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Lemongrass Oil Can Lighten Up Your Mood and More

Lemongrass Oil

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  • Lemongrass oil is a great addition to various skin care, cosmetic and industrial products such as soaps, lotions, creams and detergents. It is also known for its ability to repel insects, such as mosquitoes and ants, due to its high citral and geraniol content

You may have tasted the refreshingly mild flavor of lemongrass, an herb that's commonly added to foods and beverages. But have you ever tried using lemongrass oil, an all-around herbal oil with many health benefits? Keep on reading to discover more about lemongrass oil.

What Is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) is a tall perennial plant from the Poaceae grass family, which thrives in tropical and subtropical regions such as India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China and Guatemala.1,2 This plant grows in dense clumps and has bright green, sharp-edged leaves, similar to grass.

Lemongrass is a popular flavoring in Asian cooking. Considered as an essential herb, it is added to curries and soups, or paired with beef, fish, poultry and seafood. Fresh lemongrass is also used to make lemongrass tea.3

Among the 55 species of lemongrass,4 two varieties most popularly used today are Cymbopogon citratus and Cymbopogon flexuosus. While they can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more popularly known in medicinal and culinary applications, while C. flexuosus is more dominant in industrial applications such as perfumery.5

Uses of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is extracted from the dried leaves of the plant. It has a thin consistency and a pale or bright yellow color.6

Lemongrass oil is a great addition to various skin care, cosmetic and industrial products such as soaps, lotions, creams and detergents.7 It also works as an air freshener and deodorizer, especially when blended with other essential oils like geranium, peppermint, cedarwood, helichrysum, ylang ylang, and conifers like spruce, fir and pine.8 These blends may simply be put it in an oil burner, diffuser or vaporizer.

Lemongrass oil is also known for its ability to repel insects such as mosquitoes and houseflies due to its high citral and geraniol content.9 You may spray it around your home, diffuse it or rub a diluted mixture on your skin.

Lemongrass oil's fresh, lemony and earthy scent10 makes it a valuable aromatherapeutic oil. Its calming aroma helps relieve stress and nervous exhaustion, and helps alleviate headaches.11 Lemongrass oil can also help relax and tone your muscles, as well as relieve muscle pain, rheumatism, stomachache, toothache12 and period cramps.13 Here are some ways to use lemongrass oil:

Make a refreshing footbath  Add four to six drops to a bowl of warm water, and soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes.14

Make a massage oil — Mix six drops of lemongrass oil with an ounce of sweet almond oil.15

Create a natural insect repellent for dogs Lemongrass is one of the best natural insect repellents. You can mix lemongrass oil with water or carrier oil and rub a small amount of the mixture on your dog’s coat. You may also apply a few drops to your pet’s collar and shampoo.16

Blend it with your favorite bath products or add a few drops to your bath water — Mix it with a carrier oil before incorporating into your bath or body lotion.17

Composition of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil's main compounds include geranyl acetate, geranial, myrcene, nerol, undecyne, neral and juniper camphor.18 These are known to have antifungal, antiseptic, insecticidal and counterirritant properties.19

The quality of lemongrass oil may be determined by its citral content,20 which is its main chemical constituent.21 Citral is known for its antimicrobial effects and may help suppress the growth of bacteria and fungi.22 Limonene, one of lemongrass' beneficial compounds, is known to help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.23

5 Benefits of Lemongrass Oil

benefits of lemongrass oil

Lemongrass oil has antimicrobial, antiseptic, tonic, sedative, fungicidal, antidepressant,24 analgesic25 and carminative26 properties, making it one of the most versatile and health-promoting essential oils. It works well for:

InflammationLemongrass is an analgesic that may help reduce pain and inflammation through its citral content. A 2005 study noted that lemongrass oil is one of the top six essential oils with anti-inflammatory benefits.27

Infections — Lemongrass oil contains both antifungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it a good holistic treatment option. A 1996 Phytotherapy Research study found that lemongrass oil-infused creams have an antifungal effect against dermatophytes or pathogenic fungi such as T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes and E. floccosum.28

