Drugs A - Z
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon spp.)
Generic Name: Lemongrass
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Abafado (Portuguese), alpha-citral, alpha-terpineole, Andropogon citratus, Andropogon nardus, bai mak nao (Lao), beta-citral (neral), beta-myrcene, bhustrina (Indian), British Indian lemongrass, capim-cidrao, Ceylon citronella grass, citral, Cochin lemongrass, Cymbopogon ambiguus, Cymbopogon citrates, Cymbopogon citratus DC, Cymbopogon excavatus, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon goeringii, Cymbopogon martinii, Cymbopogon nardus, Cymbopogon proximus, Cymbopogon schoenanthus L., Cymbopogon winterianus, East Indian lemongrass, erba di limone (Italian), essência de capim-limão (Portuguese), farnesol, fever grass, geraniol, geranium grass, geranyl acetate, Graminaeae (family), Guatemala lemongrass, Halfa barr, herbe de citron (French), hierba de limon (Spanish), java citronella, lemon grass, lemon grass extract (LGE), lemongrass oil, lemongrass stalk, lemon herbs, Madagascar lemongrass, Melissa grass, myrcene, palmarosa, pinene, piperitone, Poaceae (family), proximadiol, Santalum acuminatum, sera (Indian, Sinhalese), serai (Malay), sere (Indonesian), sereh (Indonesian), Sudanese flora, takrai (Thai), terpene beta-myrcene, West Indian lemongrass, Zitronengras (German).
Note: This review does not include citronella oil or stone root.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates) is used in Cuban folk medicine to lower high blood pressure and as an anti-inflammatory. In India, lemongrass is used as a medicinal herb and in perfumes. It is also used in Brazilian folk medicine in a tea called "abafado" as a sedative, for gastrointestinal problems, and for fever. Lemongrass oil is a yellow/brown oil with a tinge of red. It has a fresh, strong, lemon-like and pungent odor with herbal and leaf aspects. Lemongrass oil is an essential oil used in deodorants, herbal teas, skin care products, fragrances, insect repellents, and for aromatherapy.
Currently, there is very little scientific evidence investigating the use of lemongrass in humans and more evidence is needed to make strong recommendations for its use as a sedative or for lowering high cholesterol. Lemongrass is not approved by the German Commission E, but does have generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol):
Early research has not shown any effect of lemongrass on serum cholesterol. However, more research is warranted in this area.
Lemongrass is used in Brazilian folklore for nervous disturbances; however, early study of lemongrass has not confirmed this use. More research is warranted in this area.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abdominal pain, acne, analgesic (pain relieving), antibacterial, anticoagulant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antineoplastic (antitumor), antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive (relieving cough), appetite stimulant, aromatherapy, arthritis, astringent, athlete's foot, bee stings, body fat reducer (cellulite), body odor, bruises, cancer, cardiovascular health (cardiac rate), cholera, circulation, colitis, common cold, connective tissue disorder (strengthening and detoxifying), convulsions, cough, cramps, detoxification, diabetes, digestion, diuretic, emmenagogue (promotes menstruation), exhaustion, excessive perspiration, fatigue, fever, flavoring, food additive, fragrance, gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach), gastrointestinal disorders, genetic damage, halitosis (bad breath), headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), infections, intestinal parasites, insecticide, insect repellant, irritability, jet lag, lactation stimulation, laryngitis, lymph flow enhancement, musculoskeletal pain, nausea, nervous exhaustion, neuralgia (nerve pain), pain, parasites (skin), radiation protection, rheumatism, ringworm, SARS, scabies, skin conditions (enlarged pores), skin toner, sleep, sore throat, stimulant, stomach spasms, stress, immunomodulator (T-lymphocyte activator), tonic, vasodilator, vomiting.
Adults (over 18 years old)
Based on the available scientific evidence, there is no proven safe or effective dose of lemongrass for adults. However, 1-2 teaspoons of lemongrass in 6 ounces of boiling water as a tea has been used. Also, 2 grams of lemongrass herb, cut and powdered into one cup of boiling water, have been used. For hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), 140 milligrams of lemongrass oil in a capsule once a day for 90 days has been used for hypercholesterolemia with no significant benefit.
Children (under 18 years old)
Based on the available scientific evidence, there is no proven safe or effective dose of lemongrass for children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid lemongrass in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to lemongrass. Lemongrass and other essential oils, both applied on the skin and taken as a tea, may cause allergic contact skin reactions.
