Cymbopogon martinii is a species of grass in the lemon grass genus native to India and Indochina but widely cultivated in many places for its aromatic oil. It is best known by the common name palmarosa. Other common names include Indian geranium, gingergrass and rosha or rosha grass.
Palmarosa is a perennial aromatic grass with stiff, upright, yellow or yellow-green stems supported by a small but penetrating root system. When growing wild, the long and narrow-lanceolate leaves of this plant may attain 2.5 to 3.0 meters in height, forming rounded clumps measuring up to a meter across.
Palmarosa belongs to a family of tropical grasses rich in aromatic, volatile oils, formerly known mostly under the generic name of Andropogon, but now included in the genus Cymbopogon. Its close relations are lemongrass and citronella. Palmrosa grass occurs in two varieties, Motia or Palmarosa, and Sofia or Rusa: according to Tropical Planting and Gardening by H F Macmillan (1935), the oil of the former commanded the highest price in London at that time, about 5 – 6 shillings per pound. Originally from Central and North India, and now cultivated in Africa and Madagascar as well, the grass is slender, bearing panicles of a blue-white colour which mature to a dark red.
Palmarosa is a wild growing, herbaceous green and straw-colored grass, with long slender stems, terminal flowering tops and fragrant grassy leaves. It is harvested before the flowers appear and the highest yield is obtained when the grass is fully dried – about one week after it has been cut.
The elegant, long stems of this aromatic grass convey the principle of flow or movement. Its zylem tissue transports water and nutrients from the roots to the plants aerial parts; while its phloem tissue transports nutrients manufactures in the leaves to other parts of the plant. All the while the stem tissues are also used for water and food storage (this function is yin in nature).
What is Palmarosa Essential Oil?
Palmarosa essential oil is obtained from a sweet-scented grass found growing wild throughout India, especially to the northeast of Bombay and toward the Himalaya Mountains, Nepal and Pakistan. Palmarosa grass is native to Southeast Asia and has been used in medicine and also as an effective insect repellent throughout this region for thousands of years.
The essential oil content of the bright-green leaves varies along their length, with the very highest concentration of essential oil being found in the tops of the leaves which release a fresh, grassy rose-like aroma when crushed between the fingers. In India, the grass begins to bud during the latter part of August and flowers appear during October. Wild specimens may survive for 10 or 15 years, whereas plants cultivated for the extraction of essential oil remain productive around 6 to 10 years.
Palmarosa is now cultivated for the production of essential oil in Africa, Brazil, Comores, Indonesia, Java, Madagascar and the Seychelle islands, although India currently remains the largest single producer.
Indian palmarosa essential oil is mostly derived from wild plants growing in the forest regions which are harvested by hand in the traditional way. On the managed plantations harvesting may be conducted by hand or with a modern mechanical system that can cut, chop and load the plant ready for transportation directly to the stills.
The grass is cut around 6 to 9 centimetres from the ground and sometimes allowed to dry in the shade for up to 6 days to reduce its bulk for transportation. Palmarosa essential oil is extracted by hydro or steam distillation which produces a pale straw or olive coloured oil with a distinctive sweet, rosy-floral odour with subtle fruity, spicy and woody nuances. A good quality palmarosa essential oil is almost a perfume in itself, but the fragrance may be quite variable from origin to origin.
Chemical Constituents of Palmarosa Essential Oil
Extraction of this essential oil is done by steam distillation of dried grass which is harvested before flowering. The chief constituents of this oil are geraniol, geranyl acetate, dipentene, linalool, limonene and myrcene. This oil smells like rose oil, which is how it got the name Palmarosa. This is also why it is sometimes used in place of rose oil and is often adulterated with rose oil, since it is cheaper.
Benefits of Palmarosa Essential Oil
The health benefits of Palmarosa Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, cytophylactic, digestive, febrifuge and hydrating substance.
Many people are very familiar with the word “Septic”, but they do not seem to understand its gravity, as most of us have not experienced it. It is a very painful situation caused due to an infection in wounds. Wounds are highly prone to infections, since they are open and unprotected.
Dealing with viruses is not an easy task, and it is very different than killing bacteria. Viruses develop a protective coating on them, called a cyst, which protects them from the extreme conditions of their surroundings, and is so tough that it can withstand almost anything. Viruses remain dormant within their cyst until it finds a host, which is when the cyst opens up and the virus comes out of its dormancy and starts multiplying. It is at this stage that the Essential Oil of Palmarosa curbs and inhibits the duplication of the virus and successfully eliminates it. Septic also occurs in vulnerable internal organs such as the urinary tracts, urinary bladder, urethra, colon, and kidneys. It does not only trigger sudden, acute and nearly unbearable pain, but also results in cramps and convulsions. Therefore, it is always advisable to take care of wounds and any type of infection, specifically in the genito-urinary organs. This can be accomplished with the help of this oil. When applied externally on wounds, it protects them from infections and also kills the bacteria that have already grown on them. When taken internally, Palmarosa essential oil inhibits the bacterial growth in the genito-urinary tracts and provides effective protection against septic.
