.        Wannissorn B. Antibacterial properties of essential oils from Thai medicinal plants. Fitoterapia. Mar 2005;76(2):233-236.

17.        Nguefack J. Five essential oils from aromatic plants of Cameroon: their antibacterial activity and ability to permeabilize the cytoplasmic membrane of Listeria innocua examined by flow cytometry. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2004;39(5):395-400.

18.        Onawunmi GO. Antibacterial constituents in the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. J Ethnopharmacol. Dec 1984;12(3):279-286.

19.        Blanco MM. Neurobehavioral effect of essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus in mice. Phytomedicine. Mar 2009;16(2-3):265-270.

20.        Zamith HP. Braz Absence of genotoxic activity of beta-myrcene in the in vivo cytogenetic bone marrow assay. J Med Biol Res. 1993;26(1):93-98.

21.        Park IK. Toxicity of plant essential oils and their components against Lycoriella ingenua (Diptera: Sciaridae). J Econ Entomol. Feb 2008;101(1):139-144.

22.        Cavalcanti ES. Larvicidal activity of essential oils from Brazilian plants against Aedes aegypti L. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. Aug 2004;99(5):541-544.

23.        Moore SJ. Field evaluation of traditionally used plant-based insect repellents and fumigants against the malaria vector Anopheles darlingi in Riberalta, Bolivian Amazon. J Med Entomol. Jul 2007;44(4):624-630.

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