Aside from smelling fantastic, lemongrass essential oils are fantastically useful for health and have dozens of potential health benefits depending on the strain and how it is used. Lemongrass has been used in traditional medicine from India to Europe, as well as aromatherapy, for millennia and is currently considered to be more of a cosmetic ingredient, though there are serious benefits to including it in foods – primarily teas, where its aromatic properties are highly sought after.
In this article, we’ll be briefly covering the 13 most important benefits of lemongrass essential oil, though these are only 13 of countless benefits. The fact is that there are many factors in the health benefit of lemongrass and we couldn’t possibly cover them all!
What is Lemongrass Essential Oil?
Lemongrass essential oil is a type of pure fat extracted from the lemongrass plant, which refers to a whole family of vegetation of which there are several species which all have their own benefits in different proportions. The plant is dried through the use of traditional steaming or alcohol extraction, then distilled into oil – meaning that it is neither a seed oil nor a plant oil like those we have discussed recently. Lemongrass oil is primarily made from the species native to India and the rest of south Asia, cymbopogon flexuosus.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass Essential Oil
1. Improves Mood
When consumed as a tea or used as a bath oil, lemongrass oil can alter brain chemistry in positive ways, improving mood. This occurs through the reduction of stress and the resting cortisol levels of the body.
2. Fights Infection
Lemongrass oil is anti-microbial when used as a food/tea, as well as when applied directly to the skin. When consumed, it will combat common microbial infections: viruses, bacteria and fungi among others. This means that it fights infections and contributes to health and wellness.
3. Reduces the Symptoms of Fever
Lemongrass is an antipyretic and a febrifuge – this means that it can reduce the symptoms of both regular fevers and ‘high’ fevers associated with serious conditions. This will primarily mean reductions in excessive body temperature and modest effects on recovery, a use for which it has been employed in traditional medicine for years.
4. Can Improve Digestive Health
Lemongrass and its essential oils are known to support digestive health, balancing the environment in the gut and reducing excessive gas production. “Trapped wind” like this can cause serious discomfort and stomachache, so the regular consumption of lemongrass either in food or teas can protect against these symptoms.
5. Supports Kidney Health
Whilst it is a low-level diuretic, lemongrass contributes not only to the frequency of urination, but also the regularity and promotes kidney health. Frequent urination – associated with healthy compounds and good hydration – can ensure that chemicals in the kidneys do not become too concentrated, preventing the development of uric acid stones or kidney cysts. If you’ve ever passed a kidney stone, you know this is a great perk!
6. Nervous System Health
As with many other oils, lemongrass has positive effects on the human nervous system. Not only are healthy fats useful for preventing neurological damage and degradation, but also promotes the proper functioning of the nervous system and can aid in the reduction of many aging-related symptoms. These range from shakiness and poor motor control to Alzheimer’s and the loss of common reflexes. It is important to use dietary habits in youth to prevent developing serious health problems as we age and lemongrass oil can do exactly this.
7. De-stresses and Improves Sleep Quality
Whilst many sedatives are considered to be2 dangerous – especially pharmaceuticals – sedatives can have fantastic uses when used in the right dosage by healthy people. Lemongrass oil is just one such example of a low-level sedative, meaning that it is effective in relaxing the muscles and nervous system (as mentioned above). One of the most important applications of this is the improvements that dietary and topical lemongrass oil can have on sleep quality. Sleep is an unbelievably important time when the body regenerates and heals, meaning that lemongrass can improve these processes by improving sleep quality. This is why it is so common in teas.
8. Improves Perception of Wellbeing
Whilst we are generally skeptical of “health tonics”, lemongrass essential oil does appear to have modest benefits as a general tonic, improving the health and wellbeing of the organs and nervous system. This is likely the source of its main uses in traditional medicines – not only does it have positive effects on the body but it simply makes people feel better! Whilst there is not much scientific value to “feeling” better, it is clearly what people look for in health foods and we consider this to be a benefit despite its ambiguities.
