Lemongrass is often confused with citronella, and whilst the two herbs share quite a few similarities, there are some key differences that set them apart.
That is why lemongrass essential oil has become such a prominent part of aromatherapy culture, after originally rising to prominence in East Indian, Sri Lankan and Chinese medicine many centuries ago.
The oil was originally found to be useful in the treatment of fevers and stomach pains, whilst also offering protection against skin infections and irregular periods.
Of course, many people know lemongrass for its culinary qualities, which lends itself well to a variety of savoury dishes such as cooked meats, soups and salads.
Lemongrass oil benefits are plentiful, and here we look at them in more detail to see how it can be used to improve various physical and mental health conditions.
What is lemongrass oil?
Lemongrass oil is extracted from the lemongrass herb via steam distillation, producing a pale-yellow liquid with a gentle scent of lemon.
The lemongrass herb, which is also known by its botanical name, Cymbopogon Citratus, is native to India and Southeast Asia, and is commonly used in a host of culinary dishes.
Today, it is also grown in large quantities in Australia, Africa and North and South America.
The refreshing citrus scent is also frequently used in aromatherapy and is a common ingredient in health and beauty products.
How does lemongrass oil work?
Research has enabled us to learn more about the health potential of lemongrass oil. It is rich in phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which have a high content of antioxidants, and can help to protect your body against damage caused by free radicals.
Lemongrass essential oil can also work as an effective antifungal and antibacterial agent, which can prove useful when it comes to combating certain types of fungi and bodily inflammation.
Benefits of lemongrass oil
The main health benefits of lemongrass essential oil offer the potential for it to:
1. Work as an effective cleaning agent
Lemongrass essential oil is 70-80% citral, a chemical compound that contains strong antimicrobial properties.
The antimicrobial properties of lemongrass oil are provided by its constituents limonene and citral, which prove to be particularly useful when it comes to battling various infections and forms of bacteria.
An older study, published in 2008, found that the oil also contained powerful antifungal abilities.
Additionally, a 1996 study found it was effective against four types of fungi, with one type being responsible for causing jock itch, ringworm and athlete’s foot.
2. Offer protection against bugs and insects
Our homes are exposed to a variety of bugs and pests and not everyone is comfortable letting them crawl and fly around without restriction.
The high geraniol and citral content in lemongrass oil could offer some respite, however, as research has found it can be effective at repelling mosquitoes.
Scientists involved in a 2015 study also discovered that combining lemongrass oil with a vegetable-based carrier oil could offer as much as 98.5% protection against house mosquitoes.
You can put this to the test at home by adding 15-20 drops of lemongrass essential oil to a glass spray bottle filled with distilled water, before spritzing it at flying bugs as and when needed.
3. Potentially improve gut health
Studies into the effectiveness of lemongrass oil on gut health have produced some interesting results to date.
For example, in 2012, scientists found that lemongrass essential oil possessed the ability to protect the stomach from gastric damage and even went as far as preventing the formation of ulcers or other irritations.
Elsewhere, it is also believed that lemongrass oil could contain antidiarrheal properties, which could be related to its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Whilst more research is needed, these elements could mean the oil is able to promote comfort and health in the gut.
4. Soothe aching muscles
Topical uses of lemongrass oil mean it can work as an effective treatment for soothing sore muscles and muscular spasms.
Studies have also been conducted that suggest the oil may be able to improve circulation.
A study published in 2011 found that lemongrass oil benefits extended to easing muscle pain, whilst further research a few years later found that the anti-inflammatory properties were most likely the reason it was able to work so effectively.
5. Improve skin and hair
When researching the benefits of lemongrass oil, you may be surprised to learn that the oil can do wonders for the appearance of your skin and hair.
Thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, lemongrass essential oil has long been used to treat irritated, swollen skin.
It may also be able to reduce the appearance of redness, offering protection for pores against harmful bacteria.
The astringent properties of lemongrass oil can improve the elasticity of the skin, leaving it looking refreshed and more youthful.
You could also try using lemongrass essential oil on the scalp, with some finding it can offer relief from itching and symptoms associated with dandruff.
6. Calm feelings of anxiety
Lemongrass oil benefits are not only linked to the body, but also the mind, with the scent offering a sense of relief when it comes to managing negative emotions.
Researchers looked at this in more detail in 2015 and found that when people were exposed to an anxiety-causing situation, these symptoms decreased after smelling lemongrass oil.
Inhaling the oil allowed the participants to recover from the stressful moment almost immediately, which was in stark contrast to the control group who experienced anxiety-related emotions for longer.
7. Ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Lemongrass oil uses are varied, and it could offer relief for people with rheumatoid arthritis, which is most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
This is based on a 2017 study involving 30 people who took part in tests to understand more about the health benefits of lemongrass essential oil.
They all had rheumatoid arthritis and were aged between 35-70 years old.
During the tests, participants were given 3 milligrams of lemongrass oil which was applied for a period of 30 days.
When the study was completed, researchers found that less pain was experienced by a large percentage of people involved.
8. Calm headache pain
Although research into this benefit is limited, some studies have found that lemongrass oil could prove helpful when it comes to calming headache pain.
Researchers in Australia found that native Australian lemongrass was able to provide pain relief for migraines and headaches.
They believe that the eugenol compound contains similar abilities to aspirin.
It is thought that the clumping together of blood platelets can be prevented by eugenol.
The compound can also release serotonin, a hormone that plays a vital role in sleep, appetite, mood and cognitive functions.
9. Regulate blood sugars and lipids
People with type 2 diabetes who have high levels of blood sugar may find that lemongrass oil could offer some help.
This belief is based on a 2007 rat study, where they were given a daily oral dose of 500 milligrams of lemongrass oil for 42 days.
At the end of the study, researchers found that blood sugar levels in the rats had been lowered.
At the same time, lipid parameters had been changed, whilst HDL (good) cholesterol levels had increased.
10. Relieve nausea and prevent gastric ulcers
People have used lemongrass as a folk remedy for hundreds of years in the belief that it can ease several digestive issues, including gastric ulcers and stomach aches.
In 2012, researchers conducted a mice study using lemongrass essential oil, and found that it was able to prevent gastric ulcers, which are a common cause of stomach pain.
When it comes to treating nausea, lemongrass is commonly included in herbal teas and supplements.
These treatments typically use dried lemongrass leaves, although adding food grade lemongrass oil could also be effective.
How to use lemongrass oil
Lemongrass oil uses tend to vary, incorporating aromatherapy, massage and skincare. This gives you the freedom to use it:
As a bath oil
To enjoy the benefits of lemongrass essential oil in a warm relaxing bath, simply add 6-8 diluted drops (using a carrier oil of your choice) to the bathwater.
The therapeutic qualities of the oil will shine through in the scent, filling the air with a gentle, lemony aroma.
As a skin treatment
People apply diluted lemongrass oil to their skin due its astringent properties, which can improve elasticity and create a more youthful appearance.
To try this at home, add a couple of drops of lemongrass essential oil to a carrier oil of choice or your preferred skincare lotion and spread evenly into affected areas.
History of lemongrass oil
Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations were big believers in the power of lemongrass oil and it is believed that the uplifting, gentle scent of the oil saw it become an integral part of the global perfumery trade in the 17th century.
Sri Lankan researcher J.F. Jovit helped bring the oil into the modern age at the start of the 20th century, after he acquired several lemongrass plants which were then used as the bases for research.
A few decades later, once some of the initial benefits of lemongrass oil had been scientifically documented, commercial cultivation began in Florida and Haiti.
Lemongrass Oil FAQs
Is lemongrass oil good for your nails?
Some people are hesitant to use nail polish remover due to its toxicity. However, lemongrass oil could offer a natural alternative.
When the oil is diluted with a carrier oil and applied to a cotton ball, you can use it to remove nail polish in the exact same way.
Let the oil soak onto the nail for no longer than 30 seconds before rubbing it off.
Is lemongrass oil safe for dogs and cats?
Lemongrass oil is not safe for dogs or cats, so you should ensure they do not come into contact with it.
This is due to the oil’s natural toxicity, which if consumed in large quantities, could cause an upset stomach, or impact internal organs.
In some extreme cases this could even have a terminal effect.
Is lemongrass the same as citronella?
Although lemongrass and citronella look similar, they are in fact two different herbs.
You can spot the difference between the herbs by examining the pseudostem (the part closest to the ground).
Lemongrass is uniformly green, whilst citronella has a more reddish tone.
|100% Pure Lemongrass Essential Oil|
|Botanical Name||Cymbopogon Citratus|
|Benefits & Uses||Antibacterial, Insect Repellent, Calming|
|Suitable for Diffusers?||Yes, this lemongrass essential oil is perfect for diffusers.|
|Suitable for Candles and Soaps?||Yes, this lemongrass essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.|
|Extraction Method||Steam Distillation|
|Bottle Type||Tamper proof and UV resistant|