Serai Makan

Plant Part Used

Stalks and Leaves

Active Constituents

Stereoisomeric monterpene aldehydes; trans isomer geranial (40-62%), cis isomer neral (25-38%), nerol, limonene, linalool, beta-caryphyllene, C. flexuosus, alcohols (20-30% cotronellol, geranoil), aldehydes (15% geranial, 10% neral, 5% citronellal), myrecene, dipentene, , nerol, citronellol, farnesol, linalooletc, geraniol, Citral a, Citral b, furfural, isovaleraidehyde, citronellal, decylaldehyde, farnesal, diacetyl, methyl heptenone. (1) , (2) , (3)


Lemon grass is a fragrant tropical grass, closely related to Citronella. It is said to be indigenous to India where it has been cultivated for its oil since 1888. However, it grows widely in many tropical countries of Asia, America, and Africa. In Malaysia it is normally cultivated in home gardens. In the Malay Peninsula, lemon grass is recommended in folk medicine for common colds, pneumonia, fevers, and gastric problems. (4) Lemon grass is a tall perennial grass with dense fascicles of leaves from a stout rhizome. It can grow up to a height of one meter. The leaves are sessile, simple green, linear, equally arranged, and can grow to an average size of forty centimetres. This plant is one of the chief sources of Citral, which is an important raw material of perfumery, confectionery, and beverages.


No standard marker has been reported. Other standard profiles have been documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph. (5)

Toxicities & Precautions


It is non-toxic and relatively safe when used in folk medicine. (6)

Side Effects

No information available

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

No information available

Age Limitations

No information available


Several pharmacological activities have been reported for essential oil of lemon grass.

Ascaricidal and Antiascariasis activity
The essential oil extracted from fresh leaves of lemon grass has been found to have strong ascaricidal activity in an experiment with cattle ticks. For such ascaricidal activity, the essential oil of lemon grass is used with ethanol either at a 1:2 or a 1:4 ratio. A whole plant extract of lemon grass has shown antiascariasis activity against earthworms. (7)

Anti-amoebic activity
Lemon grass essential oil has been shown to possess anti-amoebic activity as tested against Entamoeba histolyteca. This anti-amoebic activity has been found in a 95% ethanolic extract of the plant. (8)

Anti-microbial activity
Chromatographic fractions of the essential oil from lemon grass have shown antibacterial activity against several pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella paratyphi, Shigella flexneri, Bacillus mycoides, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Bacillus subtilis. Apart from its antibacterial activity, the essential oil and its components extracted from lemon grass have shown anti-fungal properties and fungi-toxicity. (9) , (10) , (11) , (12)

Other activities
Beside these properties described above, extracts and the essential oil of lemon grass have also shown antioxidant activity and anti-cancer activity in cases of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis in animals. (13) Cymbopogon citrates extract reported to have faecal glucuronidase inhibiting activity. The 80% ethanol extract has shown anti-mutagenic activity towards chemical induced mutations in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA 98 and TA 100. (14) Oral administration of an infusion of lemon grass has shown a dose dependent analgesic effect against hyperalgesia induced by carrageenin or prostaglandin E2. (15) , (16) Extracts of lemon grass have been shown to retard the growth of transplanted fibrosarcoma cells in mice in association with lung metastasis. (17) It has also been observed that lemon grass extract can inhibit rat colon carcinogenesis initiated with azoxymethane, induced DNA adducts, and aberrant crypt foci in rat colon. (18)

Reported Uses

Uses reported in folk medicine, but not supported by clinical data.
This plant is traditionally used as a sedative, hypnotic, analgesic, anti-emetic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, anti-tissugen, anti-reheumatic, asthmolytic, diuretic, sudorofic, and for conditions such as gastrointestinal disturbances, common colds, pneumonia, etc.


Read More

 1) Botanical Info

 2) Cultivation

 3) Essential Oil


  1. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  2. Sidibe L, Chalchat JC, Garry RP, Lacombe L, Harama M. Aromatic plants of Mali (IV): Chemical composition of essential oils of Cymbopogon citrates (DC) Stapf. And C. giganteus (Hochst) Chiov. J Essent Oil Res. 2001;13:110-112.
  3. Guenther E. The Essential Oils. Krieger ER Publishing Co Inc; 1972.
  4. Carlini EA, Jaudia De DP, Contar Armando R Silva-Filho, et al. Pharmacology of lemon grass Cymbopogon citrates Staf. I. Effects of tea prepared from the leaves on laboratory animals. J Ethnopharmacology. 1986;17:37-64.
  5. Ismail Z, Ismail N, Lassa J. Malaysian Herbal Monograph. Malaysian Monograph Committee. 1999;1.
  6. Capbajal D, Casaco A, Arruzazabala L, Gongalez R, Tolon Z. Pharmacological study of Cymbopogon citratus leaves. J Ethnopharmacology. 1989;25:103-7.
  7. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  8. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  9. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  10. Onawuntai Go, Yisak W-A, Ogunlana EO. Antibacterial constituent in the essential oil of Cymbopogon citrates (DC). Stapf J Ethnopharmacology. 1984;12:279-286.
  11. Ogunlana EO, Hoeglund S, et al. Effects of lemon grass oil on the morphological characteristics and peptidoglycan synthesis of Escherichia coli cells. Micribios. 1987;50:43-59.
  12. Wannissorn B, Jarikasen S, Soontrontanasart T. Antifungal activity of lemon grass oil and lemon grass cream. Phytotherapy Research. 1996;10(7):551-554.
  13. Pimsaeng K. Anti-micronucleus formation of lemon grass extract. Master’s thesis, Faculty of Medicine. Chiang Mai University. Chiang Mai, Thailand. 1993.
  14. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  15. Ross IA. Medicinal plant of the world. Totowa, NJ USA: Humana Press Inc; 120-1.
  16. Lorenzetti BB, Souza GEP, Sarti SJ, Filho DS, Ferreira SH. Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea. J Ethnopharmacology. 1991;34(1):43-48.
  17. Suaeyun R, Kinouchi T, Arimochi H, Vinitketkumnuen U, Ohnishi Y. Inhibitory effects of lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus, Stapf) on formation of azoxymethane-induced adducts and aberrant crypt foci in the rat colon. Carcinogenesis. 1997;18:949–955.
  18. Rawiwan P, Kishida H, Denda A, Murata N, et al. Inhibitory effects of lemon grass (Cymbopogon citrates) extract on the early phase of hepatocarcinogenesis after initiation with diethylnitrosamine in male fischer 344 rats. Cancer Letters. 2002;183:9-15.
in this scope
Malaysian Herbal Monograph​
Medicinal Herbs & Plants Monographs​
Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbs (Professional Data)
Herbal Medicines Compendium (HMC) - U.S​