Recently, during one of my write-up summaries for a lovely client, I noticed something. Lemongrass, one of my favorite essential oils for its immune supporting properties and its role as a defender against evil microbe invasions, was not well covered in my essential oils database. Oh, the horror! I will remedy this below!
“How could this be?!” I said to myself.
I admit, sometimes, I blunder big! I gloss over in sharing with other oily lovers what is so aromatic commonplace in my life. Dolt!
So, let me start out with the beginning of my love story with lemongrass essential oil. I hope you can make some time to snuggle up with your lavender hot cocoa and enjoy this warm and fuzzy story!
The Numero Uno, Most Important, Four-Legged Reason…
That Lemongrass Tops My Holiday Wish List
Lemongrass has been a frequent flyer from its bottle to my diffusor for the past 12 years. This is because it’s my little kitty-cat’s favorite oil, for a very good reason.
My mom and have discovered that it helps Kiara-kitty (AKA “Bubby”) recover from the intermittent discomfort she gets from bouncing about too much on her injured hind leg. We don’t know how the initial injury happened to her, but she was limping on it when we found her abandoned by her mamma in my uncle’s shed many years ago. After nursing her back to health, and my mom dutifully attending to her cast, we experienced the power of lemongrass and Kiara’s happy activity pursue!
Why Lemongrass in Cats?
After I did my research and found that lemongrass is a safer oil for kitty’s, we tested it using the “sniff test.” You have to be a bit more careful for your felines with essential oils, as they lack the enzyme glucuronyl transferase in the liver. This makes it harder to remove phenols and monoterpenes, and other substances found in essential oils. Therefore, theoretically this fact and that their tiny bodies need smaller doses, makes cats more vulnerable to toxicity.
Thankfully, little Kiara guided us! She went right up to the bottle and give it a whiff, a sure-sign of kitty approval! So, there was our answer, we had to diffuse it!
Guess what, every time we do this, it takes about an hour and Kiara is jumping back up on the coach to cuddle with her toy mouse, David. It’s a beautiful thing!
Really, Diffusing with Cats!?
I’ve found, from speaking with my holistic vet, my experience, and my team’s stories, that diffusing seems well tolerated by cats. They will simply leave the room if they don’t like the aroma. If you are worried, or if your cat is acting stranger (than usual), you may want to decrease your diffusing of the oils found on this list and stick to diffusing gentler oils around them.
You will probably find that they also tend to gravitate in rooms where their favorite oil is being diffused. Too cute!!
Can’t Top That with Science, But I’ll Try…
Okay, humans, now let’s look at this oil’s properties and why it may have helped my four-legged furry best friend and how it may also help us homo sapiens. I think you’ll find that after skimming or reading this post, that there are so many reasons that lemongrass essential oil is highly regarded in herbal medicine and aromatherapy.
Oh, and I’ve decided to break the post down into at least two parts (paws ;)) in order to keep the blog “user-friendly.” For some reason, most people just don’t seem to like blogs turned into dissertations! Hmmm….
For the Love of the Science:
Chemotypes, Constituents, and Cat Approved
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon genus) consists of approximately 55 species. This plant is believed to be indigenous in tropical and semi-tropical areas of Asia and is cultivated in South and Central America, Africa, and other tropical locations. According to the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, “The name Cymbopogon is derived from the Greek words “kymbe” (boat) and “pogon” (beard), referring to the flower spike arrangement.”
One of the most common species of Cymbpogon is Cymbopogon citratus, Stapf (Lemon grass). According to the same article, the compounds in C. citratus essential oil are:
…mainly terpenes, alcohols, ketones, aldehyde and esters. Some of the reported phytoconstituents are essential oils that contain Citral ?, Citral ?, Nerol Geraniol, Citronellal, Terpinolene, Geranyl acetate, Myrecene and Terpinol Methylheptenone. The plant also contains reported phytoconstituents such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which consist of luteolin, isoorientin 2’-O-rhamnoside, quercetin, kaempferol and apiginin.
The authors then go on to list all the various ways that lemongrass can be good for man and his beasts:
Studies indicate that Cymbopogon citratus possesses various pharmacological activities such as anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, antifilarial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Various other effects like antimalarial, antimutagenicity, antimycobacterial, antioxidants, hypoglycemic and neurobehaviorial have also been studied. These results are very encouraging and indicate that this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects.
Source: Shah G, Shri R, Panchal V, Sharma N, Singh B, Mann AS. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass). Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research. 2011;2(1):3-8. doi:10.4103/2231-4040.79796.
