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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 115-117

Lemon grass oil for improvement of oral health

1 Bachelor of Dental Surgery Student, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Pharmacology, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication4-Dec-2013

Correspondence Address:
T Lakshmi
Department of Pharmacology, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2155-8213.122671

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Lemon grass essential oil has been used for decades to treat respiratory infections, sinusitis, bladder infections, high cholesterol, digestive problem, varicose veins and also for regeneration of connective tissue. It has anti spasmodic, anti-pyretic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, insect repellent, sedative, vasodilator and flavoring properties. In china, it has been used traditionally as a remedy for stomach and liver diseases and also to treat rheumatism. Since lemon grass oil possess various pharmacological actions, it is also quite useful in dentistry. Hence, the objective of this article is to highlight various uses of lemon grass oil in the dental field and in the medical field in order to aid the professionals for future research.

Keywords: Dentistry, essential oil, lemon grass, oral health, pharmacological actions

How to cite this article:
Rajesvari R, Lakshmi T. Lemon grass oil for improvement of oral health. Dent Hypotheses 2013;4:115-7

How to cite this URL:
Rajesvari R, Lakshmi T. Lemon grass oil for improvement of oral health. Dent Hypotheses [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Jun 2];4:115-7. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Essential oil is a concentrated volatile liquid containing hydrophobic components. They are used medicinally to treat various diseases such as fungal infections bacterial infections etc. They are used as mouth washes to treat plaque gingivitis to maintain inter dental hygiene pre-procedural rinsing for controlling infection and for maintaining the implant. [1]

  Lemon Grass Oil Top

Lemon grass [Figure 1] belongs to the family Poaceace and genus Cymbopogon.
Figure 1: Lemon grass plant and its essential oil in a clear glass vial (http://

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Common names: lemon grass, barbed wire grass, citronella grass, Tanglad, Hierba luisa.

Scientific name: Cymbopogon nardus, Citratus

Distribution: India, Tropical Asia and Africa.

Botanical description

  • Tropical grass
  • Grow in dense clumps
  • Up to 6 ft. in height and 4 ft. in width
  • Short rhizome. [2]

Active ingredients

  • Citronellol
  • Geraniol.

Medicinal uses

  • To treat rheumatism
  • To treat periodontitis [3]
  • To treat hyper cholesterolemia [4]
  • To treat hypertension
  • As an anti-oxidant. [5]

Anti-bacterial activity

A research conducted by Saddiq and Khayyat showed that citral epoxide, which is an active ingredient of lemon grass oil have high activity against the growth of bacteria than fungi and also showed that it effectively inhibits methicillin resistant species of Staphylococcus aureus.[2]

Another research conducted by Naik et al. showed that lemon grass oil is effective against Gram-positive bacteria than Gram-negative bacteria even at low concentration. It also showed that it is effective in treating many species of drug resistant bacteria. [6]

In the oral cavity Gram-positive bacteria is predominant over Gram-negative bacteria. Hence, lemon grass oil can be used as a mouth wash to prevent bacterial accumulation, which in turn can prevent dental caries. Lemon grass was found effective against all the test organisms except Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of aqueous extract of Cymbopogon citratus leaves were studied. Antimicrobial activities of aqueous and ethanol extract of C. citratus was compared against certain bacteria by disc diffusion method. In accordance with the nutrient and chemical contents determined, C. citratus leaves are safe and effective as a therapeutic agent in traditional therapies and also as dietary supplements. [7]

Anti-candida activity

A study done by American Association of Microbiology confirmed that lemon grass showed 100% toxicity against fungal growth. The essential oil of lemon grass 1000 ppm inhibited fungal growth completely. [8] Hence, lemon grass oil can be used in the treatment of oral candidiasis.

A randomized controlled trial was done to analyze the use of lemon grass essential oil in the treatment of oral thrush in a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive population. Though the patient population was small, the use of lemon juice and lemon grass for the treatment of oral candidiasis in an HIV population was validated. [9]

Few references says that citral acts as a fungicidal agent because it is able to form a charge transfer complex with an electron donor of fungal cells, resulting in fungal death. [10]

The results demonstrated the potentiality of using the lemon grass oil instead of the citral in pharmaceuticals preparations, because of its similar anti-fungal activity, the minor cost and toxicity. [11]

According to a study by Tyagi and Malik on minimum inhibitory concentration of different essential oils in the liquid phase, assayed through agar plate dilution, broth dilution and 96-well micro plate dilution method and vapor phase activity evaluated through disc volatilization method proved that lemon grass essential oil is highly effective in the vapor phase against Candida albicans, leading to deleterious morphological changes in cellular structures and cell surface alterations. [12]

In management of periodontitis

Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition caused due to oxidative stress along with microbial toxins. It is characterized by inflamed tissue with or without bleeding around the teeth and there will be loosening of the collagen fibers around the teeth leading to super infections followed by mobility of the teeth.

