Palmarosa Grass Oil, Usage, Benefits and Side-effects

Palmarosa Grass is one of the most important herb in Ayurvedic medicine system. Learn what are it's health benefits and how you can use this to treat different diseases. Know about it's botanical description, medicinal properties and side-effects.

Cymbopogon Martinii is an aromatic plant belonging to grass family and Lemon grass Genus. It is found naturally in drier areas and also cultivated in many parts of India.

In India, it is distributed in Kashmir, Almora, Garhwal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Southern states. Cymbopogon Martinii is commonly known as Rohisa in India and used medicinally in Ayurveda since ancient times.

Palmarosa Grass Health benefits

There are two varieties of Cymbopogon Martinii, Motia and Sofia. Motia variety gives Palmarosa oil whereas Ginger grass Oil is obtained from Sofia variety. Palmarosa oil, is extensively used in skin care and aromatherapy.

General Information

Plant Description: Cymbopogon Martinii is a sweet scented grass, 1.5 to 3.5 m high. It occurs wild in dry localities and cultivated in many parts of India. It bears flowers in panicled spikelets, which turn reddish brown when mature.

Culm: Erect, terete, smooth shiny, upto 6 mm in diameter, internodes 5 to 16 cm long, solid.

Leaf: Blades linear-lanceolate or lanceolate tapering to long filiform acuminate point. Cordate and amplexicaul at base. Upto 50 cm long and 3.5 cm broad. Upper leaves smaller. Leaf surface glabrous, margin scabrid, midrib prominent and protruded on the lower surface.

Root: Short, stout and wood, fibrous. Many culms arise from root stumps.

Inflorescence: Primary axis bears 2 or 3 branches at each node, these end in a spatheole which bears a pair of racemes, spatheole 1.8 mm long become reddish at maturity. Racemes 1.5-2.0 cm long become subsessile or shortly pedicelled, lower raceme base and lower most pedicel swollen. Sessile spikelet about 3.5 mm long, lower glume 1 mm wide, ovate, with deep median groove, broadly winged, 2 nerved. Flower hermaphrodite or male, stamens-3, anthers 1 or 2 mm long, style 2, stigma pilose.

  • Native Country: India
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Whole plant, oil
  • Group: Monocot
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Grass
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Cultivated in many parts of India.
  • Habitat: Semi-arid to moist tropical and subtropical lowlands. Grows in well-drained soil in area with temp above than 10 degree, rain 100 cm and in full sun.

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Cymbopogon Martinii
  2. Bengali: Agam Ghaas, Agiyaa Ghaas
  3. English: Rosha Grass, Rusa grass
  4. Gujrati: Rondso, Ronsdo, Palmarosa
  5. Hindi: Rohis, Roosaa, Roosaaghaas, Mirchagandha
  6. Kannada: Dunllu, Harehullu
  7. Malayalam: Sambhaarppullu
  8. Marathi: Rohish gavat
  9. Punjabi: Agya ghass
  10. Tamil: Kaavattampillu, Munkipul, Chooraippul
  11. Telugu: Kaamakchhi – Kassuvu

Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plant.

The botanical name of Rohisha is Cymbopogon Martinii. It belongs to plant genus Cymbopogon and family Poaceae / Gramineae.

The name of genus, Cymbopogon is derived from Greek word kymbe = hallow boat like-vessel and pogon = beard. Many plants belonging to this family are used for commercial and medicinal uses. They are high in essential oil content.

Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass: Commelinida e
  • Order: Cyperales
  • Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae – Grass family
  • Genus: Cymbopogon Spreng. – Lemon grass
  • Species Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) J.F. Watson – Rosha grass
  • Synonyms: Andropogon martinii Roxb.

Varieties of Cymbopogon Martinii

There are two varieties of Cymbopogon Martinii.

1- Cymbopogon martini Stapf. Var. Motia or Palmarosa: Diploid / containing two complete sets of chromosomes

Cymbopogon martini Diploid (Var motia) is also known as Palmarosa or Motia and gives the essential oil with a floral rosy smell which is known as Palmarsa oil and East Indian Geranium oil.

The geraniol content of oil is up to 95%.

This variety grows in open forests and sunny slopes.

Constituent: geraniol, geranyl acetate, citronellol and linalool. Among others are myrcene, gammamuurolene, alpha- and beta-pinene, betaselinene, alpha-terpinene and alpha-phellandrene.

2 – Cymbopogon martini Stapf. Var. Sofia: Tetraploid / containing four homologous sets of chromosomes.

Cymbopogon martini Tetraploid (Var sofia) is Known as Gingergrass or Sofia. It gives essential oil, Gingergrass Oil, with turpentine-like aroma.

The geraniol content of oil is up to 65%.

It grows in clusters in shady, dense and moist areas in lower altitudes and valleys.