However, as with all oils, you need to consider the species and the chemotype! If you remember from your dutiful readings of my previous essential oils blogs, chemotypes reflect different constituents found in the same plant species.
For example, a recent abstract from the 47th International Symposium on Essential Oils (ISEO2016) in Nice France, explored eight commercially available essential oils and divided them into chemotypes with differing properties. Why interesting, because these oils were from Poland. Really, is that the tropics? Well, it makes a good point for chemotypes anyhow.
Getting a headache looking at the abstract?
The bottom line summary is that these different chemotypes yielded differing primary properties, even though the species were of similar origin. I’ve highlighted the main points in this and all the abstracts, if you aren’t a journal junkie. Oh, and in case you are curious, C. fluexusos is what Kiara-Kitty recommends! (Cat approved©). Here’s the full abstract (bold emphasis mine):
The genus Cymbopogon Spreng. (Poaceae) is characterized by its species possessing greatvariability in morphology and chemotypes . Most species of the genus are aromatic and yield volatile oils of important commercial values. The most common is lemongrass oil obtained from C. citratus or C. flexuosus, and citronella oil from C. nardus or C. winterianus . The aim of this work was the chemical analysis of 8 commercially available essential oils (EO) obtained from different of Cymbopogon species (C. nardus, C. winterianus, C. flexuosus, C. schoenanthus, C. martini).
Additionally, for the first time, the EOs were hydrodistilled from leaves, stems, and the roots of C. citratus cultivated in Poland. The yield of EO from the aerial pats of the Polish material was about 1.5% (v/w), which is comparable to plants growing in tropical and subtropical regions. GC/MS analysis of
Cymbopogon essential oils showed the difference in the chemical composition. EOs can be divided into three chemotypes. Chemotype 1 (C. nardus, C. winterianus) contains mainly citronellal, while neral and geranial are the most important compounds found in chemotype II (C. citratus, C. flexosus, C. schoenanathus). C. martini known as palmarosa, belong to the chemotype III. This EO instead of the monoterpene aldehydes produces alcohols: nerol and geraniol. The chemical composition of the EO obtained from the leaves of C. citratus (chemotype III) was very similar to that of the EO hydrodistilled from the stems, with the exception of the presence of sesquiterpene alcohol, elemol in stems. This compound was the major constituent of the EO obtained from roots. The findings on the composition of EO from Cymbopogon species were similar to those previously reported except for elemol which was found in C. citratus from Poland.
EOs classified in chemotypes I and II showed good antioxidant activity (EC50 0.43-1.96 mg/ml). C. martini (chemotype III), showed no antioxidant activity. All EOs were tested for their antimicrobial activity against 16 reference strains of Gram-positive, Gram-negative bacteria and yeasts. EOs belonging to the chemotype II have the strongest activity, especially against Gram-positive bacteria like B. subtilis (MIC=7 ug/ml, MBC 30 ug/ml) and M. luteus (MIC= 30-60 ug/ml, MBC= 60-125 ug/ml). These EOs also showed strong activity against Candida species with MIC values ranging from 60-125 ug/ml. EOs of lemongrass also cultivated in Poland can be a good source of antimicrobial agents.
Source: Essential oils form Cymbopogon species-chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. 47th International Symposium on Essential Oils (ISEO2016). Book of Abstracts. September 11-14, 2016. Nice, France. (pg 100) http://unice.fr/colloques/iseo/documents/ISEO2016%20Book%20of%20abstracts.pdf
Therefore, as you further read my or any other “essential oils expert” review, you may want to compare your lemongrass oil with the species and chemotype found in the study- because it may be different!
The Microbe-Defending and “Paw Edema” Erasing Properties of Lemongrass
I’m not being cute really, “paw edema” is a mean thing researchers induce in rodents to measure inflammatory effects. (I don’t like it either! Still, don’t shot the messenger of the science! This is why I couldn’t continue with my research!)
In this study, researchers evaluated the effect of C. citratus on fungus in petri dishes and on the rodents’ little paws. They also did a little diffusing to assess how fungus could hold up to its vapor power.
