Don’t let its appearance fool you. The stalky lemongrass, also called citronella, is a fragrant plant native to Sri Lanka and South India. It may not look like much, but it packs a lot of punch in terms of benefits.
Not only is it a common ingredient in Thai and other Asian cuisine, it is also an effective bug repellent, a flavoring agent, a source of fragrance for cosmetics and soaps, a popular aromatherapy ingredient, and a wonder herb when it comes to its potential as a source of health benefits.
In this article, we’ll highlight several health benefits that can be gained from including lemongrass in your diet.
Lemongrass and Its Uses in Folk Medicine
Did you know that lemongrass has since been widely used in folk medicine?
In Brazil, they use the leaves to make a tea to be used as an analgesic, antipyretic, diuretic, and even a sedative. In Cuba, they use the hot water extract to address catarrh and rheumatism. In India, lemongrass essential oil is taken orally for gastric troubles. Lemongrass tea is also used as a sedative that targets the central nervous system.
In the United States, the Laotian Hmong (Minnesota) use the hot water extract from lemon grass for healing wounds and even bone fractures.
What’s the Tea with Lemongrass?
Its reputation as a health supplement might be due to its ability to prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast. It also contains compounds that fight inflammation, such as chlorogenic acid and isoorientin. This versatile plant may also aid in relieving pain and swelling, regulating sugar levels, and controlling your body’s cholesterol levels. Consuming lemongrass may even help treat conditions such as:
Having been a long-popular ingredient in folk medicine, lemongrass extract has been studied and recent findings have proven its efficacy. Investigations have been made concerning different lemongrass extracts, the results of which show the plant’s therapeutic potentials. It may contain anti-cancer, antioxidant, as well as anti-fungal properties.
A paper by Gagan Shah et.al focuses on the scientific basis for the therapeutic use of lemongrass. The research highlights the compounds found in the plant, which contribute to its pharmacological activities. Aside from the therapeutic potentials previously mentioned, lemongrass possesses anti-amoebic, antibacterial, and antidiarrheal properties. Its antimalarial, hypoglycemic, antimycobacterial, and other effects have also been studied.
Lemongrass Health Benefits
To easily reap the health benefits of lemongrass without resorting to extracts, you can enjoy a cup of lemongrass tea instead.
1. May Relieve Anxiety
Lemongrass may prove to be the next big thing when it comes to relieving stress and anxiety. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, inhaling lemongrass oil may help in relieving some types of anxiety. Additionally, based on animal studies, lemongrass, when injected, can have sedative effects. Do note, however, that the same effect has not been observed in humans.
2. May Relieve Inflammation
According to S. K. Olorunnisola et.al., tissue inflammation is one of the most prevalent health issues worldwide. This inflammation is said to be brought about by having certain lifestyles. Tissue inflammation has also been associated with diseases like cancer or diabetes.
But what brings about this inflammation? When it comes to animals, stress and chemical inducers are just two of the many culprits.
The solvent extracts and polyphenol-rich extractants, the chief components found in lemongrass that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, have been investigated and reported by several sources. This anti-inflammatory activity was evident in lab studies using rats, where hot water extract from dried lemongrass leaves was administered to them.
Additionally, the presence of terpenes in lemongrass tea has been proven to exhibit analgesic activity. Animal studies conducted have further supported evidence of the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties.
3. May Relieve Pain
Menstrual pain, to be exact. Drinking lemongrass tea may help alleviate menstrual pain. Do note, however, that pregnant or breastfeeding women should refrain from consuming the beverage as certain chemical compounds found in lemongrass may not be suitable for them.
4. May Have Antioxidant Properties
We can’t all be free from free radicals, but we can do something to combat their effects. You can turn to lemongrass for that. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry posits that lemongrass does have antioxidant properties. The antioxidant components, isoorientin, swertiajaponin, and chlorogenic acid, scavenge for free radicals in your body.
5. May Have Antibacterial Properties
One study reveals the antimicrobial components found in the essential oil extracted from lemongrass.
6. May Relieve Bloating
Feeling bloated lately? It’s probably just water retention. Lemongrass exhibits diuretic properties—you’ll pee more than usual is all. Drinking lemongrass tea can help increase your urine output. Now there’s no reason not to reach for a hot cup of tea.
7. May Help Lower or Regulate Cholesterol
Cardiovascular disease claims hundreds of thousands of lives annually in the United States alone. One in every four deaths is due to heart disease. Risk factors are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol levels, not to mention medical conditions that can aggravate the condition, such as diabetes and obesity.
Consuming lemongrass may help regulate your cholesterol levels. The potassium found in lemongrass encourages urine production, which in turn stimulates blood circulation, as well as lowers your blood pressure. According to a paper by Gagan Shah et.al, cholesterol concentration in animals appears to have lowered when they were given lemongrass extract. Note, however, that the change in cholesterol levels was found to be dose dependent.
How to Store and Handle Lemongrass
You can find lemongrass in almost every supermarket nowadays. Look for lemongrass that has firm green stalks. Make sure that the attached bulbs look healthy.
Want to stock up on some lemongrass goodness? You can refrigerate it for up to three weeks. Frozen, it can last up to six months. Just remember to remove the stalks before drinking or eating lemongrass-infused concoctions.
Making Lemongrass Tea
How much tea should you be consuming? Ideally, you can begin with one cup a day. There’s not enough research yet on what the recommended dosage of lemongrass and its variations should be.
Want to jumpstart your journey to wellness? Start by preparing your own cup of lemongrass tea. Here’s how:
- Prepare 1 to 3 teaspoons of fresh lemongrass in a bowl or container.
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it.
- Let it steep (minimum of 5 minutes).
- Strain your tea.
You may opt to use tea bags instead for convenience. If you wish, you can also grow your own lemongrass at home or look for purveyors of organic lemongrass to make sure that the plant you’re buying isn’t ridden with pesticides.
The humble lemongrass contains tons of health benefits and a wide range of applications, from relaxing tea to calming essential oils. While the therapeutic benefits of this versatile plant still need more research, small-scale and lab-based tests show promising results.
How much lemongrass you should consume would also depend on several factors like age and existing medical conditions. If you’re uncertain about the proper dosage and treatment of the plant, it’s a good idea to talk to your trusted healthcare professional.