Lemongrass essential oil comes from the lemongrass plant, which grows in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. The oil can be bright or pale yellow with a thin consistency and a lemony scent.
Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus) grow to about 2 m (6.6 ft) and have magenta-colored base stems. These species are used for the production of citronella oil, which is used in soaps, as an insect repellent (especially mosquitoes) in insect sprays and candles, and in aromatherapy. The principal chemical constituents of citronella, geraniol and citronellol, are antiseptics, hence their use in household disinfectants and soaps. Besides oil production, citronella grass is also used for culinary purposes, as a flavoring.
East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), also called Cochin grass or Malabar grass, is native to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, while West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is native to maritime Southeast Asia. While both can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more suitable for cooking. In India, C. citratus is used both as a medical herb and in perfumes. C. citratus is consumed as a tea for anxiety in Brazilian folk medicine, but a study in humans found no effect. The tea caused a recurrence of contact dermatitis in one case.
In Hoodoo, lemongrass is the primary ingredient of van van oil, one of the most popular oils used in conjure. Lemongrass is used in this preparation and on its own in hoodoo to protect against evil, spiritually clean a house, and to bring good luck in love affairs.