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Cymbopogon martinii


Cymbopogon martinii

[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

Palmarosa, geranium grass, Indian geranium, rosha grass

Original Habitat

This perennial is an aromatic ground covering grass, common in places such as India and Vietnam.[1] Palmarosa oil has been shown to be protective as a pesticide and fumigant in foods.[2] There are two types of palmarosa that are cultivated in India, the Motia variety and the Sofia variety. The Motia variety is more desired for its high quantity of geraniol (the main chemical constituent) and for its very strong aroma. It is grown wildly in India and used throughout many industries.[3] The oil of palmarosa is also known as rosha, used in Ayurvedic Medicine.

Plant Part Used

Plant (herb)


Palmarosa oil is used frequently in foods and beverages. It is also used to fragrance body care products such as soaps, lotions, shampoos, insect repellant and in topical muscle relaxers. It is regularly used as a fragrance in perfumes and is used for inhalation only in aromatherapy.


The thin oil is produced by steam distillation of the herb. Depending upon the quality, the oil is pale yellow (higher quality) to olive (lower quality). It has a sweet, floral scent with some woody undertones and is known for its base notes.

Chemical Constituents

Monoterpenols: Geraniol (80%), linalol (5%)
Terpenic esters (10%) [4][5]

Medicinal Uses

Analgesic ++
General tonic of the neuro-hormonal (endocrine) system (uterine tonic, nerve tonic, cardio-tonic) ++
Immunostimulant ++
Fungicidal +++
Antiviral +++

Antibacterial- C. martinii showed antibacterial activity in a challenge against 13 different Escherichia coli serotypes. C. martini demonstrated a broad inhibition spectrum against 10 of the 13 Escherichia coli serotypes. HPLC analysis indicated geraniol as the active responsible for antimicrobial activity. The study concluded C. martinii that C. martini could have significant therapeutic potential.[6]

Antimicrobial- This essential oil showed antimicrobial effects against Escherichia coli serotypes. The compound attributed to these effects was geraniol, among others.[6] Also exhibited antimicrobial properties against Saccharomyces cerevisiae.[7]

Anthelmintic- An in vitro study examined the anthelmintic activity of C. martini and one of the actives, gernaniol, against Caenorhabditis elegans. Since both substances demonstrated anthelmintic activity it was concluded that gernaniol is the active ingredient of Cymopogon martini that possesses these properties.[4]

Traditional Use

Sinusitis, otitis, bronchitis, rhinopharyngitis +++
Cystitis, urethritis, vaginitis, cervicitis, labor +++
Acne, dry eczema, purulent eczema +++
Cardiac fatigue ++
Bacterial and viral enteritis +++
Breast pains, mastosis ++
Foot care and hair care +++

Clinical studies on the therapeutic properties of C. martinii are lacking. Most laboratory studies available in published literature focuses on the anti-microbial effects of the oil and how that is relevant within the food industry as a preservative that is non toxic to humans.

Mosquito repellant– C. martinii oil has been the subject of numerous studies as a mosquito repellant in regard to preventive actions against the spread of malaria. In all three studies cited herein, C. martinii oil demonstrated strong protective properties against several species of mosquitoes including Anopheles culicifacies, and Culex quinquefasciatus. In one study, the mosquito repellant properties lasted for 12 hours.[8][9][10]

Contraindications and Precautions

Palmarosa is known as a non-toxic, non-irritant essential oil when inhaled.



[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]

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  1)Botanical info


  1. Singh A, et al. Productivity and economic viability of a palmarosa–pigeonpea intercropping system in the subtropical climate of north India. J Agri Sci. 1998;130:149-154.
  2. Kumar R, et al. Evaluation of Cymbopogon martinii oil extract for control of postharvest insect deterioration in cereals and legumes. J Food Protec. Jan2007;70(1):172-178.
  3. Srtvastava HK. Genetic resources and biotechnolgical insights for improvement of Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii). Proc Nat Acad Sci India. 1996;66(B):H.
  4. Kumaran AM. Geraniol, the putative anthelmintic principle of Cymbopogon martinii. Phytother Res. Sep2003;17(8):957.
  5. Sharma P, et al. Coherent ontogenic dynamics of geraniol acetyltransferase activity and geranyl acetate concentration in flowers and leaves of aroma grass Cymbopogon martinii var. Motia. Plant Growth Reg. Mar2009;(57)2:103-108.
  6. Duarte MC. Activity of essential oils from Brazilian medicinal plants on Escherichia coli. J Ethnopharmacol. 4 May2007;111(2):197-201.
  7. Prashar A. Antimicrobial action of palmarosa oil (Cymbopogon martinii) on Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Phytochemistry. Jul2003;63(5):569-575.
  8. Das MK, Ansari MA. Evaluation of repellent action of Cymbopogan martinii martinii Stapf var sofia oil against Anopheles sundaicus in tribal villages of Car Nicobar Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. J Vector Borne Dis. Sep-Dec2003;40(3-4):100-104.
  9. Ansari MA, Razdan RK. Repellent action of Cymbopogan martinii martinii Stapf var. sofia oil against mosquitoes. Indian J Malariol. Sep1994;31(3):95-102.
  10. Ansari MA, Razdan RK. Relative efficacy of various oils in repelling mosquitoes. Indian J Malariol. Sep1995;32(3):104-111.


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