9. Relieves Pain
When applied to areas of pain and/or inflammation, lemongrass oil works as an analgesic, reducing the perception of pain and discomfort. This is obviously a huge benefit since pain happens to be rather unpleasant by definition! Reducing the feeling of aches and pains makes lemongrass a great rubbing oil and has been used to assist the treatment of joint pain, primarily in the elbows and lower back. This is an adjunct treatment, however: it is not a replacement for proper physical therapy or treatment.
10. Disinfectant and Assists in Wound-healing
The application of lemongrass to wounds is also able to improve the rates of healing and reduce the chances of infection. As it is an anti-microbial agent, it drastically reduces the odds of infection through microbes in the damaged and exposed skin. Simply put, lemongrass oil promotes a better environment for the healing of minor cuts and wounds.
11. Reduces Bleeding
Aside from ensuring the proper healing of cuts and other wounds, lemongrass oil can also reduce blood loss from these injuries. When applied as a topical cream to wounds, it appears to restrict blood flow in the area by causing capillaries and other blood vessels to contract. Blood loss can result in dizziness, fainting and increased chances of infection, so applying lemongrass oil can seriously improve health and function after cuts and other mild wounds.
12. Combats Fungal Infections
As we mentioned in the section on dietary uses, lemongrass oil can destroy microbial pathogens. As a topical skin treatment, it can also be used for this purpose – primarily in the treatment of fungal skin conditions. This includes common problems such as athlete’s foot, but applies across the range of fungal infections that can affect the skin. Given that many pharmaceutical approaches can have serious side effects and damage the skin, lemongrass oil presents a great, gentle alternative.
13. Repairs and Conditions Skin and Hair
Above and beyond the specific topical benefits listed above, lemongrass oil is just generally fantastic for skin health and maintenance. The skin has a delicate balance of various oils and nutrients which can be easily disrupted through poor diet, alcohol consumption, weather damage and so forth. Using essential oils directly on the skin can drastically improve condition, feel and long-term health. Whilst the science does not support the specific use of lemongrass as an anti-aging agent, it is a skin moisturizer and this has been proven to improve the elasticity of skin as we age.
Combined with the anti-microbial, disinfectant and stress relief properties mentioned above, this moisturizing effect makes lemongrass oil a great choice. Whilst it is not necessarily better or worse than other oils such as castor or argan, it has a different set of benefits and regular use can significantly improve the health and resilience of the skin.
Where to get Lemongrass Essential Oil
As we already discussed, you can use the same kind of essential oil in both cooking and directly onto the skin/into a bath. It is possible to consume lemongrass oil in many varieties – neat in small quantities, mixed into a tea or simply stirred into warm water or other hot drinks. The aroma of the oil can be very similar to that of the plant. This is a gentle citrus scent and taste and can be very pleasant. We suggest consuming lemongrass later at night due to its sedative properties – it works contrary to caffeine (which inhibits the release of relaxing chemicals such as GABA), meaning that it might not be appropriate for your morning coffee!
As with many other oils that we have written on, lemongrass oil is increasingly popular in health food stores and online. It can be purchased online easily, though it is important to ensure that any essential oils you purchase are from the right plant (cymbopogon flexuosus) and 100% pure. Impurities in the oil will change the effects and there are no real excuses to add “filler” ingredients to essential oil. Especially for topical treatment, it is important to acquire pure oil as other products may contribute to spots and other skin blemishes if they are not properly cleaned.
Side Effects and other Concerns
Lemongrass Essential oil is relatively safe to humans – whilst it is likely to kill microbes and acts as a pesticide, it is mostly just positive for humans. Those who are allergic to lemongrass should obviously avoid this product, and everyone should avoid the product coming into contact with sensitive areas such as the eyes and other orifices. Short of this lack of caution, we recommend lemongrass as a very safe and health product.
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