Here’s what they found for LGEO (lemongrass essential oil), positive things on both accounts of course! Want to know what’s really cool as well? Vaporizing lemongrass was most potent in disintegrating fungal takeover! (Take that, you nasty mycotoxins!):
Results LGEO exhibited promising antifungal effect against Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, and Aspergillus niger, with different inhibition zone diameters (IZDs) (35–90 mm). IZD increased with increasing oil volume. Significantly, higher anti-Candida activity was observed in the vapor phase. For the evaluation of the anti-inflammatory effect, LGEO (10 mg/kg, administered orally) significantly reduced carrageenan-induced paw edema with a similar effect to that observed for oral diclofenac (50 mg/kg), which was used as the positive control. Oral administration of LGEO showed dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity. In addition, topical application of LGEO in vivo resulted in a potent anti-inflammatory effect, as demonstrated by using the mouse model of croton oil-induced ear edema. To our knowledge, this is the first such report to be published. The topical application of LGEO at doses of 5 and 10 µL/ear significantly reduced acute ear edema induced by croton oil in 62.5 and 75% of the mice, respectively. In addition, histological analysis clearly confirmed that LGEO inhibits the skin inflammatory response in animal models.
Conclusion Results of the present study indicate that LGEO has a noteworthy potential for the development of drugs for the treatment of fungal infections and skin inflammation that should be explored in future studies.
Source: Boukhatem MN, Ferhat MA, Kameli A, Saidi F, Kebir HT. Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs. The Libyan Journal of Medicine. 2014;9:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431. doi:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431.
So, Kiara Kitty’s instincts were right…she went for an oil that would help her “paw edema” and rid her atmosphere of the presence of any pesky mycotoxins floating around and trumping her leg’s healing.
See, cat’s may be smarter than dogs…well maybe my cat anyway. 😉
Supports Healthy Cells
Uh, I must be careful what words I use here, due to FDA guidelines.
So, let me just give you some abstracts straight out.
I know, darn it, it makes the darn post seem soooooo long!
You can just skim over the regular italized words and glance at the bold type if you want.
Disclaimer: it is recommended to read the whole thing for your full consumer education.
In Petri Dish Cells
The essential oil from a lemon grass variety of Cymbopogon flexuosus was studied for its in vitro cytotoxicity against twelve human cancer cell lines. The in vivo anticancer activity of the oil was also studied using both solid and ascitic Ehrlich and Sarcoma-180 tumor models in mice. In addition, the morphological changes in tumor cells were studied to ascertain the mechanism of cell death. The in vitro cytotoxicity studies showed dose-dependent effects against various human cancer cell lines. The IC(50) values of oil ranged from 4.2 to 79 microg/ml depending upon the cell line. In 502713 (colon) and IMR-32 (neuroblastoma) cell lines, the oil showed highest cytotoxicity with IC(50) value of 4.2 and 4.7 microg/ml, respectively. Intra-peritoneal administration of the oil significantly inhibited both ascitic and solid forms of Ehrlich and Sarcoma-180 tumors in a dose-dependent manner. The tumor growth inhibition at 200 mg/kg (i.p.) of the oil observed with both ascitic and solid tumor forms of Ehrlich Ascites carcinoma was 97.34 and 57.83 respectively. In case of Sarcoma-180, the growth inhibition at similar dose of oil was 94.07 and 36.97% in ascitic and solid forms respectively. Morphological studies of the oil treated HL-60 cells revealed loss of surface projections, chromatin condensation and apoptosis. The mitochondria showed apparent loss of cristae in the cells undergoing apoptosis. The morphological studies of Sarcoma-180 solid tumor cells from animals treated with the oil revealed condensation and fragmentation of nuclei typical of apoptosis. Morphological studies of ascites cells from animals treated with the oil too revealed the changes typical of apoptosis. Our results indicate that the oil has a promising anticancer activity and causes loss in tumor cell viability by activating the apoptotic process as identified by electron microscopy.
Source: Anticancer activity of an essential oil from Cymbopogon flexuosus. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 May 15;179(2-3):160-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2008.12.004. Epub 2008 Dec 11.
Mechanism alert above for curious docs!!
An essential oil from a lemon grass variety of Cymbopogon flexuosus (CFO) and its major chemical constituent sesquiterpene isointermedeol (ISO) were investigated for their ability to induce apoptosis in human leukaemia HL-60 cells because dysregulation of apoptosis is the hallmark of cancer cells. CFO and ISO inhibited cell proliferation with 48 h IC50 of approximately 30 and 20 microg/ml, respectively. Both induced concentration dependent strong and early apoptosis as measured by various end-points, e.g. annexinV binding, DNA laddering, apoptotic bodies formation and an increase in hypo diploid sub-G0 DNA content during the early 6h period of study. This could be because of early surge in ROS formation with concurrent loss of mitochondrial membrane potential observed. Both CFO and ISO activated apical death receptors TNFR1, DR4 and caspase-8 activity. Simultaneously, both increased the expression of mitochondrial cytochrome c protein with its concomitant release to cytosol leading to caspase-9 activation, suggesting thereby the involvement of both the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways of apoptosis. Further, Bax translocation, and decrease in nuclear NF-kappaB expression predict multi-target effects of the essential oil and ISO while both appeared to follow similar signaling apoptosis pathways. The easy and abundant availability of the oil combined with its suggested mechanism of cytotoxicity make CFO highly useful in the development of anti-cancer therapeutics.
