Lemongrass Essential Oils
Lemongrass essential oil is an emollient extract from the Cymbopogon family of plants, which are native to the humid tropical climates of India, South East Asia, Australia, North Africa, Central America and South America. While there are approximately 45 different species of the plant, the oils are usually steam-distilled from the dried leaves of the ambiguous, citratus, flexuosus, nardus, palmarosa, proximus and schoenanthus variants of the genus. Collectively, they are typically referred to as lemongrass owing to their natural earthy citrus smell.
Aside from its popularity as a cooking ingredient, the plant is also highly valued for its medicinal properties, as well as its unique ability to lure honey bees for beekeepers and bee farmers.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LEMONGRASS ESSENTIAL OIL
Lemongrass essential oil has long been used in folk medicine to treat ailments ranging from skin infection and joint pains to stress management and digestive issues, and as a disinfectant. In recent years, several studies have empirically proven the beneficial medical properties of the substance.
Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
A 2010 Japanese joint-study by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition of Nara Women’s University and Department of Bioengineering of Akita Research Institute of Food and Brewing identified that lemongrass oil suppresses COX-2 expression and activates PPARalpha and gamma in cell-based transfection assays which collectively demonstrates the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of lemongrass essential oil.
Treatment in Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes
In a study published by a team from three Austrian universities (University of Vienna, University of Innsbruck and University of Graz) in Biochemical Pharmacology (Volume 92, Issue 1) in July 2014, Natural product agonists of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)’, researchers suggest that lemongrass essential oil is capable of improving the metabolic parameters in diabetic animal models with reduced side effects in comparison to full thiazolidinedione agonists. In layman’s term, there is evidence to suggest that lemongrass extracts is more effective in treating diabetes and normalization of blood glucose levels compared to conventional drugs. While further research is obviously warranted, the finding is staggering, to say the least.
Phytomedicine in psychiatric treatments
In a 2006 report (Plants with possible psychoactive effects used by the Krahô Indians, Brazil) the Department of Psychobiology of Sao Paulo State University revealed that Cymbopogon citratus is an effective agent in the treatment of anxiety and nervousness after observing its positive effect in calming agitated patients. In a follow up experiment three years later by the university’s Department of Pharmacology, researchers conclude that lemongrass extracts are also capable of increasing sleeping time.
The Department of Biotechnology of Amravati University, India, in a 2008 study, demonstrated the effectiveness of lemongrass oil in combating Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus niger, the two most common fungal agents affecting humans. Researches went on to note that their research supports that oils can be used to cure mycotic infections.
COMMON PRODUCT USAGE TIPS
As a mosquito or insect repellant
Mix the lemongrass essential oil and water inside a spray bottle and spray your surroundings at leisure. This is the perfect mosquito and insect repellant when sitting outdoors over the summer. You can even use it in the house. As a bonus, the wonderful and uplifting aroma will sooth nerves all around.
- Dog Fleas No More
A great way to keep fleas away from your beloved dog is to mix a few drops of the essential oil into your dog shampoo. Not only will your pooch smell great, it will also stay healthy and fleas-free.
- Stress-Free, Relaxing Home
If you have an electric oil heater lying at home, just dribble a few drops of the lemongrass essential oil on the filter. Within minutes, your entire home will be enveloped in a pleasant aroma that will dispel away stress, enhance calmness and make falling asleep easier.
- Athletes’ Foot
Wash your feet with water mixed with lemongrass oil and dry it off. Repeat the process daily for a few weeks and say goodbye to smelly feet.
- Rash and Cuts
Lemongrass essential oil is a great reliever for small cuts and rashes (including nappy rashes). Just mix a few drops with some mild carrier oils like almond or aloe vera oil, and apply it directly to the sore area. Make sure the area is cleaned first before application.
- Stress-Free, Relaxing Home
Lemongrass essential oil consists chiefly of three active ingredients: Geraniol, Levamisol and p Anisaldehyde.
Geraniol, which comprises up to 67.7% of the compound, is a powerful organic alcohol and monoterpenoid. It is heavily used as a flavoring agent in commercial fruit juices such as grapefruit, watermelon, orange, raspberry and peach. It is however an extremely poor flammable liquid.
Levamisol is a type of hydrochloride salt that is used in drugs for treatments of skin infections and several forms of cancer.
Anisaldehyde, meanwhile, is a compound that is used extensively in perfumery manufacturing.
HOW TO IDENTIFY GOOD LEMONGRASS ESSENTIAL OIL
Owing the prevalence of lemongrass in supermarket aisles, it is actually quite easy to identify good quality lemongrass oil as people can recognize its smell instantly. The light, tangy and earthy citrusy smell of lemongrass is difficult to replicate, so you can immediately spot diluted or flavored ones. Adding chemical aromas also turn the solution less oleaginous.
The oil should always be kept inside dark glass or plastic containers and kept, ideally, in darkened locations. Keeping them cupboards and shelves, preferably under room temperature, will prolong their lifespan up to two years.
While the oil is not dangerous if consumed internally with tea or food, only do so under supervision. Consult a qualified medical professional if there are any allergic reactions when the oil comes into contact with your skin.