What is Lemongrass Essential Oil?
Besides being a delicious citrusy seasoning in Thai cooking, most of us would never guess that this delicious thready grass holds so much healing power inside its fibrous stalks.
Surprisingly, lemongrass essential oil is used as aromatherapy to relieve muscle pain, externally to kill bacteria, ward off insects, and reduce body aches, and internally to help your digestive system. It can also be used for flavoring tea and soups, and it adds fragrance to cosmetics, soaps, and homemade deodorizers.
Lemongrass is an herb that belongs to the grass family of Poaceae. Lemongrass oil has a light and fresh lemony smell with earthy undertones. It is stimulating, relaxing, soothing, and balancing.
The compounds that make up lemongrass essential oil are known to have anti-fungal, insecticidal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemongrass may prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast and it has antioxidant properties.(1) It contains substances that are used to alleviate muscle pain, reduce fever, and to stimulate uterus and menstrual flow.
Lemongrass is also known by Cymbopogon; it is a genus of about 55 species of grasses. Lemongrass grows in dense clumps that can grow 6 feet in height and 4 feet in width. It is native to warm and tropical regions, such as India, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. It is used as a medicinal herb in India and it is common in Asian cuisine. In African and South American countries, it is popularly used for making tea.
Lemongrass Essential Oil Benefits
Lemongrass essential oil is a source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and vitamin C. It also provides essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.
Some of the most common lemongrass essential oil benefits are:
- Relieves headaches
- Reduces stomach aches
- Alleviates abdominal and muscle pain
- Kills germs
- Acts as an astringent
- Reduces fever
- Boosts energy
- Eases digestive tract spasms
18 Lemongrass Essential Oil Uses
1. Natural Deodorizer
Use lemongrass oil as a natural and safe air freshener or deodorizer. You can add the oil to water and use it as a mist or use an oil diffuser or vaporizer. By adding other essential oils, like lavender or peppermint, you can customize your own natural fragrance.
2. Skin Health
One major lemongrass essential oil benefit is its skin healing properties. Add lemongrass oil to shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, soaps, and lotions. Lemongrass oil is an effective cleanser for all skin types; its antiseptic and astringent properties make lemongrass oil perfect for getting even and glowing skin. It can sterilize your pores, serve as a natural toner, and strengthen your skin tissues. By rubbing this oil into your hair, scalp, and body, you can alleviate headaches or muscle pain.
3. Hair Health
Lemongrass oil can strengthen your hair follicles, so if you are struggling with hair loss or an itchy and irritated scalp, massage a few drops of lemongrass oil into your scalp for two minutes and then rinse. The soothing and bacteria-killing properties will leave your hair shiny, fresh, and odor free. (2)
4. Natural Bug Repellant
Because of its high citral and geraniol content, lemongrass oil is known to repel bugs such as mosquitoes and ants. This natural repellant has a mild smell and can be sprayed directly on the skin. You can even use lemongrass oil to kill fleas; add about 5 drops of oil to water and create your own spray, then apply the spray to your pet’s coat. (2)
5. Stress Reducer & Sleep Aid
The calming and mild smell of lemongrass oil is known to relieve anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. The sedative and hypnotic properties of lemongrass oil can help to improve the duration and quality of sleep. To relieve stress, create your own lemongrass massage oil or add lemongrass oil to your body lotion.
6. Muscle Relaxer
Lemongrass oil benefits also include pain and ache relief. The oil helps to improve blood circulation, and can therefore relieve muscle spasms, back aches, sprains, and cramps. Try rubbing diluted lemongrass oil on your body or make your own lemongrass oil foot bath. Try some of the DIY recipes below.
Lemongrass oil or tea has been used as a detoxifier in several countries. It is known to detox the digestive tract, liver, kidneys, bladder, and pancreas. Because it works as a diuretic, consuming lemongrass oil will help you to flush harmful toxins out of your body. Keep your system clean by adding lemongrass oil to your soup or tea. Make your own lemongrass tea by infusing lemongrass leaves with boiling water or adding a few drops of essential oil to your tea. (2)
8. Menstrual Cramp Relief
Drinking lemongrass tea is known to help women with menstrual cramps; it can also help with nausea and irritability. Drink two cups of lemongrass tea a day to relieve pain associated with your period.
9. Stomach Protector & Gastric Ulcer Cure
Lemongrass has been known for centuries anecdotally as a cure for stomach distress, gastritis, and gastric ulcers. Now research is catching up with this long known support and cure. (3) Adding lemongrass oil or infused lemongrass water to your tea or soup can treat stomach pains, nausea, diarrhea.
The calming and soothing effects of lemongrass oil has the power to relieve the pain, pressure, or tension that can cause headaches. Try massaging diluted lemongrass oil on your temples and breathe in the relaxing lemony fragrance.
11. Kills Bacteria
The citral and limonene content in lemongrass oil can kill or stifle the growth of bacteria and fungi. This will help you avoid getting infections such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, or other types of fungus. Studies in rats have proved that lemongrass essential oil is an effective antifungal and antibacterial agent. Take advantage of these lemongrass oil benefits by making your own body or foot scrub- you can find the recipe below.
12. Fever Reducer
Consuming lemongrass oil or a lemongrass infusion has been used to reduce fevers. Lab studies have shown that a lemongrass infusion is effective in relieving feverish symptoms.
