March 1, 2019


Lemon scent, intense and penetrating green notes make it one of the most used products in the world in perfumery and soaps … but the essential oil of Lemongrass offers much more than this: it is the natural source of a compound that is potentially active against tumors.


Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf. (Poaceae or Gramineae), known as Lemongrass, is a plant typical of tropical regions that today is cultivated almost everywhere. In the popular tradition of some countries, it is used to prepare infusions to drink if you suffer from breathing or stomach problems; its essential oil, often confused with the essential oil of  Java citronella (Cymbopogon winteranius Jowitt), is extracted by steam distillation from fresh leaves and is used in aromatherapy as a stimulant and a stress releaver.


This essential oil has been under the magnifying glass of several scholars for more than ten years thanks to its major component: the citral.

Citral is a natural mixture of two isomeric aldehydes, geranial (Citral A) and neral (Citral B), and has antibacterial, antifungal and antitumor activities.

The most recent research, carried out by a French university on Lemongrass essential oil obtained from Burkina Faso plantations, shows that this product has a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic action on prostate and glioblastoma tumor cells.


Glioblastoma is a very aggressive form of cancer that develops in the brain (affects the central nervous system). Its tumor cells have the ability to move quickly and infiltrate the healthy brain tissue, forming new blood vessels that increase the abnormal cells masses. Its treatment is surgically limited, because the area to operate is very delicate; treatments based on radiotherapy and chemotherapy are performed, cyclically repeated even after the removal of the tumor.

The essential oil of Lemongrass proves to be very effective in avoiding the proliferation of cells of this particular tumor, probably thanks to the high amount of citrate present (80%).


This feature makes citral an ideal candidate as an active ingredient of a possible new treatment for glioblastoma, because it acts to stop the progress of the tumor by limiting the formation of metastases, which is one of the major complications.

This discovery makes a possibility of complete recovery imaginable, unfortunately due to its location, a total surgical removal of glioblastoma is very difficult. Having a drug that avoids the expansion of the tumor and the elimination of the remaining diseased cells would make the expectations of healing much higher. The results of this further research confirm experiments already carried out previously, encouraging other studies and fueling new hopes. However, it is not to be believed that the essential oil of Lemongrass is the cure to the tumor: this precious compound distilled from the leaves of the C. citratus plant is the natural source of the molecule potentially active on cancer cells, but other studies are needed to understand the mechanisms of action and to discover an adequate and safe administration formula.




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