Lemongrass essential oil was used exclusively in India for countless generations as a natural healer. It has been in the United States for less than a century but has still managed to become one of the most popular and well known essential oils. While it has many rumored powers of healing, science has only begun to start researching the herb and its oil. Studies are promising so far and many in the essential oil world are happy that lemongrass is finally getting the support that it deserves. Here are some scientific findings about the oil and what it can do for the human body.
Researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, published their findings regarding lemongrass and cholesterol in the medical journal Lipids in 1989. A clinical trial was conducted that involved 22 people, all with high cholesterol. They were instructed to take 140-mg capsules of lemongrass oil each day. The trial did not involve a placebo. Almost all of the participants experienced a decrease in their cholesterol, with the average cholesterol levels lowering from 310 to 294. Other members experienced a much higher drop of 25 in the first month along. By the end of 3 months, some participants experienced a drop of 38 in their cholesterol levels. After the trial had ended, the participants that stopped taking the lemongrass experienced a rise in their cholesterol, with most going back to their original level.
Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel conducted tests that showed lemongrass
has anti cancer properties. Citral, one of the main ingredients of lemongrass, was linked to apoptosis, or the self destruction of cancer cells. Healthy cells were not damaged.
A tea was made with lemongrass. It was then added to petri dishes that contained both cancerous and healthy cells. The cancerous cells all died while the healthy cells remained exactly the same. The findings were published in Planta Medica, a scientific journal. The exact reasoning behind lemongrass and its ingredient citral killing the cancer cells is unknown and further research will be needed. Because studies have not focused on humans yet there is no guarantee that lemongrass will have the safe effect. However, many patients seeking a more holistic treatment experience have started incorporating lemongrass into their daily diet through tea.
The lemongrass tea recipe is as follows.
- 8 large stalks of lemongrass, leaves removed
- 4 x 250 milliliters of water
- 3 tablespoons pure, natural honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Clean and cut the stalks into small pieces. Bruise the stalks slightly to help them release the oil. Add the water and lemongrass to a pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for twenty minutes, or until the water takes on a light yellowish tinge. Let the tea cool to room temperature. Add the honey and lemon juice (more or less to taste). The tea can be consumed hot or cold.
Eight glasses of tea are recommended on days that cancer patients are being treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Capsules containing the oil may be taken instead. Lemongrass should be avoided however by cancer patients whose chemotherapy regimen includes carboplatin.
There is still a significant amount of research needed regarding lemongrass and cancer. Do not treat any disease, especially cancer, with lemongrass unless discussed with your medical practitioner first.
A small test was done to see just how effective lemongrass oil is when used as a bug repellent. A 1% solution, along with a 15% cream, were placed on the skin of a bird. Mosquitoes were released nearby. The findings suggested that the lemongrass solution and cream were comparable to commercial mosquito repellent by exhibiting 50% protection for the bird for nearly 3 hours.
Anti-inflammatory and Anti-fungal
A study was performed in 2014 that focused on lemongrass and the possibility of using it as a treatment for fungal infections and skin inflammation. The oil was evaluated against pathogenic yeasts and fungi in a controlled environment. The oil was effective against Candida albicans (a fungal infection of the mouth or genital region), Candida tropicalis and Aspergillus niger. The conclusion of the study stated that lemongrass essential oil has potential for the development of drugs that would treat certain infections. More research is needed though.
A study was conducted on Swiss albino mice in 2014 to see if lemongrass could be a potential treatment for depression. The mice were split into 10 groups and were given different types of anti-depression medication. One group was given lemongrass. Tests were then conducted that measured the
reactions by the mice to several activities. The study concluded that the lemongrass had significant anti-depressant activity when compared to other drugs, including Imaprimine (a common prescribed antidepressant and anxiety reliever).
Studies have been conducted on lemongrass oil that focused on other ailments but yielded inconsistent results and therefore the oil is not currently listed as a possible treatment to the following conditions. It should be noted though that many people still benefit from lemongrass oil while suffering from these ailments.
- treatment of cellulite
- treatment of varicose and spider veins
- treatment of stomach ulcers
- treatment of urinary tract infections
Essential oils are a type of medication and the same precautions should be taken when using them. Lemongrass can interact with other medications. If there is any question as to whether or not you should use lemongrass oil, speak with your doctor first.
- Lemongrass may increase the absorption of medicated creams through the skin.
- Lemongrass may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with aspirin, anticoagulants or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Lemongrass may lower blood pressure. If drugs are taken that affect the heart, lemongrass should be avoided unless otherwise approved.
- Lemongrass may lower blood sugar levels. If drugs are taken that affect blood sugar, lemongrass should be avoided unless otherwise approved.
- Lemongrass may interact with pain reducers, antibiotics, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering agents, diuretics and vasodilators.
- Lemongrass should be avoided in pregnant and breastfeeding women.