13. Supports Your Immune System
By allowing nutrients to be absorbed into the body, lemongrass oil boosts your immune system. The oil can be vital in restoring your system and it can help with the proper operation of your organs.
14. Treats Digestive Disorders
Lemongrass oil can help you to relieve pain from gas irritation in the stomach and bowels, and it can remove toxins from the body easily because it increases urination. Lemongrass is helpful in the prevention of gastrointestinal disorders, such as gastric ulcers, because it helps in stimulating the bowel function and it improves digestion. (3)
15. Reduces Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of lemongrass oil comes from the limonene that is present. Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition and it has been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levelsand Parkinson’s disease. (1)
16. Has Antioxidant Effects
Studies have shown that lemongrass oil has the ability to fight off free radicals. One of the main components of lemongrass oil, citral, has been known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, especially early on. These anti-cancer activities are most prevalent in the prevention of skin cancer.
One study found that animals with high cholesterol were given lemongrass oil extract and their numbers diminished drastically. This reaction was found to be based on the dose of lemongrass oil. Consumption of lemongrass oil has shown to sustain healthy levels of triglycerides and reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. This promotes the unobstructed flow of blood in the arteries and will help to protect you against many cardiac disorders. (2)
18. Fights the Flu or Colds
Lemongrass oil can fight bacteria and can help to treat sicknesses such as the common cold, especially when used with a vaporizer. If your body temperature is higher than normal, lemongrass oil can have a cooling effect.
Research, Unique Compounds and Studies
A study done in 2012 tested the effects that lemongrass has as an antibacterial property. Micro-organisms were tested with a disk diffusion method; lemongrass essential oil was added to a staph infection and the results indicated that lemongrass oil disrupted the infection and works as an antimicrobial (or bacteria killing) agent. (4)
One study was done to test the effects that lemongrass oil has on fungal infections and yeast from Candida species. Candida is a fungal infection that can affect the skin, genitals, throat, mouth, and blood. By using disk diffusion tests, lemongrass oil was studied for its antifungal properties, and research shows that lemongrass oil has a potent in vitro activity against Candida.
This study suggests that lemongrass oil does have the power to reduce fungal infections. Early research suggests that drinking lemongrass infusion for 10 days may decrease the symptoms on thrush (a yeast infection in the mouth) in people with HIV/AIDS. (5)
In 2009, researchers tested whether essential oil vapors, made up of lemongrass and geranium, could reduce surface and airborne levels of bacteria. The effects changed depending on the methods used; in a sealed box environment, bacteria growth on seeded plates was reduced by 38% after 20 hours of exposure to the essential oil combination.
In an office environment, an 89% reduction of airborne bacteria took place within 15 hours. This study suggests that lemongrass essential oil can be used as a method of air disinfection. (6)
Another study tested the effects of a lemongrass infusion on rats; the infusion is made by pouring boiling water over dried lemongrass leaves. The infusion was used on the paws of rats in order to test lemongrass as a sedative. The pain-killing activity suggests that lemongrass can be used to soothe irritations on the skin. (7)
The chemical composition of lemongrass essential oil varies according to the geographical origin; the compounds typically include hydrocarbon terpenes, alcohols, ketones, esters and mainly aldehydes. The essential consists of mainly citral.
To take advantage of these amazing lemongrass oil benefits, try making your own recipes or body products. Lemongrass is commonly used in teas, soups and curries; it is also suitable for poultry, fish and seafood. Try adding a 1-2 drops of lemongrass essential oil to my Secret Cucumber Detox Soup Recipe.
You can also add lemongrass essential oil to my Lemon Roasted Cauliflower Recipe and my Sautéed Pesto Mahi Mahi dish. Lemongrass pairs well with any coconut milk based soup such as my Mushroom Soup as well. You can substitute the lemongrass oil for the lemon in these recipes—or add both for more of a citrus and acidic flavor.
You can make your own lemongrass tea by pouring 2 cups of boiling water over 10 leaves. If you are using lemongrass tea to reduce stomach, head, or muscle aches, drink one cup every eight hours or so. You can add a bit of honey, lemon, or a slice of ginger too.
For a super easy DIY insect repellent, try my Homemade Bug Spray; add 40 drops of lemongrass essential oil and the mosquitoes won’t be bothering you anymore.
Some other ways to experience the lemongrass oil benefits is to create your own body scrub. Because this oil is great for creating a soothing and ache-free feeling, combine 10 drops of lemongrass oil with Epsom salt, then add enough coconut oil to saturate the salt. In the shower, rub the scrub all over your body (even on your face) and then rinse.
If your feet have been aching after a long day, make your own foot bath by adding about 10 drops of lemongrass essential oil to warm water. This bath should relieve any muscle pain that you are feeling in your feet and it has antibacterial and antifungal effects too.
Lemongrass Oil Side Effects
Lemongrass is safe for most people when used in food or on the skin.
Some people have experienced toxic side effects after inhaling lemongrass- such as lung problems.
If you have sensitive skin, lemongrass oil may create a rash, discomfort, or even a burning sensation. I suggest you try a small amount on the skin first- just to make sure you have no irritations.
Because lemongrass stimulates menstrual flow, it should not be used by women who are pregnant- as there is a slight chance that this may lead to a miscarriage. I also do not recommend children or nursing mothers use lemongrass essential oil either.
If you are planning to use lemongrass oil on your skin or scalp, I recommend you try diluting it with some water. This will cut back on the chances of skin reactions or irritations.
READ NEXT: 101 Essential Oil Uses and Benefits
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