Cymbopogon citratus

scientific name: 
Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf
Andropogon citratus DC.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Erect, densely, tufted perennial grass. Leave blades 1 m x 5-15 mm, narrowing towards both ends, margins rough.  Flowering panicles rarely formed; inflorescence up to 60 cm long and drooping, spikes sessile, linear to linear-lanceolate.











stomach pain:

leaf, decoction or infusion, orally2,44


leaf, decoction or infusion, orally3,8-10,44,47-48


leaf, decoction or infusion, orally1,3-7,14,43


leaf, decoction or infusion, orally4-5,8,11-12,44-46,48


  leaf, decoction or infusion, orally3


leaf, decoction or infusion, orally 5,13,44


  leaf, decoction, orally1

TRAMIL Research42

For diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, flatulence, flu, colds and cough:

Prepare a decoction or infusion with 15-25 grams of leaf in 1 liter (4 cups) of water.  For decoction, boil for at least10 minutes in a covered pot; for infusion, add boiling water to 15-25 grams of leaf.  Cover and leave to cool down.  Filter and drink 1 cup (250 mL), 2-3 times a day.

In all the above-mentioned uses for oral administration, the preparation should be properly filtered, using a cloth, as a prerequisite for consumption, in order to avoid mechanical injuries to the mucosas, due to the microfilaments present in the leaf26.

According to published and other information:

Use for diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, flatulence, flu, colds and cough is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies, scientific validation and available published scientific information.

In case of diarrhea, the use of this resource can be considered complementary to oral re-hydration therapy.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should diarrhea last more than 3 days in adult or 2 days in children, or should fever last more than 2 days, stomach pain more than 3, or cough more than 5, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 3 years old.

TRAMIL Research22

The hydroalcoholic extract (70%) from the aerial parts applied subcutaneously to mouse showing an LD50 = 1.6 g/kg.

TRAMIL Research38

The hydroalcoholic extract (ethanol 30%) from the dried leaf administered orally to mice in a single dose of 143, 286, 572, 1716 and 2288 mg of total solid content/kg did not cause death; but there were signs of atonic gait, decreased reflex activity, and ataxia in the animals treated with the highest dose (2288 mg/kg) within hours of having received the extract.  There were no apparent adverse signs with the other doses, and weight gain was normal during the 14 days of observation following administration.

A similar study using hydroalcoholic extract (ethanol 80%) and doses of 150, 300, 375, 412 and 450 mg of total solid content/kg reported an LD50 = 440.5 mg/kg and some of the above-mentioned signs were observed.  The histological screening showed evidence of dose-dependent hepatic and renal damage.

TRAMIL Research39

The aqueous extract (decoction 10 g/100 mL water) from the dried leaf, administered in concentrations of 5 and 10 g/100 mL, and the hydroalcoholic extract (ethanol 80%) (122.5 mg/mL of total solids) applied at 0.01, 0.08, 0.8, 1, 2 and 10 mg of total solid content/mL, in the cultivation medium did not exhibit any genotoxic effect in the short-term somatic segregation induction model on Aspergillus nidulans.

TRAMIL Research25

Consumption of 500-1000 mL/person of leaf decoction (15-25 g/L) caused a depressant or pacifying feeling; no objective or subjective signs of toxicity were observed as a result of the phytotherapy. (Note: this effect is attributed exclusively to myrcene).

The decoction of the leaf showed antimutagenic activity in vitro on mebendazol-induced genotoxicity in the Aspergillus nidulans model40.

The decoction of the dried leaf (2 mg of dry vegetal material /150 mL of water) administered orally (20-40 mL/kg for 30 days) to pregnant rats did not show embryotoxicity28.

The aqueous extract from the dried leaf (2 to 10 g/day/person ) administered orally to 18 healthy adults for two weeks was not followed by evident toxicity signs or alteration of bilirubin levels, glucose, urea, creatinine, cholesterol, triglycerides, alkaline phosphatase, TGO, TGP, albumin, total proteins, LDH, CPK, urinary content of glucose, ketones, urobilinogen, bilirubin or hidden blood28,41.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or when breast feeding.

The leaf has been extensively studied and contains, among other components: α-oxo-bisabolene, borneol, geranial and neral (mainly), geraniol, nerol 15; phenylpropanoids: caffeic, ρ-coumaric and chlorogenic acids16; flavonoids: luteolin, iso-orientin16; triterpenes: cymbopogonol17, cymbopogone, cymbopogol18; steroid: ß-sitosterol19; alkanes: n-hexacosanol, n-triacontanol19.

The rhizome contains alkaloids20.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of leaf21: calories: 92; water: 74.3%; protein: 1%; fat: 1.4%; carbohydrate: 21.9%; fiber: 4.2%; ash: 1.4%; calcium: 32 mg; phosphorus: 30 mg; iron: 1.8 mg; carotene: 425 µg; thiamine: 0.05 mg; riboflavin: 0.02 mg; niacin: 2.30 mg; ascorbic acid: 1 mg.

TRAMIL Research22

The hydroalcoholic extract (70%) from the aerial parts, applied subcutaneously to Swiss mice (1g extract/kg of body weight) did not report activity in vivo against Plasmodium berghei NK65.

