Extraction of Essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus using Organic solvents


B. Usharani

Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, VISTAS, Chennai.

*Corresponding Author E-mail: raniushab1@gmail.com



Essential oils are extracted from diverse plants and used in medicinal field for diverse conditions. The presence of unique aromatic compounds imparts aroma and medicinal values. Essential oil plays a vital role in pharmaceutical, cosmetics and also acts as rejuvenate. Though there are various plants from which essential oil are extracted, our study focuses on the extraction and comparison of the phytochemicals released from the fresh leaves of Cymbopogon   citratus using two different organic solvents; (a). hexane (b) hexane and toluene in the ratio 1:1. Extraction was performed for 16 hours in Soxhlet extractor.  The amount of oil obtained was weighed in both extractions and subjected to GC MS for phytochemical analysis. Results revealed that when the solvents hexane and toluene in the ratio 1:1 was used it gave a better yield of 3% from 5 gram of fresh leaves, while hexane yielded only 1.5%. The GC-MS analysis revealed that the compound released from both extractions are of diverse medicinal values and can be used in aromatherapy as rejuvenate. The compounds nerol (2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl.Z) and geraniol (2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl) are the common phytochemicals extracted .Nerol and geraniol are geometric isomers. Geraniol is reported as an efficient anticancer agent with additional properties of analgesic, antinflammatory and antiseptic values.  Nerol is used as a fragrance. The compound 1 acetyl 4 hydroxy pyrrolidine 2 one is extracted when hexane and toluene were used for extraction in the ratio 1:1. It is reported to be anti-rheumatic and effective in the treatment of hips and joints.  Hence it can be concluded that hexane and toluene in the ratio 1:1 can be used for extraction of oil considering its medicinal values and the increased % of extraction rather than using hexane alone.


KEYWORDS: Essential oil, Geraniol, Organic Solvents, Cymbopogon citratus, Nerol.




Essential oil is a concentrated liquid extracted from plants. Most of them contain volatile compounds and finds a vibrant role in the pharmaceutical and medical field.  Essential oil contains the essence from the plant it is derived. Most of the essential oils are used in alternative medicine. The medicinal properties are attributed by the aromatic compounds present it. Cymbopogon citratus commonly called as the lemon grass grows in tropical climatic conditions [1].


It is a perennial herb whose leaves grow up to a height of about 120 cm with a pleasant aroma. The leaves of Cymbopogon citratus are green, long and slat with traditional uses which include culinary, medicinal, cosmetics and aromatherapy. The essential oil from the leaves of Cymbopogon citratus has various applications. There are many extraction procedures: steam distillation, solvent extraction, maceration, pressurized liquid extraction, super critical liquid extraction, microwave assisted   extraction, ultra sound assisted extraction etc [2]. The Phytoconstituents in Cymbopogon citratus has been reported to constitute alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins and phenols that are responsible for various medicinal properties; antimutagenic, cytoprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity [3-4]. Aromatherapy is one of the emerging alternative medicine to combat stress in day today life. It helps in reduction of the stress and anxiety. It reduces the perception of stress and decrease levels of cortisol; the stress hormone. Aromatherapy diffusers are filled with essential oils that evaporate and diffuse in air. Diffusers spread the flavour effectively and uniformly in the atmosphere. Essential oils thus not only spreads fragrance but indeed, balances the mind, body and the spirit by relieving the stress, relaxing promoting a better health to all. [5-6]. It is proven that stress influences all the aspects of life. Complementary and alternative medicines are emerging to improve the quality of life [7]. The composition of essential oil is necessary as the compound majorly influence it.  The composition of the phytoconstituents extracted depends on the type of solvent used. Different types of compounds are extracted based on the method and type of solvent used. Hence an enhanced method to increase the production of essential oil is the need of the hour. This research is focused on comparison of the % of the extracted essential oil grown in tropical climate, India and its phytoconstituents in 2 different composition of organic solvents.



Collection of Plants:

The healthy plants devoid of any diseases were purchased from Sri Venkateswara Nursery, Injambakkam, Chennai and grown in pots till the plant reaches its maximum height. Fresh and fully matured leaves (fig 2.1) were collected as sample.


Fg. 2.1 Mature leaves of Cymbopogon citratus


Extraction of oil in soxhalet extractor:

Fully matured fresh leaves were cut, accurately weighed and crushed using mortar and pestle. Soxhlet apparatus was used to extract 5 gram of leaves of in (a) 100 ml of solvent (hexane) for 16 hours (b) 100 ml of solvent (hexane and toluene in the ratio 1:1) for 16 hours. The extraction was collected in a clean dry beaker and the solvent was allowed to evaporate to find the yield of oil.


Oil yield: The percentage of oil yield was calculated by subtracting the initial weight of the beaker from the final weight and converted into % on w/w basis.

