Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, and biological activities of Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf extracts

Chin J Nat Med. 2015 May;13(5):321-37. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(15)30023-6.


Cymbopogon citratus is a widely distributed perennial herb belonging to the Poaceae family and has been extensively consumed for its medicinal, cosmetic, and nutritional effects for centuries. A large number of reports have been published describing the pharmacological, biological, and therapeutic actions of this herb. In this review, we summarized the literatures on related studies (up to January, 2014) that highlighted the pharmacologic and biological effects of the major phytochemicals isolated from C. citratus extracts and its essential oil. The components of the essential oils found in C. citratus have a similar pharmacokinetic properties, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. They are quickly absorbed following oral, pulmonary, and dermal administration. Based on the published reports, it can also be inferred that, after absorption from the small intestine, some phytochemicals in C. citratus can undergo oxidation, glucuronidation, sulfation, and/or O-methylation. Excretion is through urine, feces and/or expired volatiles. The biotransformation reactions of C. citratus bioactive constituents are essential for its relatively safe consumption and therapeutic applications. The data available so far warrant further studies evaluating C. citratus pharmacokinetics. Reliable pharmacokinetic data in humans would be critical for a better understanding of the the systemic handling of C. citratus.

Keywords: Cymbopogon citratus stapf; Pharmacological effects; Phytochemistry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cymbopogon*
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Hematologic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hematologic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hematologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacokinetics
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Urological Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Urological Agents / pharmacology
  • Urological Agents / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Hematologic Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Urological Agents