These notes were originally prepared for two
short CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
"essential oils refresher" sessions which I led for
Professional Aromatherapy Network in South Yorkshire. I would
be glad to lead such sessions for other groups, e.g.
local/regional IFPA or IFA branches.
For list of other essential oil profiles see
To buy organic lemongrass oil visit the ONLINE
Cymbopogon Citratus or Flexuosus
Although many sources use the two botanical names
interchangeably, Charles Wells states that there are two
distinct varieties, Citratus and Flexuosus, and that Citratus
(West Indian Lemongrass) contains the analgesic active compound
myrcene, while Flexuosus (East Indian Lemongrass) does not (1).
Some commercial oil is also distilled from C. Pendulus.
Origin Julia Lawless says the West Indian (Citratus),
though probably native to Sri Lanka, is now cultivated in the
West Indies, Africa, and tropical Asia, with Guatemala and India
among main producers. East Indian, though native to East India,
is now mainly cultivated in West India! Is that clear!? Comes
from the same family (Gramineae) as vetiver, citronella,
palmarosa (2). The plant can grow to three feet high or more
Extraction Steam distillation of chopped
fresh and partially dried leaves (grass) (2).
History Traditional Indian medicine uses lemongrass for
fever and infectious illness. Also used as insecticide and food
flavouring (2). “Monoterpene citral as the major constituent
(75%) finds uses as flavouring agents, and in perfumery and
pharmaceutical industry and as a natural precursor of
semisynthetic vitamin A” (4). Flexuosus is often preferred by
the perfume industry as it contains less myrcene and, therefore,
has a longer shelf life (5). Grass used in Asian cuisine. Oil,
or citral extracted from it, used to adulterate melissa and
Contra-indications Tisserand & Balacs give glaucoma
(oral administration only), prostatic hyperplasia, and caution
for dermal administration for hypersensitive, diseased, or
damaged skin, and children under 2 years of age. They suggest a
possible hormonal effect based on animal experiments, but mostly
at levels well above those used in aromatherapy. Citral in
isolation can induce sensitisation reactions, but usually this
effect does not carry over into the oil, presumably due to the
actions of other components, though it is still possible in rare
instances (6). Martin Watt says “there are a few reports of skin
irritation caused by hypersensitivity or prolonged exposure to
the concentrated oil and sensitisation may occur. Vesicular
dermatitis appeared in eight workers exposed to a cargo of
lemongrass oil and the NEAT oil is a skin irritant” (7).
Chemistry Citratus - citral 65-85%,
myrcene 12-25%, dipentene, linalool, geraniol and others.
Flexuosus – includes citral up to 85%, geraniol, methyl eugenol,
Blending Suggestions Usually listed as top
note but I wonder if more top to middle. Strong smell. Colour
yellow to amber to reddish-brown. Basil, benzoin, bergamot,
black pepper, camomile German, camomile roman, cardamom,
cedarwood Virginian, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress,
elemi, eucalyptus, fennel, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit,
ho wood, jasmine, juniper berry, lavender, lemon, lime,
mandarin, marjoram, melissa, neroli, orange, patchouli,
peppermint, petitgrain, pine needle, ravensara, rose, rosemary,
rosewood, tea tree, thyme.
Major Properties Analgesic (citratus),
antifungal, anti-inflammatory?, antiseptic, astringent?,
bactericidal, deodorant, insecticidal, vasodilator?, stimulant?,
Uses Stress related
disorders, nervous exhaustion, anger and frustration, uplifts
and refreshes. headaches, jet lag.
Fevers, immune stimulant?, infectious illnesses
Muscular aches and pains, poor circulation, poor muscle tone,
Colitis, indigestion, digestive tonic, gastro-enteritis,
Acne, athlete's foot, blackheads, cellulite?, excessive
perspiration, hydrolipid retention, insect repellent, lice, oily
skin, open pores, scabies?, tones tissues.
BACK TO TOP
Essentially Oils Newsletter Jan. 1996. “Prompted by an
article by Bob Harris and Rhiannon Lewis of the Natural
Therapies Database U.K. - 'Lemongrass and its Use in Aromatic
2) Julia Lawless, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Element,
Shaftesbury, 1992, p.120.
http://www.57aromas.com/aug2003.html, May 2004.
4) Cymbopogon : The Aromatic Grass Monograph, ed. Sushil Kumar,
Samresh Dwivedi, A.K. Kukreja, J.R. Sharma and G.D. Bagchi.
Lucknow, Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants,
2000, quoted at
https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no21297.htm May 2004.
Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages, May 2004.
6) Robert Tisserand, & Tony Balacs, Essential Oil Safety,
Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1995, pp. 146-7.
7) Martin Watt, Plant Aromatics, Set 4, p.76 (undated);
referring to H. Mendelsohn, Arch. Derm. Syph. 1944, 50, 34
and1946, 53, 94;
Other sources for information, present and past;
books, articles or other material by Patricia Davis/London
School of Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood, Shirley Price,
Robert Tisserand. International Journal of Aromatherapy.
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Paul Boizot. Information revised 04.06.04. Page
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