Lemon grass oil have anti-oxidant properties, which helps in prevention and treatment of periodontitis hence by increasing the level of thiol anti-oxidants and also by reducing the bacterial load showed in a study conducted by Anand et al. [3]

Another study by Rabbani et al. showed that the antioxidant action can be responsible for the anti-clastogenic effect of citral against nickel chloride. [13]

Anti-plaque activity

Plaque, which is also known as biofilm produced by bacterial toxins is adherent to tooth surfaces and may lead to gingivitis. Plaque will get trapped in inter dental spaces and accumulate bacteria in them and induces an inflammatory reaction in the gingiva. Hence, ultimately it will lead to gingivitis which on further progression leads to periodontitis.

Lemon grass oil can be used as an adjunct in mouth washes in order to prevent plaque formation and also to remove the plaque. Thereby it will inhibit the caries formation. A study published in the journal of ethno pharmacology proved that essential oil of lemon grass is effective in busting through the tough biofilm that Candida hides behind [3] and hence it can be used as a mouth wash and toothpaste to remove biofilm, which ultimately forms plaque. [14]

  Conclusion Top

Hence, these researches concluded that lemon grass oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-proliferative, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, which hints that it can be used to treat various diseases in human. The extract can be used as a mouth rinse or tooth paste or medicament to treat various dental issues. Further researches should be done in lemon grass oil in relation with oral cavity for the prevention and treatment of various dental diseases.

  References Top

1.Yengopal V. Essential oils: Some lesser known uses and properties for improved oral health. J Minimum Interv Dent 2009;2:190-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Saddiq AA, Khayyat SA. Chemical and antimicrobial studies of monoterpene; citral. Pestic Biochem Physiol 2010;98:89-93.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Anand M, Goyal R, Bhat GS, Kamath S, Aggarwal M, Bhandarkar MA, et al. Antioxidant property of a novel lemongrass oil mouth wash: an experimental study. Rec Res Sci Technol 2011;3:14-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Shah G, Shri R, Panchal V, Sharma N, Singh B, Mann AS. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass). J Adv Pharm Technol Res 2011;2:3-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
5.Cheel J, Theoduloz C, Rodríguez J, Schmeda-Hirschmann G. Free radical scavengers and antioxidants from lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf.). J Agric Food Chem 2005;53:2511-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Naik I, Fomda BA, Bhat JA. On antibacterial activity of lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) oil against some selected pathogenic bacteria. Asian Pac J Trop Med 2010;3:535-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Oloyede OI. Chemical profile and antimicrobial activity of Cymbopogon citratus leaves. J Nat Prod 2009;2:98-103.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Mishra AK, Dubey NK. Evaluation of some essential oils for their toxicity against fungi causing deterioration of stored food commodities. Appl Environ Microbiol 1994;60:1101-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Wright SC, Maree JE, Sibanyoni M. Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet. Phytomedicine 2009;16:118-24.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Silva Cde B, Guterres SS, Weisheimer V, Schapoval EE. Antifungal activity of the lemongrass oil and citral against Candida spp. Braz J Infect Dis 2008;12:63-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Kurita N, Miyaji M, Kurane R, Takahara Y. Antifungal activity of components of essential oils. Agric Biol Chem 1981;45:945-52.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Tyagi AK, Malik A. Liquid and vapour-phase antifungal activities of selected essential oils against Candida albicans: Microscopic observations and chemical characterization of Cymbopogon citratus. BMC Complement Altern Med 2010;10:65.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Rabbani SI, Devi K, Khanam S, Zahra N. Citral, a component of lemongrass oil inhibits the clastogenic effect of nickel chloride in mouse micronucleus test system. Pak J Pharm Sci 2006;19:108-13.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Edris AE. Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: A review. Phytother Res 2007;21:308-23.  Back to cited text no. 14


  [Figure 1]

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