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P. P. Joy
Baby P. Skaria
Samuel Mathew
Gracy Mathew
Ancy Joseph
P.P. Sreevidya
2006
KERALA AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY
AROMATIC AND MEDICINAL PLANTS RESEARCH STATION
Odakkali, Asamannoor-683 562, Ernakulam District, Kerala, India
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881
Email: amprs@satyam.net.in, Website: www.kau.edu/amprs
Preface
Lemongrass is a tropical perennial plant which yields aromatic oil. Aromatic or essential oils
are highly concentrated secondary metabolites of diverse functions in plant system. They constitute
hundreds of organic compounds including terpenoids, benzenoids, organic sulphur and nitrogenuous
compounds, which work at different levels. The name lemongrass is derived from the typical lemony
odour of the essential oil present in the shoot. Lemongrass oil of commerce is popularly known as
Cochin oil in the world trade, since 90% of it is shipped from Cochin port. The state of Kerala in India
had the monopoly in the production and export of lemongrass oil. The annual world production of
lemongrass oil is around 1000 t from an area of 16000 ha. In India, it is cultivated in about 4000 ha
and the annual production is around 250 t. The crop is extensively cultivated in poor, marginal and
waste lands and also along the bunds as live mulch. The well ramified root system of the plant helps in
soil and water conservation.
Dried lemongrass leaves are widely used as a lemon flavour ingredient in herbal teas,
prepared either by decoction or infusion of 2-3 leaves in 250 or 500 ml of water and other
formulations. Lemongrass tea is a diuretic and imparts no biochemical changes to the body in
comparison with the ordinary tea. Lemongrass iced tea is prepared by steeping several stalks in a few
quarts of boiling water. This can also be combined with green or black teas.
Lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cookery. When Thai food was embraced in the US,
lemongrass became a household name. A little experimentation with this delightfully fragrant herb is
all it takes to realize that it can be used in many more ways than just in Asian dishes. A simple syrup
made by steeping lemongrass in a mix of equal parts hot water and sugar can be used to enhance fruit
salads or to make home made soda by mixing it with seltzer. A blend of lemongrass, garlic, ginger and
oil will be stable in the freezer during winter. This paste can be fried until fragrant and then cooked
down with a can of coconut milk (strain to remove tough lemongrass fibres) for delicious sauce for
noodle, vegetable or seafood dishes.
Lemongrass oil is used in culinary flavouring. It is used in most of the major categories of food
including alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy baked foods, gelatines
and puddings, meat and meat products and fat and oils. It is used to improve the flavour of some fish
and can be used to flavour wines, sauces etc. Lemongrass oleoresin is mainly used in flavouring foods,
drinks and bakery preparations.
Traditionally lemongrass is developed for perfumery with emphasis on citral content. The
largest collection of lemongrass germplasm at AMPRS, Odakkali offers immense scope for the
identification and development of types most suitable for flavouring. This promotes product
diversification in lemongrass industry necessitating increased area and production under lemongrass.
The growers are also benefited as the crop serves dual functions of producing both essential oil and
oleoresin required by the fragrance and flavouring industry fetching better net returns. As these
products have higher export demand, it will also benefit the national exchequer.
This is a compendium of information on lemongrass collected from varying sources. We hope
that this will serve as a concise and authentic source of basic information on all aspects of lemongrass
cultivation and utilization. It is intended to be an excellent practical manual and reference material for
students, researchers, entrepreneurs, extension personnel, farmers and all concerned with lemongrass.
We are very thankful to Prof. K.V. Peter, Ex-Vice-Chancellor, Dr. D. Alexander, Director of
Research, Dr. L. Rajamony, Associate Director of Research (M&E), Kerala Agricultural University
and Dr. P. V. Balachandran, Associate Director of Research (Central Region), Regional Agricultural
Research Station, Pattambi for their constant encouragement and guidance. We are deeply indebted to
Dr. J. Thomas, Director (Research), Spices Board (Former Head, AMPRS, Odakkali) without whose
untiring commitment, constant encouragement and immense help, this publication would not have been
a success. We profusely thank all the staff of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station who
have put in their best for this work. All Glory to God Almighty.
Authors
CONTENTS
Page
Preface
1 Introduction 1
2 Species and varieties 1
2.1 Cymbopogon flexuosus (Nees ex Steud) Wats. (2n=20, 40). 1
2.2 Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf. (2n=40, 60) 1
2.3 Cymbopogon pendulus (Nees ex Steud) Wats. 1
3 Origin and distribution 3
4 Cultivation and production 3
4.1 Climate 3
4.2 Soil 3
4.3 Cultivated varieties 4
4.4 Propagation 5
4.5 Nursery raising 6
4.6 Transplanting 6
4.7 Manuring 6
4.8 Irrigation 7
4.9 Weed control 7
4.10 Intercropping 8
4.11 Plant protection 8
4.11.1 Pests and their management 8
4.11.2 Diseases and their management 8
4.12 Harvesting of the herb 9
4.13 Seed collection 9
4.14 Processing 9
4.14.1 Distillation 9
4.14.2 Solvent extraction 11
4.14.3 Spent grass 12
5 Physiology and Biochemistry 12
6 Chemical composition 12
6.1 Chemical composition of herb 12
6.2 Chemical composition of essential oil 13
6.3 Chemical composition of oleoresin 15
7 Uses in food processing 15
7.1 Uses of herb 15
7.1.1 Herbal teas 15
7.1.2 Health food 16
7.2 Uses of essential oil 18
7.3 Uses of oleoresin 18
8 Functional properties 18
8.1 Functional properties of herb 18
8.2 Functional properties of essential oil 18
8.3 Functional properties of oleoresin 19
9 Quality issues 19
9.1 Quality of essential oil 19
9.1.1 Routine physical tests 20
9.1.2 Chemical tests 20
9.1.3 Test methods defined in food chemicals codex III 21
9.1.4 Industrial methods 21
9.1.5 Determination of citral in lemongrass oil (Sodium
metabisulphite method)
21
9.1.6 Determination of assay of sodium metabisulphite 22
9.2 Quality of oleoresin 23
10 References 23
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 1
1 Introduction
Lemongrass is a tropical perennial plant which yields aromatic oil. The name lemongrass is derived
from the typical lemon-like odour of the essential oil present in the shoot. The herb originated in
Asia and Australia. Lemongrass was one of the herbs to travel along the spice route from Asia to
Europe. Lemongrass oil of commerce is popularly known as Cochin oil in the world trade, since
90% of it is shipped from Cochin port. The state of Kerala in India had the monopoly in the
production and export of lemongrass oil. The annual world production of lemongrass oil is around
1000 t from an area of 16000 ha. In India, it is cultivated in an area of 4000 ha and the annual
production is around 250 t. The crop is extensively cultivated in the poor, marginal and waste lands
and also along the bunds as live mulch. The well ramified root system of the plant helps in soil and
water conservation.
2 Species and varieties
Lemongrass belongs to the family Graminae (Poaceae) and the genus Cymbopogon. Generally,
three species are identified (Gupta, 1969; Chandra and Narayanan, 1971).
2.1 Cymbopogon flexuosus (Nees ex Steud) Wats. (2n=20, 40)
It is known as East Indian, Cochin or Malabar grass. C. flexuosus is a tufted robust perennial grass
of about 2 m height. The leaves are linear and lanceolate. It flowers freely. The inflorescence is very
large and highly branched terminal drooping panicle bearing paired spikes on tertiary branches. The
spikes bear spikelets in pairs of which one is sessile and the other pedicellate. The sessile spikelet is
an awned bisexual floret where as the pedicellate is an awnless staminate floret. Under this species
two varieties or types are identified based on the colour of stem.
C. flexuosus var. flexuosus – It is red grass. The stem and leaf sheath are reddish or purple in colour.
It is recognized as the true lemongrass and is commercially cultivated (Fig. 1.1-3). The essential oil
contains more than 75-80% citral, exhibits good solubility in alcohol and hence is superior in
quality (Guenther, 1950). The geranial rich variants of C. flexuosus with high oil content could be
useful as additional sources of geraniol and not as an alternative to geraniol from C. martinii
(Kulkarni et al, 1996).
C. flexuosus var. albescens – This white grass is characterized by the white colour of the stem. The
plant is normally seen wild. The essential oil contains less than 65-70% citral, exhibits poor alcohol
solubility and is hence considered inferior in quality.
2.2 Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf. (2n=40, 60)
It is known as West Indian or American lemongrass. It is a stemless perennial grass with numerous
stiff tillers arising from short rhizomatous rootstock, making large tussocks. It seldom flowers under
cultivation. Leaf blade is narrow, linear, glaucous, drooping with scabrous margin, ligule truncate,
inflorescence rarely produced, a large loose panicle; spathe bracts long and narrow, sessile
spikelets, awnless , linear, lanceolate. The essential oil contains 74-76% citral and exhibits poor
solubility.
