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A Comprehensive Guide to Lemongrass: Benefits & Essential Oil

Lemongrass is an aromatic grass, native to India; it belongs to the family Gramineae and the genus Cymbopogon.

Ayurvedic practitioners in India have used Lemongrass medicinally for thousands of years, although the first recorded distillation of Lemongrass occurred in 1799 in The Phillippines.

Table of Contents:

Before we look at the medicinal benefits of Lemongrass, it’s worth pointing out that there are two main kinds:

East Indian (Cymbopogon flexuosus.) & West Indian (Cymbopogon citratus).

For the purpose of this article and because most Lemongrass essential oils, teas, and powders are made from it, we’re going to focus exclusively on the West Indian variety.

Just know that today the majority of West Indian Lemongrass is cultivated and extracted in Central and South America.

How is Lemongrass Good for You?

Along with being used in a wide variety of dishes, Lemongrass is also a powerful medicinal herb.

Let’s get into it!

Lemongrass Essential Oil Benefits

There is arguably no better essential oil than Lemongrass essential oil.

  1. It’s remarkably inexpensive.
  2. It’s loaded with anti-microbial & anti-oxidant compounds.
  3. It’s usually extracted by steam diffusion instead of using harsh chemicals.
Lemongrass is a mosquito repellent graphic

And this isn’t just folklore; hard data backs up the claim that Lemongrass is a highly effective mosquito repellent.

  1. This 2002 paper published in Phyto Medicine tested the bite deterrence of Lemongrass oil on bird’s skin. Researchers found that both the 1% solution & the 15% cream and oil preparations from the Lemongrass essential oil resulted in ≥ 50% repellency which lasted up to 3 hours.
anti bacterial effects of lemongrass essential oil

Ancient Ayurvedic medicine practitioners used Lemongrass as an anti-bacterial agent and now we have the science to show that they hit the nail on the head!

  1. This 2010 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine found that Lemongrass oil was effective for the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
lemongrass anti oxidant benefits
  1. A 2013 study published in the International Food Research Journal found that essential oils extracted from both Lemongrass and Citronella Grass showed anti-oxidant properties.
  2. A 1998 study tested 8 different essential oils to find which ones had antimicrobial or antioxidant properties; the study found that Lemongrass has both properties.

Lemongrass’s Medicinal Chemical Constituents

A wonderful 2005 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed various Methanol and water extractions of Lemongrass for free radical scavenging & anti-oxidant chemical constituents.

It found that lemongrass contains the following power-player antioxidants:

Lemongrass chemical constituents graphic
  1. Isoorientin
  2. isoscoparin
  3. swertiajaponin
  4. isoorientin 2‘ ‘-O-rhamnoside

Many of these compounds are often sold as supplements in and of themselves. With a chemical makeup like this, it’s no mystery as to why Lemongrass is such a popular and effective essential oil.

Lemongrass Tea

One of my favorite beverage combinations is green tea with Lemongrass. Lemongrass adds a very nice citrusy flavor and aroma while the highly oxidized green tea is much more mellow.

green tea & lemongrass green tea

The two herbs work together in blissful harmony; you also get a nice, calming buzz as both green tea and Lemongrass are loaded with L-theanine, various beneficial Catechins, and a little bit of caffeine.

If you’re not one for tea-bags and instead prefer loose-leaf tea – I can’t blame you – I’m partial to this Tealyra’s loose leaf selection.

loose leaf lemongrass tea

Lemongrass Tea Recipe

Alright, so you’re not into tea bags and you’re not into loose-leaf tea… that’s fine! How about some homemade Lemongrass tea using fresh Lemongrass stalks?

Simply bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lemongrass stalks and let them boil for 5 – 10 minutes, let the stalks simmer and bam… you have a homemade lemongrass tea!

It’s that easy.

Lemongrass Dishes & Recipes

Are you still not impressed with Lemongrass? Well, how about a few delicious traditional Lemongrass recipes to change your tune?

Afterall, Lemongrass has been used in traditional southeast Asian dishes for centuries.

  1. epiccurious has provided an amazing list of 43 Lemongrass recipes.
  2. saveur has 16 new and original lemongrass dishes as well.
  3. bonappetit has another long list of lemongrass dishes.

How to Grow Lemongrass

lemongrass growing
Lemongrass grows up to 6′ tall and has sharp ends!

Once again, in this article, we’re focused on West Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus); growing East Indian Lemongrass is a whole nother ballgame for a whole nother article!

First off, it should be noted that Lemongrass can be grown easily with a hydroponic set-up – check out this article and take a look at the Ebb & Flow Technique which is ideal for various large shrubs.

Growing Lemongrass traditionally is fairly easy as well.

If you’re starting with just the plant slips, you’ll want to use plenty of water and a loose, well-plowed soil; dig rooting holes roughly 7 – 9 inches deep and make sure to cut off the very top of the roots before planting.

Remember, the best environment for growing Lemongrass is in humid/tropical zones, although you can generally grow it in most cold climates as long as you begin planting in summer.

Best Lemongrass Essential Oils

As I mentioned above, studies have shown that Lemongrass essential oil acts as an insect repellent and works well as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant agent.

Important: Only buy essential oils that have been extracted using steam distillation.

Crude extraction chemicals can destroy the chemical purity of natural plant oil and potentially harm you in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some high-quality Lemongrass essential oil offerings.

I’ve used Majestic Pure Lemongrass essential oil many times in the past and I have nothing but good things to say about it.

lemongrass essential oil graphic

The oil is extracted through steam distillation from fresh, dried Lemongrass leaves.

Keep in mind, this oil is only for external use; rub a drop of it onto your arm to test for any allergic reactions before going deep!

Ill effects from essential oils are extremely rare but can still happen – be cautious!

Personally, I use the oil as an anti-oxidant as I don’t usually have problems with bug-bites or mosquitoes. Let us know if you find fewer mosquitoes hovering around you after a few dabs!

lemongrass essential oil

This ArtNaturals Lemongrass Essential Oil is slightly less expensive than Majestic’s offering and is still of high quality.