TRAMIL Research23

The aqueous extract (decoction, 9.7% total solids) from the fresh leaf (0.049, 0.124 and 0.249 mg of total solid content/mL) and the hydroalcoholic extracts at 30% (0.704, 0.760 and 3.520 mg/mL) and at 80% (0.241, 0.602 and 1.205 mg/mL) from the dried leaf, applied to isolated rat ileum, significantly inhibited the amplitude of spontaneous contractions.  With the hydroalcoholic extracts, a dose-dependent response was obtained, and the ED50 was estimated at 1.010 mg/mL for the extract at 30%, and at 0.042 mg/mL for the extract at 80%.

TRAMIL Research24

To study the anti-inflammatory effect of the fluid extract (ethanol-water 30%) from the dried leaf, the cotton-induced granuloma model in rat was applied, and ahot plate protocol was used for analgesic activity in mice.  The extract was administered orally at doses of 160, 320 and 480 mg/kg/day.  No effects were observed in the models studied.

TRAMIL Research25

The decoction of the fresh leaf (15-25 g/L) at a dose of 240 mL every 6 hours caused discrete sedative activity compared to the control group; gastrointestinal antispasmodic activity in the relief of transitory discomforts in healthy patients with minor symptoms, anti-hypertensive effects (not hypotensive however) in patients with essential high-blood pressure, degrees I and II (both outpatients and hospitalized), and expectorant and decongestant activity in patients with acute and chronic bronchitis.

The tincture of the dried leaf (30 mL/disk) was inactive in vitro as antimicrobial against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans26.

The decoction of the leaf (200 mg/kg of citral) administered orally to rat evidenced no activity on body temperature, the central nervous system, or intestinal transit or absorption27-28.  Other authors have pointed out that this preparation had hypotensive, diuretic and weakly anti-inflammatory effects on humans29.

The plant has been cited as having antispasmodic, insecticidal, and repellent effects in experimental animals19.

The essential oil (30 mg/orally to mice) induced gluthation S-transferase in the small intestine, but not in the liver or stomach30, and was antispasmodic31.

In contrast with results presented above antimicrobial activity has been found for the essential oil evidenced in vitro (20 mg/mL) against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium smegmatis and, to a lesser degree, against Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; it was also active againstTrichophyton mentagrophytes, Aspergillus flavus32, Cryptococcus neoformans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae33.  It has been described as having the following effects: insecticide34, depressant of the central nervous system, analgesic, and antipyretic29,35.

Thecompounds 1,8-cineol, citral, citronellal (ED = 1 mg/kg), geraniol and linalool compounds are cited as causing sedative effects, while caryophyllene, linalool, luteolin, myrcene and quercetin are described as having antispasmodic activity36.

There exists a patent on the antioxidant activity of the extracts of this plant37.




1 LAGOS-WITTE S, 1988-89, 1996 Encuesta TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Histología Vegetal y Etnobotánica, Dep. de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

2 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

3 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

4 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

5 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

6 JEAN-PIERRE L, 1988 TRAMIL survey. St. Lucia National Herbarium, Castries, St. Lucia.

7 FAUJOUR A, MURREY D, CHELTENHAM-CORBIN B, CARRINGTON S, 2003 TRAMIL survey. enda-caribbean, IICA & UAG, Saint Thomas, Barbados.

8 OCAMPO R, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica), Instituto de Desarrollo Agrario, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica.

9 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

10 DELENS M, 1992 Encuesta TRAMIL en los Estados Lara y Sucre de Venezuela. Centro al Servicio de la Acción Popular CESAP, Caracas, Venezuela.

11 O'REILLY A, 1992 TRAMIL survey. Chemistry & Food Technology Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Dunbars, Antigua & Barbuda.

12 BENEDETTI MD, 1994 Encuesta TRAMIL. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

13 MENDEZ M, MEDINA ML, DURAN R, 1996 Encuesta TRAMIL. Unidad de recursos naturales, Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán CICY, Mérida, México.


15 ABEGAZ B, YOHANNES P, DIETER R, 1983 Constituents of the essential oil of Ethiopian Cymbopogon citratus. J Nat Prod 46(3):424-426.

16 DE MATOUSCHEK B, STAHL-BISKUP E, 1991 Phytochemical investigation of nonvolatile constituents ofCymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. (Poaceae). Pharm Acta Helv 66(9/10):242-245.

17 HANSON S, CRAWFORD M, KOKER M, MENEZES F, 1976 Cymbopogonol, a new triterpenoid from Cymbopogon citratus. Phytochemistry15:1074-1075.

18 YOKOYAMA Y, TSUYUKI T, NAKAMURA N, TAKAHASHI T, HANSON S, MATSUSHITA K, 1980 Revised structures of cymbopogone and cymbopogonol. Tetrahedron Lett21:3701-3702.

19 OLANIYI A, SOFOWORA E, OGUNTIMEHIN B, 1975 Phytochemical investigation of some Nigerian plants used against fevers. II. Cymbopogon citratus. Planta Med 28:186-189.