2.3 Cymbopogon pendulus (Nees ex Steud) Wats.
It is Jammu lemongrass and is white stemmed and dwarf in nature. The plant is frost resistant and
suited to Sub-Himalayan areas of North India. The essential oil contains around 75-80% citral and
exhibits medium solubility in alcohol (Joy et al, 2001).
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 2
1. Lemongrass
in full bloom
2. A lemongrass plant
with leaves, leaf sheath, stem
and inflorescence separated
3. Lemongrass seed
4. Lemongrass planting
in progress
5. Lemongrass plantation
ready for cutting and distillation
6. Field distillation unit
7. Clevenger
apparatus for
lab distillation
8. SOXTEC SYSTEM 2043
FOSS Analytical AS, France
for solvent extraction of oleoresin
9. HPLC and GLC systems
for quality evaluation
Fig. 1 Lemongrass plant, cultivation, extraction and quality evaluation systems
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 3
3 Origin and distribution
Lemongrass is distributed in Africa, Indian subcontinent, South America, Australia, Europe and
North America. In India, they grow wild in all regions extending from sea level to an altitude of
4200 m. Several species are endemic to India. East Indian Lemongrass grows wild in India and is
cultivated well in Kerala, Assam, Maharashtra and Uttarpradesh. It is also distributed in Guatemala
and China. West Indian lemongrass is believed to have originated either in Malaysia or in Sri
Lanka. It is widely distributed throughout the tropics and is grown in West Indies, Guatemala,
Brazil, Congo, Tanzania, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Madagascar and China. Jammu lemongrass
is mostly confined to North Indian states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Assam, Bengal and
Madhya Pradesh (Handa, 2001). Lemongrass is cultivated on large scale at Chinnar wildlife
sanctuary in the Western Ghats of India (Nair and Jayakumar, 1999).Traditionally lemongrass is
grown in high rainfall area as a rainfed crop in Kerala state. But under semi-arid tropical conditions,
it is grown as irrigated crop (Singh, 1999).
4 Cultivation and production
4.1 Climate
C. flexuosus and C. citratus flourish in sunny, warm, humid conditions of the tropics. In Kerala,
lemongrass grows well between 900 and 1250 m from mean sea level. Both species produce highest
oil yield per tonne of herbage where the rainfall averages 2500-3000mm annually. C. citratus is
more drought tolerant (Weiss, 1997). In areas where rainfall is poor, it can be grown with
supplemental irrigation. Day temperature of 25-30°C is considered optimum for maximum oil
production, with no extremely low night temperature. Short periods above 30°C have little general
effect on plants, but severely reduce oil content. The plant is hardy and resistant to draught.
Maximum plant height was recorded during rainy season and least during second harvest non- rainy
season. The yield of oil fluctuates greatly with the season, the condition of the plant material, its
moisture content and the age of planting (Singh, 1999). The effect of seasonal changes in oil
content of lemongrass was investigated during the year 1979-1980. The role of many environmental
components like temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and soil moisture on the variation of oil
content under the agroclimatic condition of North Eastern region is discussed. The monsoon span is
characterized by higher oil content, while the winter and autumn by comparatively lower oil
content. However, the above major environmental components individually seem to have no direct
relationship with the oil content. The influence exerted by the climatic factors is cumulative in
exertion (Handique et al, 1984).
Four field experiments were conducted under the semi-arid tropical climate of Andhra Pradesh to
study the response of different varieties of lemongrass to NPK fertilizer applications under different
spacings. The improved cultivars Cauvery and Pragati outyielded the existing, widely cultivated
variety OD-19 in respect of essential oil yield consecutively for two years, hence could be
recommended for large scale cultivation under irrigated conditions in the semi-arid tropical climate.
Lemongrass responded to application of 100 kg N/ha under irrigated conditions and 75 to 80 kg
N/ha under rainfed condition. Essential oil concentrations and quality were not affected by N
application. Lemongrass did not respond to application of P and K fertilizers or to different plant
spacing under rainfed condition. Biomass and essential oil recovery was maximum during summer
season harvest in all the varieties and the results were identical for two consecutive years (Rao et al,
1998).
4.2 Soil
Lemongrass flourishes in a wide variety of soil ranging from rich loam to poor laterite. In sandy
loam and red soils, it requires good manuring. Calcareous and water-logged soils are unsuitable for
its cultivation (Farooqi and Sreeramu, 2001). Both species can be grown on a range of soils and it
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 4
appears that good drainage is the most important factor. Plants growing in sandy soils have higher
leaf oil yield and citral content. Although C. flexuosus flourishes in well drained sandy loams but in
India, it is grown in almost all types of land available from very light sandy soil to upland laterites.
Soils of pH 5.5 to 7.5 are utilized. C. citratus is more commonly grown on soils with higher acidity
than C. flexuosus. In India, the highest herb and oil yields per hectare of C. flexuosus are obtained in
soils of pH 7.5. Lemongrass will grow and produce average herbage and oil yields on highly saline
soils. In pot trials C. flexuosus grown in soils with electrical conductivity of 11.5,10 and 5.5
mmhos/cm showed no significant reduction in herb and oil yield and the citral content was
unaffected by increasing salinity levels up to 15 mmhos/cm (Weiss, 1997). It grows well on poor
soils along hill slopes (Ranade, 2004). Behura et al (1991) studied the performance of five aromatic
cymbopogon species – palmrosa, jamrosa, citronella, C. pendulas and C. flexuosus in chromite
overburden soil of Kaliapani, Orissa. The findings on growth parameters, herb and oil yield of this
species for six successive cuttings at RRL Bhuveneswar showed that in herb yield and economics of
oil production, the natural hybrid jamrosa was found to be the suitable cymbopogon grass for
plantation in chromite overburden area.
Some essential oil yielding plants (Cymbopogon sp., Pogostemon sp. and Matricaria sp.) have been
tried to introduce in the agro climatic conditions of the Gangetic plains of Hooghly district, West
Bengal. Agrotechnological studies clearly revealed the possibility of commercial cultivation of
Cymbopogon (C. flexuosus, C. martinii and C. winterianus). C. flexuosus (OD-19) crop proved to
be promising, showing better growth, oil yield and oil quality and the crop might be commercially
exploited in this area for diversification of crop pattern and upliftment of rural economy (Ghosh,
1989).
4.3 Cultivated varieties
Lemongrass varieties released for cultivation are Sugandhi, Pragati, Praman, RRL-16, CKP-25,
RRL-39, Kavery, Krishna, SD-68, GRL-1 (Farooqi and Sreeramu, 2001) and SB-9 (Patra et al,
1999).
Sugandhi (OD-19): Released from the Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS),
Odakkali, Kerala, India. A red stemmed variety adapted to a wide range of soil and climatic
conditions and most popular in India. The plant grows to a height of 1-1.75 m with profuse tillering,
yielding 35-40 t/ha/year herb containing 0.3% oil (125 kg/ha) with 80-85% citral under rain-fed
condition (Joy et al, 2001).
Pragati (LS-48): Evolved through clonal selection from OD-19 at Central Institute of Medicinal and
Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, India. It is tall growing with dark purple leaf sheath, adapted
to North Indian Plains and Tarai belt of subtropical and tropical climate. Average oil content is
0.63% with 86% citral (Sharma et al, 1987).
Praman (Clone 29): It is evolved through clonal selection at CIMAP, Lucknow and belongs to
species C. pendulus. It is a tetraploid type with profuse tillering. Leaves are erect and medium in
size. Oil yield is 227 kg/ha/annum with 82% citral content (Anon, 1988).
RRL-16: It is evolved from C. Pendulus and released for cultivation from Regional Research
Laboratory (RRL), Jammu, India. Average yield of herb is 15 to 20 t/ha/annum giving 100 to 110
kg oil. Oil content varies from 0.6 to 0.8% and citral content is 80% (Anon, 1983).
SD-68: Developed by SC Datta, using ionizing radiation yielded up to 375 kg of oil/ha/year with a
citral content of 90-92 % (Nair, 1977).
RRL-39: Released from RRL, Jammu.
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 5
Kavery and Krishna: Released from CIMAP Regional Station, Bangalore, India. Krishna has longer
and narrow looking leaves when compared with other C. flexuosus varieties, Cauvery, pragati and
OD-19 (Kulkarni et al, 1997).
Chirharit: A high yielding variety, developed by systematic breeding for genetic improvement at
Pantnagar, Chirharit, India. It is frost resistant and the essential oil contains 81% citral (Patra et al,
2001).
RLJ-TC-7, RLJ-TC-8, RLJ-TC-11: Released from RRL Jorhat. These three accessions shows
higher percentage of geraniol and oil, and may be considered as geraniol rich varieties, that can be
grown under North – East Indian climatic conditions for production of oil. (Sharma, Sarma and
Handique, 2005)
Lemongrass germplasm consisting of about 406 accessions is maintained at AMPRS, Odakkali.