The essential oil of Palmarosa is bactericidal in nature and inhibits bacterial growth by killing them. It is also good at curing internal bacterial infections like colitis and those of the colon, stomach, urinary bladder, prostate, urethra, urinary tracts, and kidneys. It also prevents external bacterial infections on the skin, armpits, head, eyebrows, eyelids, and ears. A 2009 study on ‘Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils from Palmarosa, Evening Primrose, Lavender and Tuberose’, proved that among these four tested essential oils, the essential oil extracted from Palmarosa reflected the highest activity against both gram negative bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and gram positive bacteria like Escherichia coli. Staphylococcus aureus causes numerous infections like urinary tract infections, skin lesions, pneumonia and meningitis. Escherichia coli are generally present in human intestines and cause food poisoning.
Palmarosa oil is cytophylactic in nature, which means that it promotes the growth of cells and the recycling of cellular matter. Thus, it helps repair the damages done to the body by aging, like natural wear and tear, as well as from wounds and various other factors. It also aids in the overall growth of the body. Since it also promotes growth of the defensive cells of the body, it is considered a good way to strengthen the immune system.
Aiding digestion is yet another beneficial property of this oil. The secretion of digestive juices into the stomach is stimulated by this oil, thereby promoting digestion. It also aids in the absorption of the nutrients from food, making your digestive process more efficient.
The essential oil of Palmarosa is capable of reducing fever by virtue of it antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Therefore, whether the fever is due to either viral or bacterial infection, this oil can help you cool it down and soothe your system.
This is one of the soothing properties of Palmarosa essential oil. It helps your body retain the moisture in the tissues and maintains the moisture balance throughout your body. Therefore, this can relieve inflammation and certain other symptoms of dehydration, and is particularly good for the skin. It keeps the skin soft, moist, and looking young.
Palmarosa essential oil has a gentle, misty and lemony-rose fragrance that is comforting and calming to the mind and body. Palmarosa essential oil also aids in treating nervousness, anger, anxiety, fear, possessiveness, jealousy, insomnia and resentment.
Uses of Palmarosa Essential Oil
A number of Palmarosa essential oil uses are suggested here to guide you in any practical remedy applications.
- You can add 2 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in warm bathing water or blend it with jojoba oil and use it as massage oil for inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
- Using it as a liniment after adding 2 to 3 drops of Palmarosa essential oil to your skin care cream or lotion,aids in mending your wounds as well as protect them from being septic.
- You can also use 2 to 3 drops of this oil in your bath for alleviating pain, spasms, convulsions and other skin infections.
- Gently massaging your skin with 2 drops of Palmarosa essential oil and coconut oil will help in regulating the secretion of sebum, hydrating the skin, keeping it soft and supple and fighting against wrinkles and other symptoms of aging.
- 2 drops of Palmarosa essential oil can drive in the magical remedy for your skin. You can use it as massage oil by blending it with jojoba oil or add it to your bath tub or to your skin care cream and lotions for visible results.
- Adding 2 to 3 drops to your diffuser, air freshener, burner, vaporizer, linen or to your pillows grant a feeling of contentment, sense of security, adaptability to the existing situation, rekindles theaura, clarifies thoughts and augments the trust in the sacred stream of life.
- A mixture of 5 ml (1 tsp) soya oil and 5 drops palmarosa massaged into the shoulders, temple, sinus area, and behind the ears, can induce an almost instant feeling of well-being.
- Palmarosa is a wonderful remedy for skin conditions like acne because of its natural antiseptic constituents. Mix together 5 ml (1 tsp) almond or sunflower oil, a few drops of wheat germ oil and 3 drops of palmarosa, and massage in twice a day. This can also work wonders for old acne scars, for wrinkles (especially those occurring after long exposure to sun) and broken veins. Apply palmarosa essential oil neat to boils, using a cottonwool bud. Do this morning and night.
- To ease the discomfort of colds and flu, use 2-3 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in a diffuser.
- For fatigue, nervousness, physical exhaustion, stress and stress-related conditions, use 2-3 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in a diffuser. Can also use 8-10 drops in a bath or 2-3 drops in 1 ounce of carrier oil and massage into body.
- To cool a fever, use 2-3 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in a cold compress. Can also use 8-10 drops in bath.
- For intestinal infections, use 3-5 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in a steam inhalation.
- To stimulate sebum production in dry or mature skin, use 2-3 drops of Palmarosa essential oil in a carrier oil, and dab gently on skin. Can also be used neat.
- Dry Skin Treatment (for all skin types): 8 drops palmarosa essential oil, 4 dropscarrot seed essential oil, 4 drops roman chamomile essential oil and 1 drop angelica essential oil in 15ml of avocado oil.
Precautions for Palmarosa Essential Oil
This oil is considered completely safe, since it is a non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-toxic substance. Palmarosa essential oil does not seem to produce any side effects, but like many essential oils, it is not recommended for use with pregnant women or children. Some essential oils may cause irritation or allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin so it is wise to do a patch test before using regularly.
Blending for Palmarosa Essential Oil
The essential oils of Amyris, bay, bergamot, cedarwood, chamomile, clary sage, clove, coriander, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, mandarin, oakmoss, orange, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, rosemary, sandalwood and ylang ylang blend well with Palmarosa.