20 WILLAMAN JJ, LI H, 1970 Alkaloid-bearing plants and their contained alkaloids, 1957-1968. Lloydia33(Supp.3A):1-286.

21 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p57.

22 SAUVAIN M, MORETTI C, MUÑOZ V, 1990 Pruebas in vivo para paludismo realizadas en Bolivia sobre varias plantas TRAMIL. ORSTOM/IRD/IBBA, La Paz, Bolivia.

23 MORON F, SANCHEZ C, MARTINEZ MC, MOREJON Z, PINEDO Z, 2000 Actividad antiespasmódica in vitro de hojas frescas de Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

24 MORON F, FURONES J, PINEDO Z, 1996 Ausencia de efectos antiinflamatorio y analgésico del extracto fluído de Cymbopogon citratus al 30% por vía oral. Rev Cubana Plant Med 1(2):3-6.

25 CARBALLO A, 1995 Plantas medicinales del Escambray cubano. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

26 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, DAGUILH R, HENRYS D, HENRYS J, ANTON R, 1986 Popular medicine of the central plateau of Haiti. 2. Ethnopharmacological inventory. J Ethnopharmacol 17(1):13-30.

27 CARLINI EA, CONTAR JD, SILVA-FILHO AR, SOLVEIRA-FILHO NG, FROCHTENGARTEN ML, BUENO OF, 1986 Pharmacology of lemon-grass Cymbopogon citratus I. Effect of teas prepared from the leaves on laboratory animals. J Ethnopharmacol 17(1):37-64.

28 SOUZA FORMIGONI ML, LODDER HM, FILHO OG, FERREIRA TM, CARLINI EA, 1986 Pharmacology of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus Stapf). II. Effects of daily two month administration in male and female rats and in offspring exposed "in utero". J Ethnopharmacol 17(1):65-74.

29 CARBAJAL D, CASACO A, ARRUZAZABALA L, GONZALEZ R, TOLON Z, 1989 Pharmacological study of Cymbopogon citratus leaves. J Ethnopharmacol25(1):103-107.

30 LAM L, ZHENG B, 1991 Effects of essential oils on glutathione S-transferase activity in mice. J Agric Food Chem 39(4):660-662.

31 LORENZETTI B, SOUZA G, SARTI S, FILHO DS, FERREIRA SH, 1991 Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea. J Ethnopharmacol 34(1):43-48.

32 LEMOS TLG, MATOS FJA, ALENCAR JW, CRAVEIRO AA, CLARK AM, MC CHESNEY JD, 1990 Antimicrobial activity of essential oils of Brazilian plants. Phytother Res4(2):82-84.

33 AWUAH R, 1989  Fungitoxic effects of extracts from some West African plants. Ann Appl Biol 115(3):451-453.

34 REYNOLDS JEF, PRASAD AB, Eds., 1982 MARTINDALE The extra pharmacopoeia. 28th ed. London, England: The Pharmaceutical Press. p677.

35 SETH, G, KOKATE CK, VARMA KC, 1976 Effect of essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus on central nervous system. Indian J Exp Biol 14(3):370-371.

36 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

37 KOBAYASHI N, 1989 Pharmaceutical compositions containing lemongrass extracts and antioxidants. Patens Japan Kokai Tokio Koho., 01, 221, 320.

38 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BARCELO H, LAINEZ A, MONTES ME, REGO R, BOUCOURT E, MORON F, 2000 Toxicidad aguda clásica de hoja seca de Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf.Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

39 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, MORON F, 2000 Actividad genotóxica in vitro de hoja seca de Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

40 de la Torre RA, Espinosa-Aguirre JJ, Cortinas de Nava C, Izquierdo T, Moron F, 1994 Genotoxic activity of mebendazole in Aspergillus nidulans. Mutat Res 305(2):139-144.

41 LEITE JR, SEABRA ML, MALUF E, ASSOLANT K, SUCHECKI D, TUFIK S, KLEPACZ S, CALIL HM, CARLINI EA, 1986 Pharmacology of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates Stapf). III. Assessment of eventual toxic, hypnotic and anxiolytic effects on humans. J Ethnopharmacol 17(1):75-83.

42 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

43 DELAIGUE J, 2005 TRAMIL survey. UAG & PRDI, Tobago House of Assembly, Scarborough, Tobago.

44 ZambranoLE, 2007 Encuesta TRAMIL en Guareguare, Miranda. UCV, Caracas, Venezuela.

45 BALZ E, BOYER A, BURAUD M, 2007 Enquête TRAMIL à Marie-Galante. U. Bordeaux 3, U. Paris XI Chatenay-Malabry, UAG, Guadeloupe.

46 BOYER A, BURAUD M, 2007 Enquête TRAMIL à La Désirade. U. Paris XI Chatenay-Malabry, UAG, Guadeloupe.

47 OCRISSE G, 2008 Enquête TRAMIL auprès de 250 familles de la moitié Est de la partie francophone de St Martin. Biologie végétale, UAG, Guadeloupe.

48 BOULOGNE I, 2009 Enquête TRAMIL, (Terre-de-Bas et Terre-de-Haut) Les Saintes, UAG, Guadeloupe.         


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.