There are 17 other types in the germplasm in which the major constituent of the oil is not citral.
4.4 Propagation
Lemongrass is generally propagated through seeds. Seed is mixed with dry river sand in the ratio of
1:3 and sown in the field at the rate of 20 to 25 kg/ha. Alternatively, seedlings can be raised in a
nursery in one-tenth of the area of the main field and transplanted after 45 days. This method which
requires 3-4 kg seeds/ha is ideal for uniform stand and better growth of the plants. Small plantation
of lemongrass can be established by planting of slips.
C. flexuosus is propagated through seeds while C. citratus is propagated through division of clumps
(Anon, 1981). Hussain and co-workers (1988) reported that propagation through vegetative means
from selected clones was considered better as seed propagation tended to cause considerable genetic
heterogeneity resulting in deterioration of yield and oil quality and clonal proliferation played a
very important role in the propagation of lemongrass. In a number of field experiments, the growing
population of geranium, menthol-peppermint and palmrosa, citronella and lemongrass were sprayed
with varying amount of salicylic acid once or twice. It was observed that salicylic acid application
did not affect the herbage and essential oil yields as well as the quality of essential oil in all these
essential oil crops examined (Ram et al, 1997).
Genetic variability and trait interrelationship were studied in an open pollinated seed population
produced from the OD-19 variety of lemongrass. Large amount of variability was found to exist
with regard to oil content, herb yield, plant height, number of tillers, leaf length and breadth, leaf
pubescence and pigmentation on leaf base sheath. Studies indicated that oil content was not related
in its expression to any of the above traits. It was found that herb yield was positively correlated
with tallness, larger number of tillers/plant and long and broad leaves (Nair et al, 1984).
Seeds of lemongrass variety OD-19 were subjected to gamma irradiation at a dose range of 0-30 k
rad and its effect on yield attributes was studied. Among the six doses tried, 20 k rad dose effected
significant increase in citral percentage than achieved by 10 k rad dose (Shylaraj and Thomas,
1988).
A study was conducted for two years to test the performance of clonal and seedling progenies of
lemongrass type, OD-440. From a two year study of the comparative performance of the seedlings
progenies and clonal progenies raised using the slips of parents; it was conclusively proved that this
type was a stabilized one. Hence the fluff of the type could also be used for cultivation just like slips
without affecting the quality of the type (Shylaraj, 1988)
Field trials on lemongrass C. citratus and C. flexousus were conducted from 1979 to 1983 to test the
effect of plant to plant spacings of 15 cm and 22.5 cm with four levels of nitrogen viz, 0, 20, 40 and
60 kg/ha. There was no significant effect of spacings on C. citratus. Increasing levels of N
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 6
increased the yield up to 60 kg N/ha. In C. flexousus closer spacing of 15 cm significantly gave
higher yield. Increasing levels of nitrogen up to 60 kg N /ha significantly increased the herbage
yield (Prasad and Rao, 1986).
Studies at CIMAP Lucknow showed that cultivation of perennial lemongrass, palmrosa and Indian
basil could be suggested for the efficient utilization of natural resources and higher economic
returns from rain fed areas of sub- tropical North India (Singh et al, 1999).
4.5 Nursery raising
For one hectare of land, 1000 m2 nursery has to be raised. The area is made to good tilth by repeated
ploughing. Beds of 1 to1.5 m width and convenient length are prepared. The recommended seed
rate is 3-4 kg/ha. The seeds are uniformly broadcasted on the beds and are covered with a thin layer
of soil. The seed bed is irrigated frequently. Lemongrass seeds have a dormancy of a few weeks and
they lose viability in a few months. The seeds collected during the months of January-February are
usually sown in the nursery during April-May. Seeds germinate in 5-7 days. Seed viability will be
lost in a few months. Germination is very poor if sown after October.
4.6 Transplanting
The seedlings raised in the nursery beds are transplanted in the field at 6-7 leaf stage. 50-70 days
old seedlings are planted during the monsoon season (Fig.1.4). A spacing of 30 cm x 30 cm with a
plant density of 111 000/ha is recommended. A wider spacing of 60 cm x 45 cm for seedlings and
90 cm x 60 cm for slips has been recommended for fertile, irrigated land under North Indian
conditions (Farooqi et al, 1999). Lemongrass was tested with three spacings and different fertility
levels under poplar for its performance in Kumaon foot hills for two years. The spacing of 45 cm x
45 cm and fertility level of N250 P100 K180 were proved to be superior in respect of number of tillers ,
plant height, herbage yield and oil yield when compared to other treatments in the first and second
year, respectively. The oil content and quality of the oil was similar in all the treatments (Yadava
and Singh, 1996).
4.7 Manuring
Spent lemongrass compost at 10 t /ha and wood ash at 2 t /ha, which are obtained as by-products of
grass distillation, are applied at the time of bed formation (Hussain et al, 1998). Lemongrass
requires 275 kg N, 50 kg P2O5 and 175 kg K2O/ha/annum. Under rainfed conditions of Kerala,
application of 100 kg N in 3 to 4 split doses was found to be optimum though a response up to 200
kg was recorded. The application of 50 kg/ha each of P2O5 and K2O as a basal dose gave
encouraging results in West Bengal. It is recommended to apply 60:45:35 kg /ha N, P2O5 and K2O
basally and 60 kg N in 3 to 4 splits /annum as top dressing during the growing season as an
optimum dose. It also responds well to the application of copper, iron, calcium and sulphur. It was
reported from CIMAP, Lucknow that a lower dose of boron (2.5 ppm) in combination with chloride
salts (chloride salinity) can be beneficial for the crop (Farooqi and Sreeramu, 2001).
In chromate overburdened soil, application of lime at 6 t/ha and fertilizer at 100 kg N, 50 kg P2O5
and 50 kg K2O/ha produced higher plant height, tiller number and herb yield of C. pendulus
(Behura et al, 1998).
Soluble nitrogen fraction and total carbohydrate content increased essential oil content. Pattern of
formation of citral in C. flexuosus oil revealed that the constituents increased up to reproductive
phase and then declined, it again increased after post-reproductive phase of the plant. Optimum
application of fertilizers increased the citral content of the oil (Ghosh and Chatterjee, 1991). Excess
fertilizer application is undesirable as it promotes more vegetative growth and oil with less citral
content (Joy et al, 2001). The content and chemical composition of lemongrass oil were not affected
by nitrogen application. Performance of lemongrass varieties at varying nitrogen level showed that
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
Tel: 0484-2658221, Fax: 0484-2659881, E-mail: amprs@satyam.net.in, amprskau@gmail.com, Website:www.kau.edu/amprs 7
application of 200 kg N/ha and variety Krishna gave significantly higher yield than other varieties.
Application of nitrogen fertilizers increased the herb yield significantly in all the five years (Singh,
2000).
A simple randomized field experiment was conducted at Aligarh, with eight levels of basal nitrogen
doses and three harvests to study the effects on height, culms, leaves, fresh and dry weight, herb
yield, oil content, oil yield and citral content of lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus Nees ex Steud
wats. var. flexuosus). Application of nitrogen showed significant effect with 300 kg N/ha proving
optimum for almost all characters under study (Samiullah et al, 1988).
A field experiment was conducted during 1991-1993 at Banglore to study the response of
lemongrass cv. Cauvery (C. flexuosus Steud. Wats.) to nitrogen applications (0, 50, 100, and 150 kg
N/ha/year)under irrigated conditions in a semi-arid tropical climate. Growth attributes namely plant
height, leaf area index and tiller production per clump, herbage and oil yield were significantly
increased with 100 kg N/ha. Oil content and quality of oil were not affected by nitrogen (Singh and
Singh, 1998).
4.8 Irrigation
In case of drought, the crop should be irrigated every alternate day for about a month after planting.
It is recommended that 4 to 6 irrigations are given during the period from February to June under
North Indian conditions, for optimum yield. Soil moisture regimes maintained at 0.80 IW: CPE
ratio significantly increased crop growth, herbage and essential oil yields. Quality of the essential
oil is not affected by soil moisture regimes (Singh et al, 1997). A study at CIMAP field station
Bangalore showed that growth, herbage, oil yield and nitrogen uptake increased due to increased
levels of water regimes except nitrogen utilization efficiency during rainy season (Singh, 1997).
Another study at CIMAP field station Bangalore showed that plant growth characters, herbage and
oil yield were influenced by the irrigation level (Singh, 2000). Eleven genotypes belonging to three
species of Cymbopogon -flexousus, pendulas and martini var.motia were subjected to unirrigated
and irrigated conditions of soil and compared for their performance of economic traits and pooled
divergence. Herb yield and oil yield suffered the most and leaf width and citral content of oil the
least under stress (Pandey et al, 1998).