In a 2008 study at Weber State University in Utah, it was found that out of 91 essential oils tested, lemongrass ranked one of the highest in inhibitory activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.29

Fever — Popularly known in Asian cultures as “fever grass,” lemongrass may be taken orally in small amounts. It may be used in footbaths to significantly lower down temperatures.30

Digestive issues — A 2006 North-Eastern Hill University study found that lemongrass extracts have antidiarrheal effects comparable to loperamide, a common drug prescribed for loose stools. Lemongrass intake was also found to decrease fecal production during an episode of diarrhea by about 53.44 percent.31 A 2012 study also found that lemongrass essential oil may help alleviate gastric damage caused by ethanol.32

Gingivitis and periodontitis – A 2011 study found that lemongrass oil may help fight oxidative stress, which may cause gingivitis and periodontitis. Using lemongrass oil-infused mouthwash showed significant antioxidant activity in all three concentration levels.33

How to Make a Lemongrass Oil Infusion

Most unrefined essential oils sold in the market today are made through steam distillation. But if you have lemongrass growing in your backyard, you can easily make this oil by infusing it with a carrier oil. Here's a simple method from eHow:34

Infused Lemongrass Oil

Ingredients:

2 or more lemongrass stalks

Fine cheesecloth

Mortar and pestle or rolling pin

Carrier oil (virgin coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil or any unscented natural oil)

Two quart jars

Dark-colored glass containers with lids

Procedure:

1. Get two lemongrass stalks and crush them using the mortar and pestle. This will help release the oil. A rolling pin is an effective substitute if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.

2. Place the crushed stalks inside the jar and add carrier oil until stalks are covered. Seal the jar with an airtight lid and place in a sunny location for two days. Make sure that the spot gets enough sunlight and heat throughout the day.

3. After two days, strain the lemongrass oil using a cheesecloth.

4. Repeat step 1. Add the crushed stalks to the second jar, and then place back under the sun for two more days.

5. Repeat these steps as necessary, until your oil reaches your desired level of potency. You can determine this by smelling the mixture.

6. Once you've reached the desired potency, drain the oil again using a cheesecloth and transfer the oil in dark bottles for storage. Fasten the lids tightly and store in a cool, dark place.

How Does Lemongrass Oil Work?

Lemongrass oil is a tonic that may help influence and keep the systems in your body working properly, including the respiratory, digestive, nervous and lymphatic systems. Generally, its scent may help refresh your body, mind and emotions.35

Lemongrass oil can be diffused using a vaporizer, inhaled, applied topically or ingested. To ensure the efficiency of lemongrass oil, you should use it depending on the health condition that you want to improve.

For example, if you want to get rid of stress and anxiety, diffuse the oil using a vaporizer. You may also pour one to three drops of lemongrass oil on a cotton ball or smell strip that you can gently inhale.36 But if you want to relieve muscle pain or use it to help alleviate infections, it's better to massage a diluted solution on the affected areas.37

For internal health ailments such as digestive issues, lemongrass oil may be diluted in tea, soup or smoothie.38 However, I do not recommend taking this oil orally without the supervision of a qualified health care provider.

Is Lemongrass Oil Safe?

Lemongrass oil is generally safe as long as it is used in small amounts and properly blended with a carrier oil. Undiluted lemongrass can actually burn and irritate your skin39 due to its high citral content, so it's best to mix it with a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil. I advise doing a patch test before applying lemongrass oil on your skin to determine any adverse reaction.

Side Effects of Lemongrass Oil

Rashes,40 skin irritation, discomfort and a burning sensation are some topical side effects experienced by people with sensitivity to lemongrass oil.41 Using the oil may also alter your blood glucose, so people with diabetes should seek medical advice before consuming this oil.42

I do not recommend the use of lemongrass extract and oil for children, pregnant women or nursing moms. Those with liver or kidney disease and other health conditions should also consult their physician before using lemongrass oil.

+ Sources and References