GC-MS analysis:

The samples were analyzed in JEOL GCMATE II in SAIF IIT-Madras. The following chromatographic conditions were followed for analysis. Front inlet temperature: 220°C, column: HP 5 Ms, carrier gas: high pure helium, flow rate: 1 ml/min, oven temperature: 50–250 at 10°/min, ion chamber temperature: 250°C, GC interface temperature: 250°C, mass analyzer: quadruple double focusing mass analyzer, detector: photon multiplier tube, scan range: 50–600 amu, and electron impact ionization: 70 eV.



The % of oil yield in the hexane extract was found to be 1.5 %. The compounds isolated in hexane extract were geranial, octadienal ,neral  and 441 Dimethoxy benzhydrol


The phytoconstituents of Cymbopogon citratus in hexane extract is depicted in the Table 1. The peaks obtained in GCMS is presented in figure3.1


Table 3.1 Phytoconstituents in hexane extract




Area %







(E) 3, 7 dimethyl, 2,6 octadienal





2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl (Z)





4,41 Dimethoxy benzhydrol



Figure 3.1. GC MS analysis- phytoconstituents of Cymbopogon citratus in hexane extract


Whereas when hexane: toluene in the ratio 1:1 was used the yield increased to 3%.and the compounds isolated in hexane: toluene extract were 3 azabcyclo3,3 octane 24 diol, 7 sopropyldene 3 phenyl, photocitral a, 1 acetyl 4 hydroxy pyrolidine 2 one, 2,6 octadenal 3,7 dimethyl, 2,6 octadienal 3,7, dimethyl. Purification and characterization of the compound in  Cymbopogon flexuosus was reported [8] . In the same manner the important phytoconstituents can be purified and used for medicinal purpose.


The phytoconstituents of Cymbopogon citratus in hexane: toluene extract ratio (1:1) is depicted in Table 2.


Table 3.2 Phytoconstituents in hexane: toluene extract




Area %







1 acetyl 4 hydroxy pyrrolidin 2 one





(E) 2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl





Photocitral a





2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl (Z)





3 azabicyclo [3.3.0] octane 2,4 dione 7 iso propylidene 3 phenyl



Geraniol (Z 2,6 octadienal, 3,7 dimethyl) , is a commercially fragrance compound used in deodorants, perfumes and cosmetic creams [9]. It is also used as pharmaceutical agent for anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and analgesic,neuroprotective, hepatotoxic [10]. Neral (2, 6 octadienal, 3, 7 dimethyl (Z) possess antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti nfllammatory, anti-insecticidal and anti-inflammatory properties [11]. The compound 1 acetyl 4 hydroxy pyrrolidine 2 one is reported to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It acts as anti- rheumatic agent, treating osteoarthritis of the knee of hip joints.  It is also used as anti-inflammatory and dermatologic agent used to treat or prevent skin disorders. [12-14]. Citral is a recemic mixture of geranial (citral a, E-isomer) and neral (citral b, Z-isomer) that imparts lemon-like aroma to the essential oils of Cymbopogon sp. [15]  The compound 3 azabicyclo [3.3.0] octane 2,4 dione 7 iso propylidene 3 phenyl is reported to posess antibacterial, anti-microbial , anti-cancer and herbicidal activity. [16]. Photo citral a is reported in the GC MS analysis of Melanthera scandens leaf extract [17]. It is not reported to be used in fragrances .The medicinal or pharmaceutical use is reported yet. Hence a keen focus on the importance of this compound can be studied in upcoming researches. The compound 4,4’ Dimethoxybenzhydrol was used to study the kinetics and mechanism of oxidation of substituted benzhydrols to corresponding benzophenones in the presence of mercuric acetate by N- Bromosuccinimide [18]. The presence of citral and geranial in essential oil of Cymbopogon sp treated with different doses of gypsum was reported and concluded that the chemical constituents are not influenced by treatments [19]. The addition of sulphur increases the citral and geraniol content in essential oil [20]. The contents of essential oil  [21] can be studied for its antimicrobial properties against bacteria and fungus. The antimicrobial properties of solanum sp  [22]  and antibiofilm, anti fungal, antiviral and anti oxidant properties of Cymbopogon sp  and Celocia sp was proven to be effective [23-24] .The formulation for anti-rheumatics and anti inflammatory products from varied extracts are reported [25-28]. The pharmaceutical importance of each individual compound can be studied in future with a special focus on the formulation of anti-rheumatic tablets from essential oil.


Figure 3.2. GC MS analysis- phytoconstituents of Cymbopogon citratus in hexane: toluene extract



The value of the essential oil based on the phyto constituents. In this study extraction of essential oil using hexane: toluene in the ratio 1:1 yielded a higher % of oil rather than using hexane alone. Moreover the compound 1 acetyl 4 hydroxy pyrrolidine 2 one is reported as an anti-rheumatic factor used in ailments of hips and joints. Hence further this compound can be purified and used for medicinal purposes.



The author wishes to thank UGC, New Delhi for supporting this research.



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Received on 08.04.2020            Modified on 18.07.2020

Accepted on 22.12.2020           © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech 2021; 14(11):5709-5712.

DOI: 10.52711/0974-360X.2021.00992