At CIMAP Luknow, fourteen genotypes belonging to five species of Cymbopogon C. flexusous, C.
pendulas, C. martinii. var. motia, C. winterianus and C. caesius were subjected to irrigated and
non- irrigated moisture regimes, to screen out potential genotypes having tolerance to water stress
and understand the behaviour of stress tolerance. The interspecific comparison to stress tolerance
revealed reduction of performance for early vigour, tillering vigours, growth vigours and production
vigour in all the species except C. martini for oil yield. The response of different varieties /
genotypes to unirrigated regime in terms of percentage loss in vigour was -21.1 to -42.7% for early
vigour and -10.5 to -51.2 % for tillering vigour( Misra et al, 1999).
4.9 Weed control
The first 25-30 days after planting (or harvest) is the crop-weed competition period. For a good
establishment of the crop, the field should be kept weed free for the initial period of 3-4 months
after planting. Once the crop is well established, it can compete with weeds.
Generally, 2-3 weeding are necessary in a year. Among herbicides, diuron at 1.5 kg ai/ha and
oxyfluorfen at 1.5 kg ai/ha are effective for weed control (Hussain et al, 1988). Duhan and Gulati
(1973) and Khosla (1979) observed a significant control of dicot weeds with the application of 2-4-
D (sodium salt). They also suggested spraying paraquat at 2-2.5 l/ha in 500 l of water immediately
after cutting the grass as an excellent method of weed control.
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Under rain-fed conditions, the field gives a dried appearance during the summer months of Dec –
May. The dry grass and stubbles of the crop is set on fire in May, prior to the onset of monsoon.
This practice kills the termites attacking crop stubbles and also helps to rejuvenate the old clumps.
4.10 Intercropping
The plant does not tolerate shade and oil yield is drastically reduced when the crop is grown under
diffused light (Pareek and Gupta, 1985). Studies at AMPRS, Odakkali indicated poor tillering, lean
and lanky growth and reduced oil yield when the crop is grown as intercrop in coconut gardens; the
oil content was also found to be reduced by 20%. In contrast, intercropping in cinnamon plantation
which is regularly pruned for extraction of bark and leaf oil was found to be profitable. In new
plantations of cashew, mango and coconut, lemongrass is cultivated during the initial 4 to 5 years of
plantation establishment. C. citratus is seldom intercropped or under-planted. An interesting
method of integrating C. flexuosus into plantations of other crops was proposed for Bangladesh, but
not widely implemented (Khan, 1979). C. citratus has been under-planted in young rubber
plantations in Malaysia and elsewhere to help defray cost of plantation establishment. Pratibha and
Korwar (2003) suggested lemongrass for crop diversification in semi-arid regions.
Agroforestry trials were conducted at the CIMAP field station Pantnagar, Nainital, for five
consecutive years on performance of aromatic crops such as lemongrass (C. flexuosus), citronella
java (C. winterianus), palmrosa (C. martini) and japanese mint (Mentha arvensis) in eucalyptus
plantation. Results indicated that performance of lemongrass was the best with respect to sustained
herb and oil productivity during entire growth period. This raised the possibility of co-cultivation of
poplar and aromatic crops especially lemongrass would be an ideal adjunct to ensure high nutrient
recycling in soil for a productive and sustained agro-forestry system. (Chauhan et al, 1997).
4.11 Plant protection
4.11.1 Pests and their management
Few pests are reported in this crop. The infestation by the spindle bug (Clovia bipunctata) has been
observed at Odakkali and severe damage by a stem boring caterpillar of Chilotrea sp. under North
Indian conditions have been reported. Spraying malathion (0.2%) can control the insects.
Nematodes like Tylenchorhynchus vulgaris, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Helicotylenchus spp. and
Pratylenchus spp. have also been found to infect the grass.
4.11.2 Diseases and their management
The common diseases and their causal agents are given in Table 1. These leaf diseases can be
managed by prophylactic sprays of dithane Z-78 @ 3g/l thrice, at intervals of 15 days.
Table 1. Common diseases of lemongrass and their causal agents
Disease Causal organism
Little leaf (malformation of inflorescence) Balensia sclerotica (Pat) Hohnel
Leaf spot (eye spot) Helminthosporium saccharii,
H. leucostylum, Drechslera victoria and D. helm
Leaf spot Curvularia andropogonia (CLS)
Leaf spot C. veruciformis, C. trifolii and
Collitotrichum graminicola
Leaf spot and clump rot Fusarium equiseti and F. verticillium
Leaf blight Curvularia andropogonia (CLB)
Leaf blight Rhyzoctonia solani.
Grey blight Pestalotiopsis magniferae
Smut Tolyposporium christensenni and
Ustilago andropogonis
Root rot Botrydiplodia theobromae
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Helminthosporium cymbopogi caused very serious disease in the low lands of Guatemala. Brown
top disease causes browning and curling of affected leaves. This is a physiological disease resulting
from the low water content of the grass at the end of the dry season. Symptoms of rust disease of
lemongrass causing elongated, stripe like, dark brown lesions on both sides of leaf surfaces have
been described. The causal organism is Puccinia nakanishikii (Koike and Molinar, 1999). Root
segment of lemongrass were heavily infested with multiple vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza
(VAM). Moreover, brown septate hyphae of non-mycorrhizal fungus also co-existed with VAM in
50% of root segments (Hussain and Ali, 1995). Burning of stubbles in summer is practised in some
areas to ward off pests, diseases and weeds. Fifteen resistant and one susceptible accessions were
identified among the available genetic stocks of lemongrass against rust, Puccinia nakanishikii. The
behaviour of the F2 generation plants arising from spontaneous crosses between the resistant and
susceptible accession showed that the susceptible accession harboured recessive alleles of the genes
present in dominant allelic forms in the resistant accession (Singh et al, 1999)
4.12 Harvesting of the herb
Harvesting is done by cutting the grass 10 cm above the ground level, with the help of sickles. The
number of harvests in a year depends on the climatological factors such as temperature, rainfall and
humidity and level of soil fertility. Generally the crop thrives best in humid condition (Handa,
1997).
Cutting can begin as soon as the nights dews have evaporated from the plants, as wet grass left for
later distillation quickly ferments. Sunny days are preferable, since cloudy and misty conditions
tend to depress leaf oil content.
Chandra et al (1970) have suggested first harvest at 75 days after planting, second at 120-130 days
after first harvest and the third at150-160 days after second harvest. However, Nair et al (1979) and
Shiva (1998) have suggested that first harvest can be taken at 90 days after planting and subsequent
harvest at 50-55 days interval up to 5-6 years from the same crop (Fig.1.5). Rao et al (2005)
reported five months for the citral content to reach a maximum for the first and the sixth harvest.
During the first year of planting, three cuttings are obtained and subsequently 5-6 cuttings per year
(Subramanyam and Gajanana, 2001). The harvesting season begins in May and continues till the
end of January. An herbage yield of 10-15 t/ha/harvest may be obtained. The herb yield of
lemongrass differed significantly between years. The yield in the second year was significantly
higher than that of the first, third, fourth and fifth year (Singh, 2000).
4.13 Seed collection
Lemongrass kept for seed purpose is not cut as yield of seeds from plants subjected to regular
harvest is very low. Generally, the plant flowers during November/December in plains and mature
seeds are collected during January / February. A healthy plant gives 10 to 20 g of seeds. The whole
inflorescence is cut and dried in the sun and seeds are collected by thrashing against the floor or
beating with sticks. Fresh seeds are recommended for use in raising a plantation since the seeds lose
viability beyond six months of storage. Seed germination is very poor till May, increases up to July
and thereafter decreases. Germination is meager beyond October (Thomas, 1995).
4.14 Processing
4.14.1 Distillation
Lemongrass oil is collected by steam distillation of the herbage. Experiments with the Western
Indian type of lemongrass in Florida, Hood found that drying of the grass prior to distillation result
in only small loss of oil. The solubility of oils distilled from dried grass decreased more rapidly on
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aging than the solubility of oils distilled from fresh material (Guenther, 1950). There are three types
of distillation.
Hyrodistillation: This method is used when plant material is dried and will not be damaged by
boiling. In this method the material comes in direct contact with water (Guenther, 1958). The
material to be distilled is put in a vessel partly filled with water. It may float on the water or be
completely immersed, depending on the specific gravity of herb. The vessel is heated by any of the
usual methods i.e., direct fire, steam jacket, closed steam coil, etc.
Hydro and Steam distillation: This method is used for either fresh or dried plant material that would
be damaged by boiling. The most important aspect of this method is that the steam remains at low
pressure which keeps the process cooler than the other method of distillation (Ranade, 2001). In this
method, the plant material is loaded on a grid fitted at some distance above the bottom of the still.
The lower part of the still is filled with water to a level below the grid. The typical features of this
method are (a) the steam is always fully saturated, wet and never superheated and (b) the plant
material is in contact with the steam only and not with the boiling water.
Steam distillation: In this method, no water is added to the still. Instead, saturated or superheated
steam is introduced through open or perforated steam coils below the charge.
