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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Lemongrass was traditionally used in Indian Medicine but is used in aromatherapy today for a number of different uses, particularly as an insect repellent.
Use of Lemongrass in Traditional Medicine
Lemongrass has been used in traditional Indian Medicine for a long time to treat fever and disease; in traditional Chinese Medicine, lemongrass is used to treat rheumatism, headaches, colds and stomach pain. Today, lemongrass is still used in India for fevers and disease and also as an insect repellent.
Botanical Description of Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a tall grass that grows up to 5 feet high within a short period of time. Lemongrass belongs to a family of fragrant grasses, of Indian origin, that includes palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) and citronella (Cymbopogon nardus). It is now a cultivar of many tropical countries including central Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Different Types of Lemongrass
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a member of the Poaceae (Gramineae) plant family; lemongrass is available in a number of species, each with varying chemical components, although citral is the main component present in all varieties of lemongrass essential oil. In general, the West Indian lemongrass or the East Indian lemongrass species are used as essential oils in aromatherapy, although Cymbopogon flexuous has been used in aromatherapy too.
Extraction of Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh or dried leaves of lemongrass; it is yellow in color with a citrus/grass/lemon fragrance. The essential oils extracted from the West Indian and East Indian species of lemongrass are similar in fragrance and color, although the West Indian lemongrass species is lighter and fresher.
Aromatherapy Use of Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is analgesic, anti-microbial, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, deodorant, insecticidal, sedative, nervine and a tonic; in aromatherapy, lemongrass oil is used to treat acne, to repel insects such as fleas, lice, ticks and mosquitoes, to relieve muscle pain, indigestion, fever, disease, headaches, stress and nervous exhaustion.
Cautions for Using Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is non-toxic; however, it may cause some skin sensitization in individuals with sensitive or damaged skin or in those with allergies. For this reason, lemongrass essential oil should be used with care and should not be used on young children. Consult a qualified aromatherapist for further advice.
– Davis, Patricia 1999 Aromatherapy An A-Z UK: Vermilion
– Harding, Jennie 2005 Aromatherapy Massage for You UK: Duncan Baird Publishers Ltd
– Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Lemongrass Essential Oil
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