(DC.) Stapf, 1906
Cymbopogon citratus is often sold in stem form. While it can be grown in warmer temperate regions (such as the UK), it is not hardy to frost.
Cymbopogon citratus is abundant in the Philippines and Indonesia where it is known as tanglad or sereh. Its fragrant leaves are traditionally used in cooking, particularly for lechon and roasted chicken.
The dried leaves can also be brewed into a tea, either alone or as a flavouring in other teas, imparting a flavour reminiscent of lemon juice but with a mild sweetness and no considerable sourness/tartness.
The leaves of Cymbopogon citratus have been used in traditional medicine and are often found in herbal supplements and teas. A myriad of effects have been attributed to both their oral consumption and topical use, with modern research supporting many of their alleged benefits.
In traditional medicine of India the leaves of the plant are used as stimulant, sudorific, antiperiodic, and anticatarrhal, while the essential oil is used as carminative, depressant, analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial, and antifungal agent.
Laboratory studies have shown cytoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro, as well as antifungal properties (though Cymbopogon martinii was found to be more effective in that study).
Citronellol, which is thought to possess antihypertensive properties, is an essential oil constituent from Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon winterianus, and Lippia alba. Citronellol has been shown to lower blood pressure in rats by a direct effect on the vascular smooth muscle leading to vasodilation. In a small, randomised, controlled trial, an infusion made from C. citratus was used as an inexpensive remedy for the treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients.
Lemon grass contains 65-85% citral and active ingredients such as myrcene, an antibacterial and pain reliever; citronella; citronellol; and geranilol. Hydrosteam distillation, condensation, and cooling were used to separate the oil from the water. Hydrosol or Hydrolat, as a by-product of the distillation process, is a pure natural water or plant water essence used for the production of skin care products such as lotions, creams, and facial cleansing toner in its pure form. The main products are organic unadulterated lemon grass oil (for industrial users), and “negros oil” (mixture of lemon grass oil with virgin coconut oil) used in aromatherapy.
One low-dose study found no effect of Cymbopogon citratus essential oils on humans. However, subsequent research has demonstrated that the plants essential oil enhances GABA-ergic neurotranssmision at sufficient doses (with an anxiolytic threshold dose of 10mg/kg) via positive allosteric agonism in the same manner as benzodiazepines (ex. diazepam) which are used clinically as anxiolytics, sedative/hypnotics, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants. Despite the observed pharmacological activity, the average adult male would require 600-800mg of the pure essential oil to achieve a clinically significant reduction in anxiety. Most commercial supplements contain doses far below the threshold dose which suggests that the majority of lemongrass supplements exert their anxiolytic benefits either primarily or entirely through the induction of the placebo effect. As the essential oil was demonstrated to act synergistically with other GABA-ergics (even in sub-therapeutic doses) and likely also potentiates anxiolytics of other mechanisms (as predicted by the mechanics of benzodiazepines), the possibility of pharmacologically-induced anxiolysis cannot be eliminated when formulations containing a sub-therapeutic lemongrass dosage also contain other anxiolytic herbs/chemicals.
Effect on insects
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- Inhibitory effect of citral on NO production by suppression of iNOS expression and NF-kappa B activation in RAW264.7 cells. Lee HJ. Jeong HS. Kim DJ. Noh YH. Yuk DY. Hong JT. Archives of Pharmacal Research. 31(3):342-9, 2008 Mar.s.
- Suppression of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory mediators by Cymbopogon citratus D. Stapf extract in lipopolysaccharide stimulated murine alveolar macrophages. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Oct;48(10):2913-9 Authors: Tiwari M, Dwivedi UN, Kakkar P
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- Hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects of citronellol, a monoterpene alcohol, in rats. Bastos JF. Moreira IJ. Ribeiro TP. Medeiros IA. Antoniolli AR. De Sousa DP. Santos MR. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. 106(4):331-7, 2010 Apr.
- Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet. Wright SC. Maree JE. Sibanyoni M. Phytomedicine. 16(2-3):118-24, 2009 Mar.
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- Baldacchino, Frédéric; Tramut, Coline; Salem, Ali; Liénard, Emmanuel; Delétré, Emilie; Franc, Michel; Martin, Thibaud; Duvallet, Gérard; Jay-Robert, Pierre (2013). "The repellency of lemongrass oil against stable flies, tested using video tracking". Parasite 20: 21. doi:10.1051/parasite/2013021. ISSN 1776-1042. PMID 23759542.