The distillate separates out as a layer of oil, distinct from a layer of water (Fig.1.6). For obtaining
good quality oil, steam distillation in stainless steel units is preferred with a steam pressure of 18-32
kg/cm2 in the boiler. The grass is distilled either fresh or after wilting. Wilting herbage prior to
distilling reduces moisture content and increases oil recovery. Drying in the sun reduces oil
recovery but has little effect on oil composition. Generally, Clevenger apparatus (Fig.1.7) is used
for distilling small quantities (up to 1.0 kg) of the herb in the laboratory. Large field scale
distillation units (Fig.1.6) could be fabricated to distill 500 kg or more of the herb at a time. On an
average the herbage of C. flexuosus contains 0.2-0.4% oil and the oil yield is 100-125 kg/ha/year.
Oil of lemongrass is a viscous liquid, yellow to dark yellow or dark amber in colour turning red
with age. Presence of water makes a turbid appearance. Differentiation of lemongrass oils as West
Indian or East Indian in trade is not significant as oils from both the species are produced in both
the areas. The main difference is that West Indian oil has less citral and more myrcene than the East
Indian oil. Both oils have a pronounced fresh lemony odour but that of East Indian is stronger
(Kamath et al, 2001). East Indian is considered fresher, lighter and sweeter. Whole oil is mainly
used as a source of citral.
Morphological characters like plant height, number of tillers/plant and number of leaves/plant
exhibited significant correlation with essential oil yield/plant at flowering stage. Maximum elimicin
content of 50%, as a major chemical constituent of oil had also been observed at flowering stage.
Among the physiological characters, a significant correlation was observed between essential oil
content and crop growth rate (r=0.6018) as well as net assimilation rate (r=0.9474).
Gupta et al (1987) reported that oil content in lemongrass was 0.29% and 0.63% on fresh and dry
weight basis, respectively. Nair and Shekharan (1974) also observed similar oil content in this crop.
Values of specific gravity and refractive index of oil are comparable to Indian standard for oil of
lemongrass, IS327. Citral content (82%) is higher than that of the recommendation of Indian
Standard.
Studies of Kurian et al (1984) on the effect of antioxidant on the preservation of citral content in
lemongrass oil showed that most of the anti-oxidants change the colour of the oil to some darker
shade making it difficult to measure the optical activity. This change was found to be aggravated on
aging. The odour is also found to be modified to some extent with the effect of these anti-oxidants.
The specific gravity in most of the treatments was enhanced above the specific range also this was
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true with the control. Refractive Index and solubility of the oil in 70 % alcohol were not much
volatile.
If stored in aluminium or stainless steel vessel out of contact of air, water and light, the quality of
oil is stable for long periods of time. The following care is taken to protect the essential oil from
deterioration on long time storage.
1. The essential oil should be pre- treated to remove metallic impurities.
2. The oil should be clarified by NaCl treatment.
3. Small amount of oil may be stored in hard or dark coloured glass bottles, while large
quantities should be stored in heavily tinned metal containers.
4. The oil should be stored at a place away from light (Raina et al, 1998).
The study of the effect of seasonal changes on essential oil yield, growth, absicic acid content and
14C acetate incorporation in the oil of lemongrass showed that growth was inhibited in the winter
season. ABA content and 14C acetate incorporation increased during winter but was at a low level in
the actively growing plants in summer. However, variations in essential oil content were not
observed (Farroqi et al, 1998).
Absorption and emission spectra of the oil of Cymbopogon species (C. martini, C. winterianus. C.
flexuosus, C. microstachys and C. jwarnacusa) have been recorded in the visible and ultraviolet
region using Beckmann DU 70 spectrophotometer and JY 3cs spectrofluorometer respectively.
Results reveal that although the same group of organic compounds dominate in all the oil, C.
flexuosus, C. microstachys and C. jwarnacusa contain some additional organic compounds. Two
different natures of the excited states have been identified (Rai and Singh, 1991).
Ten different essential oils were taken for testing them against eight dermatophytes, which were
known to cause skin infections. First of all the essential oils were tested separately for their efficacy
against dermatophytes and then they were tested in different combinations. It was concluded that
the antifungal activity of the essential oils increased remarkably in combination against
dermatophytes (Saksena and Saksena, 1984).
4.14.2 Solvent extraction
Lemongrass oleoresin can be extracted by following methods using different solvents.
Maceration- This involves macerating the plant material in a suitable solvent (eg. hexane), filtering
and concentrating the extract. The advantage of this method is that it uses cold solvent, which
reduces the chances of decomposition. However, it takes longer time and consumes greater volume
of solvent.
Percolation- In this method, the solvent is made to percolate through a column of the material. It is
quicker and uses less solvent, but decomposition due to heat may occur. Soxhlet extraction is a form
of continuous percolation with fresh solvent, and uses special glassware. The plant material is
separated from the extract by encasing in a paper ‘thimble’. When full, the solvent in the thimble
siphons off into the main vessel containing the extract and the process continues. The advantage is
that fresh solvent continuously extracts the marc more efficiently with a minimum of solvent;
however, heating is again a disadvantage (Fig.1.8).
Choice of solvent
If the type of compounds being isolated is known, selective solvent extraction will make the process
safer. If not, the usual way is to start with a non-polar solvent and exhaustively extract the marc,
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followed by a series of more polar solvents, until several extracts of increasing solute polarity are
obtained. These may then be used for further evaluations (Williamson et al, 1996).
4.14.3 Spent grass
The residue obtained after extraction of the oil is called spent grass. It can be used fresh as roughage
for cattle or used for ensilaging. It can be used for mulching or manuring crops as such or after
enriched composting. In some plantations in India, the spent lemongrass after drying is used as a
fuel for distillation. It is also a cheap packaging material. The spent lemongrass contains 7.4%
crude protein, 0.17% Ca and 0.09% P. It is also used for the manufacture of cardboard and paper
(Nair, 1977).
5 Physiology and Biochemistry
A quick and non- destructive method of leaf area estimation has been worked out by Joy and
Thomas (1990). A direct relationship between chlorophyll (influencing primary metabolism) and
odour bearing constituents (secondary metabolites) was noted (Sharma et al, 1988). Maffei et al
(1988) suggested that lemongrass may possess a C4 photosynthetic mechanism. The differential oil
and citral synthesis in specific genotypes over diverse seasons may be due to physiological
homeostasis as production of essential oil is the criterion of the homeostatic features of bioenergetic
balance as well as developmental feed back mechanism (Sharma et al, 1988). Application of Well
Bloom, a tricontanol containing growth regulator had no significant effect on oil yield and citral
content though a favourable effect on herbage yield was recorded (Sankar and Thomas, 1990).
Repeated application of 10 to 100 ppm of IAA, IBA, NAA or GA3 increased oil content
significantly though herbage yield and citral content were not affected. It was suggested that these
growth substances influenced the enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism which in turn ensured high
demand of hexoses required for essential oil synthesis (Anon, 1983).
Synthesis of terpenoids in plants takes place in secretory cells in leaves. It has been claimed that the
precursors of essential oils are obtained by the degradation of carbohydrate and proteins. Ghosh and
Chatterjee (1976) highlighted the phenomenon of decrease in total and protein nitrogen in the plant
concomitant with the increase in essential oil content as evidence to the above hypothesis. Steps
involved in the biosynthesis of monoterpenes were reviewed by Akhila and Nigam (1983).
Activities of mevalonate kinase and phosphomevalonate kinase in lemongrass leaves were reported
by Lalitha and Sharma (1986) which suggested the possibility of mevalonoid route to citral
synthesis. Verma et al (1987) suggested the presence of a geraniol citral enzyme complex
controlled by independent genes which have no competitive influence on each other in lemongrass.
Singh et al (1989) have shown that young expanding leaves are biogenetically more active and that
the leaf age and the leaf position are important factors for the amount and composition of the
essential oil. Singh and Luthra (1987) reported that the ability to synthesise oil and citral from 14C-
sucrose by lemongrass leaves decreased greatly much before full expansion. Soluble acid invertase
was the major enzyme in sucrose break down.
In order to specifically locate the sites of citral accumulation, the Schiff’s reagent that stains
aldehydes has been used. Using this technique, single oil accumulating cells were detected in the
abaxial side of leaf mesophyll, commonly adjacent to the non-photosynthetic tissue and between
vascular bundles. The cell walls of these cells are lignified (Lewinson et al, 1997).
6 Chemical composition
6.1 Chemical composition of herb
The spent grass on an average contains N 0.74%, P 0.07%, K 2.12%, Ca 0.36%, Mg 0.15%, S 0.19%,
Fe 126.73 ppm, Mn 155.82 ppm, Zn 35.51 ppm and Cu 56.64 ppm (Joy, 2003).
