Scientists reveal lemongrass extract kills cancer cells in preliminary studies


When someone mentions “lemongrass”, you probably think of a favorite flavorful curry at a favorite Thai restaurant, or maybe the fresh citrusy aroma of the lemongrass that makes it the perfect addition to a homemade household cleaner.

But on the other hand, few people would admit that lemongrass is known as a potential cancer treatment, but a study aims to prove that.

A study shows lemongrass extract kills cancer cells

The researcher Kavisa Ghosh at a university in India conducted a study which results were that lemongrass extract interacted with two different cell lines that are used in cancer research: HeLa and ME-10, both cervical cancer cells. These tests involved using lemongrass oil and citral emulsion, which is a compound found in lemongrass. These both had significant effects. They decreased the proliferation, or separation and spread of the cells as well as at the same time they increased the intracellular ROS (oxidative stress) on the cancer cells, changing the potential of the mitochondrial membrane which is the “powerhouse” of the cells and causing apoptosis which is a programmed cell death.

The abstract of the study ends with the conclusion of the author that says: “All the results suggest lemongrass oil and citral emulsion could be considered as potential candidates for anticancer agents”.

Lemongrass or the components of it potentially slow or stop cervical cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, and sarcoma which is a bone/soft tissue cancer.

It is important to know and understand that these studies are completed using cells in a lab or animal models and no human subject or cancer patients have undergone trials to see if this effect will work. So do not use lemongrass oil or lemongrass tea for cancer treatments.

What are the proven benefits of lemongrass?

Lemongrass and its compounds have antibacterial, antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some benefits of lemongrass include:

Antifungal: If you want to kill off fungus like Candida in lab experiments, then use lemongrass oil. Malessezia spp. is a fungus that causes white patches on the skin, and a pilot study in humans found that lemongrass oil can be effective against it, without the side effects that are associated with common medications traditionally used for the treatment of this condition. You can even kill fungi such as C. tropicalis and Aspergillus niger with lemongrass oil.

Anti-parasitic: Lemongrass essential oil is an anti-parasitic agent against the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite also used in lab stidies.

Antiviral: A study which was conducted in rats in 2014 found that lemongrass oil and citral successfully protected the animals against the norovirus, which is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu in humans.

Antimicrobial: A human study which was conducted in India found a solution of 2% lemongrass essential oil in gel form which was effective in preventing further infection in patients with periodontal disease. This is because of the fact that lemongrass has potent antimicrobial power against S. mutans, which is a bacteria commonly responsible for infections of the mouth. Lemongrass oil has incredible antimicrobial benefits that may help with various infections, but it is not safe to be used internally on its own. But some researchers work on the development of vehicles for lemongrass that would be safe for internal use, such as nanocapsules.

Anti-inflammatory: Lemongrass essential oil is effective in reducing skin inflammation in mice. This was found by researchers at an Algerian university.

Anti-anxiety: If you inhale lemongrass oil, it will help you quell anxious reactions to stimuli and it will improve your recovery time if you are exposed to a stress-inducing situation. This was found out by some small human studies.

Sleep aid: It is found by animal studies that lemongrass essential oil may help increase sleep time in rats.

How to use lemongrass

To get the benefits of lemongrass in your daily life you have two ways: lemongrass essential oil and lemongrass tea.

If you decide to use lemongrass tea, you need to know that it is available online and through many major retailers. Its taste is reminiscent of lemon but sweeter and less strong. The herbal tea of this oil will pair well with just a bit of honey. Many people use it for healthy digestion and to support their body’s disease-fighting defenses.

Lemongrass has many advantages, it calms anxiety, and it improves sleep. For this, you can use lemongrass essential oil. To breathe in the aromatic power of this oil, you need to use 4 or 5 drops in a diffuser, or you can dilute it in a carrier oil and use it topically to kill off external bacteria. An antibacterial essential oil is good for when you want to mix up a homemade hand soap.

You need to know that lemongrass essential oil is not to be ingested because it is associated with various side effects including liver issues and allergic reactions.


The results of this research are still in its early stage in testing lemongrass’ effects on cancer, but the results are very promising. You shouldn’t use lemongrass as a cancer treatment yet, but it may be a great idea to harness the healing power of lemongrass by integrating it into your daily life.


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