What is Lemongrass Oil?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Lemongrass oil is extracted from a perennial grass native to India. There are many species of lemongrass plants. The oil, however, is commonly extracted from the West Indian lemongrass or Eastern Indian lemongrass. This oil has many medicinal properties, which include it being an astringent, bactericidal, and nervous system sedative. It is used to treat ailments such as headaches, jet lag, and depression.

Although lemongrass is still widely linked to India, the plant can be found growing in Africa, Asia, and South America. The plant is characterized by long, thin leaves that commonly grow between 3 feet (1 m) to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. It is from these leaves that the lemongrass oil is extracted.

The oil is produced by a method known as steam distillation. This method involves boiling the plants and collecting the oil from the condensation. When this is done, the oil that is collected is in a condensed and powerful form. Lemongrass oil often appears watery and may range in color from dark yellow to amber. It has a distinct lemony smell that is commonly described as revitalizing.


The chemical components of lemongrass oil will vary depending on the species of the plant it was extracted from. However, citral is one of the primary chemical ingredients in all lemongrass plants. Citral plays the biggest role in making the oil aromatic. This chemical is also highly antimicrobial, providing a good explanation for the use of the oil to treat infections such as athlete’s foot.

Lemongrass oil, often found in soaps and perfumes, is used for many beauty purposes. It can help treat oily skin and combat acne if it is applied topically or used in a steamer. The oil has been included in lotions and massage oils and applied to the skin to help eliminate cellulite. Furthermore, lemongrass oil is also hailed for its deodorant properties and its ability to prevent excessive perspiration.

Lemongrass oil is considered non-toxic. This does not mean, however, that caution should not be exercised when using it. The oil has a reputation for irritating sensitive skin. It may cause sensitivity in people with allergies. Pregnant women are advised to completely avoid topical use of the oil.

The benefits, however, range far beyond aesthetics. Lemongrass is also widely respected for its effects on the nervous system. It is often prescribed as a natural remedy for depression, jet lag, and anxiety. It can also be used to fight colds. When the oil is needed for these purposes, it is common to use oil burners or bamboo vaporizers.


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