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6.2 Chemical composition of essential oil
East Indian lemongrass oil contains 75-85% of aldehydes consisting largely of citral. Other
constituents in the oil are linalool (1.34%), geraniol (5.00%), citronellol, nerol (2.20%), 1,8 cineole,
citronellal (0.37%), linalyl acetate, geranyl acetate (1.95%), α-pinene (0.24%), limonene (2.42%),
caryophyllene, β- pinene, β- thujene, myrcene (0.46%), β- ocimene (0.06%), terpenolene (0.05%),
methyl heptanone (1.50%) and α-terpineol (0.24%) (Weiss, 1997; Ranade, 2004).
The essential oil of C. citratus contains approximately α-pinene (0.13%), β-pinene, delta-3-catrene
(0.16%), myrcene (12.75%), dipentene (0.23%), β-phellandrene (0.07%), β-cymene (0.2%), methyl
heptanene (2.62%), citronellal (0.73%), β-elemene (1.33%), β-caryophyllene (0.18%), citronellyl
acetate (0.96%), geranyl acetate (3.00%), citral b (0.18%), citral a (41.82%), geraniol (1.85%),
elemol (1.2%) and β-caryophyllene oxide (0.61%) (Saleem et al, 2003a, b).
The average composition of C. pendulus oil is reported to be pinene (0.19%), camphene (0.01%), β-
pinene (0.16%), car-3-ene (0.04%), myrcene (0.04%), dipentene (0.35%), phellandrene (0.3%), p-
cymene (0.36%), methyl heptanone (1.05%), citronellal (0.49%), linalool (3.07%), β-elemene
(0.7%), β-caryophyllene (2.15%), citronellyl acetate (0.72%), geraniol acetate (3.58%), citral b
(32.27%), citral a (43.29%), geraniol (2.6%), elemol (2.29%) and β-caryophyllene oxide (1.56%)
(Shahi, 1997; Sharma et al, 2002).
The experiment conducted at CIMAP, Bangalore showed that young leaves of lemongrass oil
contained more oil but less citral in the oil than old leaves. During winter months formation of citral
appeared to be slow (Rao et al, 2005).
Experimenting with the Western Indian type of lemongrass oil at the Puerto Rico experiment
station, U.S. Department of agriculture, found that samples of lemongrass oil exposed to air and
light suffered the most physical and chemical changes. Their solubility was lowered considerably,
the citral content decreased and the specific gravity increased (Guenther, 1950).
The chemical structures of important constituents of lemongrass essential oil are given in Fig. 2 and
a gas chromatogram of the oil in Fig. 3.
Citral has a citrus flavour. As a component of fragrance formulations, the use of citral is limited due
to its strong tendency to get polymerise, oxidise and discolour. But in spite of all these
disadvantages, citral is used in many formulations due to its strong capability to undergo a vast
number of interesting reactions (Mestri, 2006).
The geraniol, linalool and citronellol are the most important acyclic terpene alcohols used as flavour
and fragrance substances. In flavour compositions, geraniol is used in small quantities to accentuate
citrus notes. Nerol is used for bouquetting citrus flavours. Citronellol is added for bouquetting
purposes to citrus compositions. Pinene is an important starting material in the fragrance and
flavour industry.
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Fig. 2 Chemical structures of important constituents of lemongrass essential oil
C
H
H
CH2OH
OH
H
CH
2
OH
Linalool Geraniol Nerol
CH2OH CH2OH
Limonene Citronellol Farnesol
Myrcene
α
-Pinene β-Pinene
Camphene
-Phellandrene Elemol
CHO
H
CHO
H
CHO
Geranial Neral Citronellal
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Fig. 3 Gas chromatogram of lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
GC conditions:- column : 3.2 mm diameter, 3 m long stainless steel column filled with 5%
OV-17 on 80-100 mesh Chromosorb W (HP), oven temperature programmed to rise from
110oC to 230oC at 2oC min-1, injector and detector temperature: 250oC, nitrogen flow rate:
30 ml min-1, injection volume: 2 µl
6.3 Chemical composition of oleoresin.
Oleoresins are total extracts of the natural spice or herb, representing their volatile and non-volatile
components. As these are the concentrated extracts, they are used as a diluted dispersion plated on a
neutral dry carrier or as a diluted blend in a solubilizing medium such as vegetable oil, to match the
desired strength of the ground spice or herb. Oleoresin essentially contains the oil and the resin.
When spice oleoresins are used instead of raw spices, the quantity required is generally lower,
because of better release and availability of the active principles. The essential oils in these spices
give the main flavour attribute to these oleoresins (Mathulla et al, 1996). Advantages of oleoresin
include instant flavour, standardized flavour and aroma to meet the processed food specifications,
good economy and sterilization through the manufacturing process (Mariwala, 2001).
7 Uses in food processing
7.1 Uses of herb
7.1.1 Herbal teas
Dried lemongrass leaves are widely used as a lemon flavour ingredient in herbal teas, prepared
either by decoction or infusion of 2-3 leaves in 250 or 500 ml of water (Wannmacher et al, 1990)
and other formulations. Lemongrass tea is a diuretic and imparts no biochemical changes to the
body in comparison with the ordinary tea. Lemongrass iced tea is prepared by steeping several
stalks in a few quarts of boiling water. This can also be combined with green or black teas.
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7.1.2 Health food
Lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cooking. When Thai food was embraced in the US,
lemongrass became a household name. A little experimentation with this delightfully fragrant herb
is all it takes to realize that it can be used in many more ways than just in Asian dishes. A simple
syrup made by steeping lemongrass in a mix of equal parts hot water and sugar can be used to
enhance fruit salads or to make home made soda by mixing it with seltzer. A blend of lemongrass,
garlic, ginger and oil will be stable in the freezer during winter. This paste can be fried until fragrant
and then cooked down with a can of coconut milk (strain to remove tough lemongrass fibres) for
delicious sauce for noodle, vegetable or seafood dishes. Lemongrass flavours meat, chicken and
seafood dishes of South Asia and South East Asia. It gives Sri Lankan, Thai, Malaysian,
Vietnamese and Indonesian dishes their distinctive lemony tang. These countries on the rim of the
Indian Ocean have seafood as staple food, and lemongrass takes the edge off the fishy odour.
In Thailand and Indonesia, freshly ground lemongrass is added to spice pastes. The
Vietnamese like to prepare their food at the dinner table, mixing meat with fresh herbs, and
lemongrass is an essential herb at the table. Vietnamese add the fresh grass to broth in which mutton
and beef are cooked. They also smoke meats with chopped grass.
The cuisines of Southeast Asia use coconut milk extensively, and lemongrass goes
well with this and other commonly used herbs and spices like ginger, lime leaves, bay leaves,
coriander, black pepper, mint and nutmeg. The herb’s popularity comes from the mildness of its
fragrance, which does not overpower the senses the way lime does. The grass also spices soups and
herbal teas. Lemon grass, along with black pepper, is also a remedy for menstrual disorders. The
herb decoction is a tonic and digestive (Anon, 2006).
Spiced carrot soup with ginger and lemongrass
Ingredients Approximate measure
1. Carrots, scrubbed and chopped 2 small sized
2. Leek, coarsely chopped 2-3 small sized
3. Onion, diced 2- 3 small sized
4. Celery, diced 1 or 2
5. Ginger, minced half inch piece
6. Lemongrass 2- 3 stalks
7. Honey 1 tbsp
8. Curry 1 tbsp
9. Cloves, garlic, minced 2 of each
10. Oil 2 tbsp
11. Water 1 cup
12. Lemon juice half lemon
13. Salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Sauté leeks, carrots and celery in oil till translucent. Add garlic, curry and ginger. Sauté for several
minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Add honey, lemongrass, outer leaves removed and inner
core minced, salt and pepper. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Puree until smooth. Add lemon
juice and adjust seasoning. It can be served hot or cold Garnish with thinned yogurt or crème
fraiche and parsley or cilantro.
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Lemongrass coconut rice
Ingredients Approximate measure
1. Long grain rice 1 cup
2. Lemongrass 2-3 Stalk
3. Coconut milk three by fourth
4. Bay leaves 2
5. Turmeric half tsp
6. Salt to taste
Method:
Wash rice under cold water. Bruise lemongrass by banging it with a heavy knife handle or skillet.
Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Slowly bring down to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the
heat and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Let sit for 5 minutes with the
cover on and then fluff with a fork. Remove bay leaves and serve.
Vegetarian Pad Thai
Ingredients Approximate measure
1. Rice noodles 8 oz
2. Fresh bean sprouts half cup
3. Peanuts (chopped) half dry roasted
4. Lemongrass two stalks
5. Cilantro seven sprigs
6. Cloves garlic four
7. Jalapeno one stemmed and seeded
8. Carrot (diced small) one medium size
9. Egg two
10. Peanut oil one by fourth cup
11. Green onions (thinly sliced) four
12. Sugar two tbsp.
13. Lemon juice three tbsp
14. Catsup two tbsp.
15. Thai fish sauce (nam pla) two tbsp
16. Lime one
Method
The creamy coconut and lemongrass base is loaded with chunks of white meat chicken.
