Medical News Today: Benefits and uses of lemongrass essential oil

Lemongrass essential oil comes from the lemongrass plant, which grows in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. The oil can be bright or pale yellow with a thin consistency and a lemony scent.

People have used lemongrass in traditional medicine for pain relief, stomach problems, and fevers. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties may also give it other benefits.

In this article, learn about the possible benefits of lemongrass essential oil, as well as how to use it, and if it has any side effects.

Benefits

Benefits of lemongrass oil may include:

Fighting bacteria

Lemongrass essential oil
Lemongrass essential oil can help inhibit the growth of bacteria.

The authors of a 2016 in vitro study found lemongrass essential oil to be effective in fighting strains of the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. This multi-drug resistant bacteria can cause pneumonia and blood infections.

As the lemongrass essential oil was effective in inhibiting and killing off the bacteria, it could be a complementary therapy in the future for fighting illnesses that do not respond to antibiotics.

In another study, a concentration of 2% lemongrass essential oil gel inhibited the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease. During this small study, 15 people with multiple sites of gum disease in their mouths took part.

The participants applied the gel to the location of gum disease along with nonsurgical dental therapy. The authors compared the results to a group just using nonsurgical dental therapy.

Lemongrass essential oil and nonsurgical dental therapy increased tissue healing more than nonsurgical dental therapy alone.

Reducing inflammation

Chronic inflammation can cause many health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, and some cancers.

A 2014 study showed lemongrass essential oil to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in mice with fungal infections.

The researchers concluded that, while more studies in humans are necessary, lemongrass essential oil may help treat skin inflammation in the future.

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Combating fungal infections

In the same 2014 study, the researchers looked at the in vitro effects of lemongrass essential oil on specific fungi, including Candida albicans, which is responsible for yeast infections and thrush.

The essential oil had a “promising” antifungal effect, which leads the authors to state that it could have potential use in the treatment of fungal infections. More robust studies in humans are necessary, however, to confirm the effects.

Providing antioxidants

Antioxidants help fight harmful free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, which may help reduce signs of aging and the risk of many diseases.

In a 2015 study, lemongrass was shown to have strong antioxidant properties and was effective in scavenging free radicals in an in vitro experiment.

The authors of an earlier 2011 study also found that lemongrass oil mouthwash had antioxidant effects. The research involved 40 participants, including people with gum inflammation, or gingivitis.

The researchers tested the antioxidant effect of lemongrass oil mouthwash at three different concentration levels and found that is showed antioxidant activity at all concentrations.

These results may make it a useful addition to a regular dental hygiene routine.

Treating stomach issues

Studies suggest that lemongrass oil may help treat stomach issues.
Studies suggest that lemongrass essential oil may help treat stomach issues.

Some research has suggested that lemongrass essential oil might help treat issues affecting the stomach.

A 2012 study on an animal model looked at the effects of lemongrass essential oil on stomach ulcers resulting from ethanol and aspirin damage. Stomach ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach that cause stomach pain.

The study found that lemongrass essential oil provided protection against damage in the stomach and could be a potential remedy for these types of ulcers.

Furthermore, eugenol, which is a component found in lemongrass essential oil, may help relieve pain and treat stomach upsets and diarrhea.

Easing rheumatoid arthritis

Lemongrass essential oil may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2017 study looked at the effects of lemongrass essential oil on 30 people, between 35–70 years old, with rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers gave each person 3 milligrams of lemongrass essential oil to apply for 30 days. Over time, the participants reported less pain.

Relaxation and massage

A popular use for many diluted essential oils is for relaxation and massage.

One study looked at the effects of lemongrass oil when people use it as a massage oil. In the study, researchers measured the participants’ pulse and blood pressure before and after they had a massage with lemongrass oil. Each person received a massage once a week for 3 weeks.

The researchers found that the lemongrass oil massage reduced diastolic blood pressure but had no effect on their systolic blood pressure or pulse. They said it could have a “harmonizing effects” on the nervous system.

Helping headaches

An older study from 2009 argued that lemongrass essential oil might be effective for treating headaches.

While there is limited evidence to support this, lemongrass is a common headache treatment in Australian traditional medicine.


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How to use it

Person putting essential oil into aromatherapy diffuser
To benefit from aromatherapy, a person can try adding lemongrass essential oil to a diffuser.

People can buy lemongrass essential oil online or from a health food store. People should never apply undiluted essential oils on their skin or into their eyes, mouth, or ears.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has approved lemongrass essential oil as safe when people use it correctly. Misusing essential oils is dangerous and can result in poisoning, skin burns, nausea, and illness in pets.

People can add lemongrass essential oil to a carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut oil, and massage it into the skin.

Adding several drops of the essential oil to boiling water and inhaling the steam through the nose, keeping the eyes closed, and covering the head with a towel is another way to use it.

People can also add lemongrass essential oil to an oil diffuser. Oil diffusers are available for purchase in stores and online.

The concentration levels of essential oils when people vaporize them is unlikely to be dangerous for adults. However, people should be cautious about using diffusers around infants, children, pregnant women, or pets.

Essential oils are flammable, so people should take care to keep them away from an open flame.

Do not take lemongrass essential oil orally unless following the guidance of a healthcare professional.


Side effects

Lemongrass essential oil may irritate the skin and cause a rash. To minimize the risk of skin irritation, a person should avoid applying lemongrass essential oil to the skin if:

  • they have allergies or skin conditions, such as eczema
  • they have not diluted the oil first
  • they have broken or damaged skin

To check before use, do a skin patch test on a small area of skin, then wait 24 hours to see if a reaction appears before applying the diluted oil more liberally.

Lemongrass essential oil can also cause dryness and stinging around the eyes, ears, mouth, and other mucous membranes, such as the genital area. For this reason, it is best not to use it on the face or put the oil into bathwater.


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Takeaway

Research suggests lemongrass has many health benefits, often due to its antifungal, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.

Many of the studies on lemongrass essential oil have been in test tubes or animal models, so further research is still necessary to find out more about the benefits of lemongrass essential oil on humans.

People should never apply undiluted essential oil directly to the skin or take the oil orally unless under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Using diluted lemongrass essential oil for massage, steam inhalation, or diffusing may help people relax and benefit from this traditional remedy.

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