Side Effects and Warnings
In general, a common side effect of lemongrass oil is rash. Lemongrass may also cause irritation and burning if not properly diluted when used on the skin. There are very few reported side effects; however, this may be due to the lack of scientific evidence.
Lemongrass may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Lemongrass may cause slight increases in liver function tests, particularly bilirubin, or an increase in pancreatic tests, particularly amylase. Patient with liver conditions should use lemongrass with caution.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to lack of sufficient human data. Early scientific evidence is conflicting and some chemical compounds found in lemongrass (beta-myrcene) may cause decreased birth weight, increased perinatal mortality, and delay in development when taken at high doses. However, an infusion of lemongrass leaves did not show any toxic or harmful effects. More research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Interactions with Drugs
Lemongrass may lower blood pressure and should be used cautiously with other drugs that alter blood pressure. Also, caution is advised in patients taking drugs that affect the heart as this combination may alter the effects of the drug or cause unwanted side effects.
Lemongrass may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Lemongrass may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Individuals using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Lemongrass may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Lemongrass may lower blood pressure and should be used cautiously with other herbs and supplements that alter blood pressure. Also, caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that affect the heart as this combination may alter the effects of the herb or cause unwanted side effects.
Lemongrass may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ashley Brigham, PharmD (Northeastern University); J. Kathryn Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); James Ceurvels, PharmD (Northeastern University); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine DeFranco Kirkwood, MPH, CCCJS-MAC (MD Anderson Cancer Center); Audrey Nealon, PharmD (Northeastern University); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Bankole SA, Joda AO, Ashidi JS. The use of powder and essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus against mould deterioration and aflatoxin contamination of "egusi" melon seeds. J Basic Microbiol. 2005;45(1):20-30.
Duarte MC., Figueira GM, Sartoratto A, et al. Anti-Candida activity of Brazilian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2-28-2005;97(2):305-311.
Dudai N, Weinstein Y, Krup M, et al. Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Med 2005;71(5):484-488.
El Kamali HH, Hamza MA, El Amir MY. Antibacterial activity of the essential oil from Cymbopogon nervatus inflorescence. Fitoterapia 2005;76(5):446-449.
Fuentes JL, Alonso A, Cuetara E, et al. Usefulness of the SOS Chromotest in the study of medicinal plants as radioprotectors. Int J Radiat.Biol 2006;82(5):323-329.
Heimerdinger A, Olivo CJ, Molento MB, et al. [Alcoholic extract of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) on the control of Boophilus microplus in cattle]. Rev Bras.Parasitol.Vet. 2006;15(1):37-39.
Ketoh GK, Koumaglo HK, Glitho IA, et al. Comparative effects of Cymbopogon schoenanthus essential oil and piperitone on Callosobruchus maculatus development. Fitoterapia 7-16-2006;
Lalko J, Api AM. Investigation of the dermal sensitization potential of various essential oils in the local lymph node assay. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44(5):739-746.
Pawar VC, Thaker VS. In vitro efficacy of 75 essential oils against Aspergillus niger. Mycoses 2006;49(4):316-323.
Rabbani SI, Devi K, Khanam S, Zahra N. Citral, a component of lemongrass oil inhibits the clastogenic effect of nickel chloride in mouse micronucleus test system. Pak.J Pharm Sci 2006;19(2):108-113.
Raybaudi-Massilia RM, Mosqueda-Melgar J, Martin-Belloso O. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils on Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, and Listeria innocua in fruit juices. J Food Prot. 2006;69(7):1579-1586.
Rim IS, Jee CH. Acaricidal effects of herb essential oils against Dermatophagoides farinae and D. pteronyssinus (Acari: Pyroglyphidae) and qualitative analysis of a herb Mentha pulegium(pennyroyal). Korean J Parasitol. 2006;44(2):133-138.
Tampieri MP, Galuppi R, Macchioni F, et al. The inhibition of Candida albicans by selected essential oils and their major components. Mycopathologia 2005;159(3):339-345.
Tchoumbougnang F, Zollo PH, Dagne E, Mekonnen Y. In vivo antimalarial activity of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus and Ocimum gratissimum on mice infected with Plasmodium berghei. Planta Med 2005;71(1):20-23.
Wannissorn B, Jarikasem S, Siriwangchai T, Thubthimthed S. Antibacterial properties of essential oils from Thai medicinal plants. Fitoterapia 2005;76(2):233-236.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.