Other Thai lemongrass preparations
Tom Yum Koong – Thai traditional jumbo shrimp soups with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushrooms,
chilies paste and lime juice. Garnished with cilantro.
Tom Ka Kai – Sliced chicken breast cooked in coconut milk with mushrooms, galangal,
lemongrass, lime leaf and chilies paste. Garnished with cilantro.
Tom Yum Poh Tak – Seafood combination in spicy soup with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushrooms,
chilies paste and lime juice. Garnished with cilantro.
Tom Yum Kai – Sliced chicken breast in spicy soup with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushrooms, chilies
paste and lime juice. Garnished with cilantro.
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Yum – Grilled B.B.Q. beef, pork or chicken steak, sliced and tossed with lime dressing, chilies, red
onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and lemongrass. Garnished with lettuce, scallions and mint leaf or
sweet basil.
Yum seafood – Combination seafood and tossed with lime dressing, chilies, red onions, tomatoes,
cucumbers and lemongrass. Garnished with lettuce, scallions and mint leaf or sweet basil.
7.2 Uses of essential oil
Lemongrass is cultivated for its oil which is used in culinary flavouring. It is used in most major
categories of food including alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy
baked foods, gelatins and puddings, meat and meat product and fat and oils. It is used to improve
the flavour of some fish and can be used to flavour wines, sauces etc. It is used for the isolation of
citral for vitamin A and many other aroma chemicals. The oil has very good smell of natural citral
and can be used in citrus perfumes as such. It can be used for flavouring chicken and rice
preparation. It is unique flavour for Green tea. The oil has very good aroma therapeutic properties
and good medicinal properties (Ranade, 2004). Lemongrass oil was a traditional source of citral.
This oil was used as a raw material for the manufacture of ionones and methyl ionones. Lemongrass
oil has bactericidal properties. No limit is specified in the use of lemongrass oil in flavours and
fragrances. However, citral has certain restrictions as per IFRA guidelines (Ranade, 2004).
Citral, the major component of essential oil in lemongrass, is commonly used in soaps, perfumes,
detergents, cosmetics, and candles. Most soaps and aftershaves with a fresh lime fragrance use
citral. The essential oil is a popular ingredient in aromatherapy (Anon, 2006).
Lemongrass oil has no adverse effects on the blood, liver function, kidney function, protein, and
carbohydrate and lipid metabolism of rats. Studies have failed to detect mutagenic or toxicological
reactions in humans (Leung and Foster, 1996).
7.3 Uses of oleoresin
Lemongrass oleoresin is mainly used in flavouring foods, drinks and bakery preparations.
8 Functional properties
8.1 Functional properties of herb
Leaves of lemongrass can be used as a source of cellulose in the manufacture of paper and
cardboard. Reduction in root-knot nematode disease was observed in soil amended with leaves of C.
flexuosus. In the Carribbean, lemongrass is primarily regarded as a fever reducing herb (especially
where there is significant catarrh). It is applied externally as a poultice to ease pain and arthritis. In
India, a paste of leaves is smeared on patches of ringworm (Chevallier, 2001).
8.2 Functional properties of essential oil
Lemongrass oil is one of the most important essential oils widely used for the isolation of citral.
Citral is the starting material for the preparation of ionones. α-ionone is used in flavours, cosmetics
and perfumes. β-ionone is used for the synthesis of vitamin A. Citral b, the most common
constituent of oil, could be a good inhibitor of β-glucuronidase. The oil has other uses as
bactericide, as insect repellant and in medicine (Alam et al, 1994; Atal and Kapur, 1997; Rodriguez
et al, 1997; Sasidharan, 1998; El-Kamali et al, 1998; Balz, 1999; Saikia, 1999). Antimicrobial
cream, Wisprec made of Ocimum sanctum and C. citratus remains intact in its activity up to three
years from the date of manufacturing (Tiwari et al, 1997; Prashanth et al, 2002). Its mosquito
repellent activity lasts for 2-3 hrs (Oyedele et al, 2002). It exhibits significant antifeedant and
larvicidal activity against H. armigera (Rao et al, 2000). It is effective against storage pests
(Rajapakse and Emden, 1997). The whole oil has fungicidal properties to plant and human
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pathogens (Yadav and Dubey, 1994; Mehmood et al, 1997; Handique and Singh, 1990; Dubey et al,
2000; Cimanga et al, 2002) and is potentially anticarcinogenic (Zheng et al, 1993; Vinitketkumnuen
et al, 2003). The essential oils from C. citratus have been tested for their cytotoxic activity against
P388 leukemia cells (Dubey et al, 1997). It also exhibited antioxidant activities comparable with α-
tocopherol and butylated hydroxyl toluene (Baratta et al, 1998, Lean and Mohammad, 1999). It
retards mould growth in butter cakes thereby increasing storage life. Oil of C. citratus caused egg
hatch inhibition (Yadav and Bhargava, 2002). Oil of C. pendulus is used for the synthesis of
antibacterial drug trimethoxyprim. Z-asarone, a component of oil is used as antiallergic compound.
It is used for the development of designer beverages and blends of oils with the desired odour
characteristics. It strengthens stomach, stimulates appetite, promotes digestion, and regulates
nervous system and vascular expansion. It is a stimulant, antiseptic, febrifuge, carminative, diuretic,
anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and useful against rickets.
8.3 Functional properties of oleoresin
Oleoresin is preferred over conventional spices due to many advantages
1. Sterile product- Free from pathogens and microbiological contaminants.
2. Standardized product- Active ingredients, colour, flavour and physical properties are
standardized and hence facilitate consistency in end-use which is not always possible in raw
spices.
4. Versatality and ease of use- The concentrated extract can be diluted to varying strengths to
meet the required end-use flavour, colour, taste, etc. The extract can be delivered in multiple
forms:
a) as dry dispersion on appropriate carrier
b) as liquid dispersion in appropriate media such as oil or water.
5. Uniform dispersion of extract provides
a) instant flavour release
b) full release of flavour resulting in lower cost due to higher relative replacement than the
ground spice.
6. Concentrated forms reduce storage space and bulk handling and transport requirements.
7. Concentrated and virtually moisture free forms of oleoresin ensure longer shelf life due to
minimal oxidative degradation or loss of flavour and eliminate deterioration due to pest,
mould etc.
8. Flexibility to develop multiple spice blends if required.
9 Quality issues
9.1 Quality of essential oil
The result of routine physico-chemical analysis and chromatographic examination (Fig.1.9) of the
recovered oil are of greater value as criteria of authenticity and source (Humphrey, 1973; Rhyu,
1979). A method of fingerprinting essential oil has been described (AMC, 1980) and is widely
accepted not only as a reliable method for determining the quality, source and authenticity of the
raw material, but, particularly, whether oil purchased in the bulk are genuine or adulterated.
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From a sensory point of view, essential oils collected under laboratory conditions are of little value
in indicating the quality of the bulk distilled under commercial conditions from the material under
examination. The odour pattern and taste of small scale distilled oils are not reliable and should not
be used as a basis for quality judgment.
Laboratory stills: Various types of apparatus for the determination of essential oil proposed by
Clevenger (1935) are available (Fig.1.7). That recommended by the Council of Europe
Pharmacopoeial Commission represents current laboratory practice as it is convenient to use and
facilitates the standardization of distillation conditions to enable the achievement of consistent
results. A method for the analysis of small amounts of essential oils by distillation in a microversion
of a modified Marcusson apparatus, followed by capillary GC is described by Bicchi et al (1980).
The degree of quality control applied to essential oils depends to a large extent on their source,
whether they are unprocessed, have been concentrated or de-terpenated and on their intended use.
Their sampling analysis and quality assessment demands considerable expertise, a close attention to
test procedures and a good understanding of the relationship between physico-chemical
characteristics and sensory attributes. Quality judgments should be based on the combined data
obtained by physical, chemical and sensory analyses, particularly at the aromatic profile observed
under defined conditions (Varghese, 1986).
The sensory qualities of essential oils should be paramount in any evaluation of quality and
suitability for use. The evaporation pattern of oil exposed on a smelling strip over a period of time
gives very valuable information about its source, age and often its authenticity. For most samples,
the odour assessment should be carried out and a judgment made at the following intervals:
immediately after dipping, after 1hr, 2hr and 6hr and after standing overnight or for a period of not
less than 18 hr. The flavour of the oil should be assessed at an appropriate dilution in diluted sugar
syrup or some other appropriate medium (Heath, 1978). In each case, the material under
examination should be compared directly with a reserve sample, regularly replaced from acceptable
material and maintained under optimum storage conditions, usually refrigerated. Obviously, there
will be natural variation between different lots of oils, but these should be within acceptable limits
judged by the experience of the assessor. Many of the commercially available essential oils
originate in countries remote from those in which they are used so that control is of prime
importance in both the selection and acceptance of these materials, particularly for use in food
products.