Constituent: cisp- menthadien-nz), 8-01, perrillyl alcohol, limonene, iso-piperitenol and trans-p-menthadien-z, 8-01.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action Cymbopogon martinii Whole Plant

Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) Wats. is known as Sugandhika, Dhyampaura, Rohisaka, and Shyamaka in Sanskrit and Rohis, Roosa, Roosaa Ghass and Mirchagandha in Hindi. Whole plant of Rohis is of medicinal importance.

In Ayurveda, whole plant is considered bitter and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and hot in effect (Virya). It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka).

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

It is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion / cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long term effect of herb.

Katu Viapk herbs, increases dryness in body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha.

It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka). Katu vipaak has catabolic effect on body.

Ayurvedic Action

Kapha-Vata har: Remover of the Humor of Kapha-Vata

Balya: Increases strength

Pumstvaghna: Reduces fertility in males (puMstva = masculineness, being man; ghna = destroys).

Therapeutic uses

  1. Bleeding disorders / Raktapitta
  2. Cough / Kasa
  3. Epilepsy / Apasmara
  4. Fever / Jvara
  5. Fever due to cough / Kaphajvara,
  6. Heart diseases / Hridroga
  7. Loss of appetite, ANOREXIA / Aruchi
  8. Loss of smell, taste in nose-allergic rhinitis / Pinasa
  9. Pain / shula
  10. Pain in waist / Katishula
  11. Scorpio sting / Vrischika-Visa
  12. Skin diseases / Kushtha
  13. Throat disorders / Kantha Roga
  14. Urinary disorders / Prameha

Medicinal Uses of Cymbopogon Martinii

Rohisa is used in Ayurveda since ancient times. Charak gave the decoction of whole plant in treatment of abdominal disorders, liver disorders, jaundice, fever and disorders of spleen.

Sushruta, prescribed the decoction of whole plant in inflammation of throat, chest pain, indigestion, bronchitis, cough, asthma, and fever due to excessive cough. Nowadays, mainly the oil is used in skin care and aromatherapy.

The leaves paste of plant is applied on painful joints.

The tea of flowers is given in case of fever.

The oil is given internally in very low doses for bilious complaints.

Oil can be mixed in almond oil and applied topically to minimise appearance of stretch marks and scars.

The oil is also in high demand in perfumery, soap, cosmetics and blending tobacco products industries

About Palma Rosa Essential Oil

The sweet, pale greenish-yellow scented oil obtained from the plant by distillation is known as Palmarosa oil. The oil is used in formulations applied topically for alopecia, lumbago, skin diseases, dryness, wrinkles, dermatitis, and stiff joints. It is also used in Aromatherapy to alleviate stress, tension, anxiety and to uplift and calm the emotions.

The oil is used for both, dry and oily skin. When applied on dry skin, it helps to hydrate the skin and on oily skin it balances the sebum secretion and reduces oiliness of skin.

On topical application to skin, it tones, revitalises and stimulates cellular regeneration of skin and thus reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

Few drops of oil can be added to boiling water to make facial steam. This steam opens the pore and tightens the skin

About the Oil

  1. Synonyms: Cymbopogon martini oil, Indian geranium, Turkish geranium, Rcetia
  2. Appearance: Thin consistency, pale yellow in colour.
  3. Aroma: fresh, sweet, delicate rose odour
  4. Extraction: The oil is extracted from the dried grass before it flowers by steam distillation.

Medicinal Properties

  1. Antifungal: Used to prevent fungal growth; active against fungi.
  2. Antiseptic: Preventing the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.
  3. Antiviral: Effective against viruses.
  4. Bactericidal: Prevents the growth of bacteria.
  5. Cicatrizant: Promoting the healing of a wound or the formation of a cicatrix.
  6. Cytophylactic: protects cells
  7. Digestive: Promotes the digestion of food.
  8. Febrifuge: Reduce fever.
  9. Hydrating: Combine chemically with water molecules.
  10. Nervine: Used to calm the nerves.
  11. Skin toner: Cleanse the skin and shrink the appearance of pores.
  12. Soothing and nourishing

Health Benefits of Palmarosa essential oil for Skin

  1. It moisturizes the skin.
  2. It stimulates cell rejuvenation.
  3. It encourages the correct production of sebum.
  4. It has antiseptic, antifungal, bactericide properties and helps in acne, cuts and wounds similar conditions.
  5. It reduces blemishes, scars and stretch marks.
  6. It fades acne scars.
  7. It reduces appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  8. It sooths irritated skin.
  9. It helps in dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.
  10. It is a skin tonic.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Cymbopogon Martinii

  1. Palmarosa essential oil is non-toxic and completely safe for topical use.
  2. Dilute oil with some base oil before application.
  3. Do a patch test before applying on face.
  4. Avoid using on children below 12 years.
  5. Cymbopogon Martinii has fertility reducing and abortifacient activities on oral use.
  6. Do not take internally during pregnancy.

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