Source: An essential oil and its major constituent isointermedeol induce apoptosis by increased expression of mitochondrial cytochrome c and apical death receptors in human leukaemia HL-60 cells. Chem Biol Interact. 2008 Feb 15;171(3):332-47. Epub 2007 Oct 24.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus Stapf) essential oil has been used worldwide because of its ethnobotanical and medicinal usefulness. Regarding its medicinal usefulness, the present study evaluated the beneficial effects of lemongrass essential oil (LGEO) oral treatment on cell proliferation and apoptosis events and on early development of hyperplastic lesions in the mammary gland, colon, and urinary bladder induced by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) in female BALB/c mice. The animals were allocated into three groups: G1, treated with LGEO vehicle for 5 weeks (five times per week); G2, treated with LGEO vehicle as for G1 and MNU (two injections each of 30?mg/kg of body weight at weeks 3 and 5); and G3, treated with LGEO (five times each with 500?mg/kg of body weight per week) and MNU as for G2. Twenty-four hours after the last MNU application, all animals were euthanized, and mammary glands, colon, and urinary bladder were collected for histological and immunohistochemical analysis. LGEO oral treatment significantly changed the indexes of apoptosis and/or cellular proliferation for the tissues analyzed. In particular, the treatment reduced the incidence of hyperplastic lesions and increased apoptosis in mammary epithelial cells. This increment in the apoptosis response may be related to a favorable balance in Bcl-2/Bax immunoreactivity in mammary epithelial cells. These findings indicate that LGEO presented a protective role against early MNU-induced mammary gland alterations in BALB/c mice.
Source: Modifying effects of lemongrass essential oil on specific tissue response to the carcinogen N-methyl-N-nitrosurea in female BALB/c mice. J Med Food. 2012 Feb;15(2):161-8. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0278. Epub 2011 Nov 14.
Prevention of DNA Damage
This study investigated the protective effect of oral treatment with lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus STAPF) essential oil (LGEO) on leukocyte DNA damage induced by N-methyl-N-nitrosurea (MNU). Also, the anticarcinogenic activity of LGEO was investigated in a multi-organ carcinogenesis bioassay induced by 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)antracene, 1,2-dimethylhydrazine and N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxibuthyl)nitrosamine in Balb/C female Balb/c mice (DDB-initiated mice). In the short-term study, the animals were allocated into three groups: vehicle group (negative control), MNU group (positive control) and LGEO 500 mg kg?¹ (five times per week for 5 weeks) plus MNU group (test group). Blood samples were collected to analyze leukocyte DNA damage by comet assay 4 h after each MNU application at the end of weeks 3 and 5. The LGEO 500 mg kg?¹ treated group showed significantly lower (P < 0.01) leukocyte DNA damage than its respective positive group exposed to MNU alone at week 3. In the medium-term study, DDB-initiated mice were allocated into three groups: vehicle group (positive control) and LGEO 125 or 500 mg kg?¹ (five times per week for 6 weeks; test groups). At week 20, all animals were euthanized and mammary glands, colon and urinary bladder were processed for histopathological analyses for detection of preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions. A slight non-significant effect of treatment with LGEO 500 mg kg?¹ in reducing development of alveolar and ductal mammary hyperplasia was found (P = 0.075). Our findings indicate that lemongrass essential oil provided protective action against MNU-induced DNA damage and a potential anticarcinogenic activity against mammary carcinogenesis in DDB-initiated female Balb/C mice.
Source: Protective effects of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus STAPF) essential oil on DNA damage and carcinogenesis in female Balb/C mice.J Appl Toxicol. 2011 Aug;31(6):536-44. doi: 10.1002/jat.1593. Epub 2010 Nov 19.
Breathe…I’m halfway through my abstracts, so tune back in next time for Paw 2…I mean Part II.
In the meantime, go scratch your favorite furry friends’ bellies. They give us health benefits just be being around us.
This holiday season, maybe we should show them a little love, and give ourselves some benefits, by diffusing some lemongrass oil. The perfect balance of giving and receiving.
If you want to learn more about essential oils and their uses, view my full database here.
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and quality and standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” needs only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
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