9.1.1 Routine physical tests
Moisture content (ISO 939-1980)
Specific gravity/ Relative density
Optical rotation
Refractive index
Freezing or congealing point
Solubility in diluted alcohol of a stated strength (a table for the preparation
of diluted alcohol is given in British Standard BC 2073: 1976).
9.1.2 Chemical tests
Acid value
Ester value before acetylation (for calculation of esters and combined alcohols)
Ester value after acetylation (for calculation of free alcohols)
Ester value after formulation (for calculation of free tertiary alcohols)
Carbonyl value
Phenol content
There are specific tests which should only be used in commercial transactions after full agreement
by both parties. In any event, the method employed must be clearly indicated in the test report.
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9.1.3 Test methods defined in food chemicals codex III
Determination of: - Acetals
Acid value
Total alcohols
Aldehydes
Aldehydes and ketones
-Hydroxylamine method,
-Hydroxylamine- tert- butyl alcohol method.
-Neutral sulfite method
Chlorinated compound
Esters
Linalool content
Phenols, free phenols,
Residue on evaporation
Solubility in alcohol
Volatile oil content.
9.1.4 Industrial methods
Chromatographic techniques -TLC, Paper chromatography, GLC (Humphry, 1973), Column
chromatography, HPLC (Lego, 1984).
Spectrophotometric techniques- Visible range, UV range, IR range
Spectroscopic methods- NMR, mass spectroscopy (MS), usually coupled with GLC (Thomas et al
1984).
Kumar and Madan (1979) have described a rapid method for the detection of adulteration in
essential oils using an iodide monobromide / mercuric acetate to establish iodine values which can
be directly compared with those for genuine oils.
The conventional method used for the determination of citral, the major constituent of lemongrass
oil is sodium bisulphite method (Guenther, 1948).
9.1.5 Determination of citral in lemongrass oil (Sodium metabisulphite method)
Materials required
1. Cassia flasks: 100 ml, accuracy: 0.1 ml
2. Water bath
3. Sodium metabisulphite: Prepare saturated solution (approximately 50%) and filter before
use. This is to be prepared just prior to use.
Procedure
Add approximately 50 ml freshly prepared saturated solution of sodium metabisulphite
into the cassia flask, using a graduated cylinder. Pipette exactly 5 ml of the lemongrass oil into
the flask. Shake thoroughly till the contents become a semi solid mass. Immerse the flask in a
boiling water bath and shake occasionally until the semi solid compound has gone completely
into solution. Add approximately 20 ml of sodium metabisulphite solution, mix well and leave
the flask in the bath with intermittent shaking. After 15 minutes, add an additional 20 ml sodium
metabisulphite, shake well and keep on the bath undisturbed to allow the oil layer to get
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separated. After a lapse of about 15 minutes, carefully add few ml of sodium metabisulphite
solution to allow the separated oil layer to rise completely into the graduated portion of the stem
of the cassia flask.
Any droplets of oil adhering to the sides are made to rise into the neck by gently tapping
the flask, and by rotating it rapidly between the palms of the hands. After cooling the flask to
room temperature, measure the volume of unreacted oil (V ml).
Calculation
Citral content of the lemongrass oil sample = 100 – (20 x V) % (volume by volume)
Notes
1. After cooling to room temperature, a small amount of precipitate will often be formed at the
junction of the oil and the aqueous layers, rendering it difficult to note reading. The
difficulty can be overcome by carefully adding a few drops of water with a medicine dropper
in such a way that the water runs down along the inside of the neck of the flask and remains
temporarily on top of the bisulphite solution.
2. If the oil contains heavy metals, it should be removed by shaking the oil thoroughly with
about 1% of powdered tartaric acid and filtering off the residue prior to the determination of
citral.
3. The stock of sodium metabisulphite should be fresh. Once opened, use the lot completely or
refrigerate the leftover chemical.
4. Citral content obtained by this method will be often 2-5% greater than that obtained in gas
chromatographic analysis.
9.1.6 Determination of assay of sodium metabisulphite
Take 0.2 g of sodium metabisulphite in a conical flask of500 ml capacity with a ground in
joint stopper (preferably iodine value flask). Add 50 ml of 0.1N iodine solution in KI (for
iodine solution, ratio of I2 to KI should be 1:2 w/w). Keep it for 5 minutes in darkness. Add 5
ml of Con. HCl. Titrate with 0.1 N sodium thiosulphate solution using starch as indicator.
Run a blank with 50 ml iodine in KI solution and other reagents as in the above and titrate it
against the same 0.1N sodium thiosulphate and find out the iodine solution which has reacted
with the metabisulphite and calculate the percentage purity as follows
Purity of metabisulphite (%) = ( Blank-Titre value) x 0.004753 x 100
Weight of sample
Indian Standard Specification for oil of Lemongrass (East Indian oil of lemongrass)
The revised Indian Standard was adopted by The Indian Standards Institution on 20 July 1961, after
the draft finalized by the Essential oils and Allied products Sectional Committee had been approved
by the Chemical Division Council.
The method for determination of citral content presently being used is the one recommended in the
original version of this standard and given under 13.13.1 of IS: 326-1952 Methods of Test for
Essential oils, employing a freshly prepared, saturated aqueous solution of sodium bisulphite,
approximately 35% (w/v) strength. The committee responsible for the preparation of this standard
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has agreed to change the strength of the sodium bisulphite solution to the internationally used 30%
(w/v) strength.
Terminology
For the purpose of this standard, the definitions of the terms given under 2 of IS: 326-1952 Methods
of test for Essential oils shall apply.
Sampling
Representative samples of the material, each sample containing not less than 50 ml, shall be drawn
as prescribed under 3 of IS: 326-1952 Methods of Test for Essential Oils.
Requirements
Description- Oil of lemongrass shall be obtained by water or steam distillation of the freshly cut and
partially dried grass botanically known as Cymbopogon flexuosus Stapf. Family: Graminae.
Oil of lemongrass shall be a clean liquid, free from sediment, suspended matter, separated water and
added adulterants.
The oil shall be examined for its colour, clarity, separated water by notes and sediment, as
prescribed under 4.1 of IS 326-1952 Methods of Test for Essential Oils.
Solubility- Unless otherwise agreed to between the purchaser and the supplier, oil of lemongrass
shall be soluble in 2 to 3 volumes of ethyl alcohol (70% by volume), occasionally with slight
turbidity, when tested as prescribed under 8 of IS: 326-1952 Methods of Test for Essential Oils.
9.2 Quality of oleoresin
Oleoresin is extracted by a process of solvent extraction, followed by removal of the solvent to
extremely low levels typically less than 25-30 ppm. The quality of the oleoresin is generally
evaluated on the basis of presence of active ingredients in desired level.
(a) The “bite” giving resin portion containing combinations of alkaloids, gums, pigments etc.
(b) The “aroma” giving volatile or essential oil component.
The following parameters of the flavour/aroma profile of the oleoresin can be compared with the
natural spice application.
i) the case of use in terms of pourability, dispersibility, blending etc
ii) the consistency of flavour, colour, viscosity over repeated batches.
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Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
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Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
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Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station (AMPRS), Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O., Ernakulam, Kerala, India,PIN-683 549
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Correct citation:
P.P. Joy, Samuel Mathew, Baby P. Skaria, Gracy Mathew, Ancy Joseph and P.P.
Sreevidya. 2006. Lemongrass. Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station
Odakkali, Asamannoor, Kerala, India, pp.32.
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The prominent cultivation of lemongrass (Cymbopogon spp.) relies on the pharmacological incentives of its essential oil. Lemongrass essential oil (LEO) carries a significant amount of numerous bioactive compounds, such as citral (mixture of geranial and neral), isoneral, isogeranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, citronellal, citronellol, germacrene-D, and elemol, in addition to other bioactive compounds. These components confer various pharmacological actions to LEO, including antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anticancer, and antioxidant properties. These LEO attributes are commercially exploited in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food preservations industries. Furthermore, the application of LEO in the treatment of cancer opens a new vista in the field of therapeutics. Although different LEO components have shown promising anticancer activities in vitro, their effects have not yet been assessed in the human system. Hence, further studies on the anticancer mechanisms conferred by LEO components are required. The present review intends to provide a timely discussion on the relevance of LEO in combating cancer and sustaining human healthcare, as well as in food industry applications.
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The essential oils isolated from leaves of Cymbopogon citrates and Ocimum gratissimum have been tested for their cytotoxic activity against P 388 leukemia cells. The IC 50 of the Cymbopogon oil was found to be 5.7 μg/ml while that of Ocimum oil was 10.8 μg/ml. The mixture of the oils (1:1 v/v) showed an IC 50 value of 10.2 μg/ml and there was no synergism in the cytotoxic activity. The oils were standardized by their physico- chemical properties.
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