Lemongrass, an herb native to many Asian countries, has long been used in Asian cultures both for its flavor and for its healing properties. Because it is high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, and more, lemongrass supports your health in a variety of ways. From acting as a pain reliever to an anti-depressant, lemongrass is a natural way to relieve many ailments.
What is lemongrass good for?
Read on to discover the many ways that lemongrass can be used to improve your health overall and target specific ailments.
1. Digestive Aid
Because it has antiseptic properties, lemongrass can kill bad bacteria or parasites that may be in the digestive tract. This allows for the good bacteria in the gut to replenish and get back to its job of maintaining the health of your digestive tract. By regulating these bacteria and parasites, lemongrass can help with indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and nausea. While not recommended for children, lemongrass tea can be enjoyed by adults to combat digestive issues and maintain digestive health.
2. Cholesterol Control
Lemongrass is able to reduce and prevent the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine, therefore preventing cholesterol buildup on the artery walls. The herb also helps with the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which again helps prevent cholesterol buildup. Studies have shown that individuals that took lemongrass daily noticeably lowered cholesterol levels and blood fats.
The potassium in lemongrass gives your body an extra little boost in regulating blood pressure. You can enjoy a cup of lemongrass tea every day, or, if cleared by your doctor, take it in supplement form instead.
3. Detoxify and Cleanse
Lemongrass has natural diuretic properties, which means that it can help your body rid itself of toxins through frequent urination. Consumed regularly, this herb can also help rid your body of uric acid and bad cholesterol, as well as help your kidneys stay healthy and regular. It can also help cleanse the liver, bladder, and pancreas, improving function of these organs and improving blood circulation throughout the body.
4. Immune Support
Lemongrass contains antibacterial and antifungal properties, both of which help rid your body of bacteria and fungi. It is also chock-full of vitamin C, which helps your body fight off intruders, preventing colds and flus in the first place. It may also ease joint or muscle pain and headaches that are related to a cold or flu.
For a great cold or flu remedy, make yourself some lemongrass tea by boiling some fresh strands of lemongrass in one cup of milk; add two or three cloves, one cinnamon stick, and/or one teaspoon of turmeric powder, if desired. Strain, then let cool, and drink.
5. Cancer-fighting Properties
There is a component in lemongrass called citral, which essentially convinces cancer cells to commit suicide. It does this without harming any healthy cells. Studies have shown that lemongrass can help actively fight cancer by slowing the growth of cancerous cells and causing the death of these cells. In fact, cancer patients in Israel are encouraged to drink lemongrass often when undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
6. Reduce Joint Pain
Lemongrass can be helpful in treating arthritis, rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and gout thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. The herb can also suppress the enzyme that is responsible for much inflammation that leads to pain, particularly in the joints. Lemongrass may also relieve pain from muscle spasms or sprains.
Lemongrass activates the release of serotonin, a chemical which is crucial in fighting depression and feelings of sadness or emptiness. The release of this chemical, along with other components of lemongrass, will help relieve anxiety and boost self-esteem. Citronella in lemongrass has an overall calming effect on the body, which helps reduce anxiety and stress, as well as contributing to better sleep. If you need a little pick-me-up, or even if you’ve been having trouble falling asleep, try incorporating a cup or two of lemongrass tea into your day.
8. Healthy Skin
Related to its antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, lemongrass can also help with many skin issues. Lemongrass may help with skin issues such as acne, eczema, and dry skin. You can combine lemongrass oil with a base oil (such as olive) and apply it to your skin as needed. Follow this recipe: combine ½ cup of fresh, sliced lemongrass with 1 cup of olive oil; heat for five minutes; remove from heat and let cool. Once the oil mixture is cool, apply to skin where needed.
As you can see, lemongrass has multiple benefits for your overall health. If you want healthy skin, a stronger immune system, and relief from pain or depression, try incorporating lemongrass into your day from now on.
How to Use Lemongrass
To use lemongrass, trim off the tops and the bases, and crush the stalks with the side of a utensil like a knife. This will release the aromatic oils. Cut the stalks into pieces 1 to 2 inches long. These pieces can then be used to infuse soups and broth, as well as braising liquids. Remove the stalks before eating, as they have a tendency to be woody.
For use in marinades, salads, stir fries, rubs, and pastes, snip the tops of the plants as well as the bottom 4 inches of the stalks. Peel of dried outer layers prior to mincing or chopping. This plant holds up well to long cooking and will gain intensity the longer that it is cooked. For a strong lemongrass flavor, add minced pieces at the start of cooking and brown this with the other aromatics. For a lighter flavor of lemongrass, add it more toward the end of cooking.
To make lemongrass tea, use only the leaves. Use them either fresh or dried, and cut the green parts of the leaves off the plant using sharpened nippers. One or two fresh leaves that have been cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces should be placed in a cup, with boiling water poured over the leaves. Let this steep for 10 to 15 minutes. The leaves may also be placed in a pot with water added after. More leaves will work well for a large pot of tea, but the amount should be adjusted to suit personal preferences.
Lemongrass is considered safe, but the topical use of the oil or the ingestion of the tea may result in an allergic reaction in some people. If any allergic reactions do present themselves, it is strongly advised to discontinue use and seek medical attention immediately.
Lemongrass oil that is not diluted or is concentrated should never be applied directly to the body as it can cause harmful reactions. It is also advisable to keep lemongrass oil away and out of the reach of children.
Consult a health professional or herbalist prior to use of lemongrass oil for therapeutic use during conditions like pregnancy, breastfeeding, when trying to conceive, and even during the course of ongoing medical treatments. Lemongrass can start a menstrual flow, so there are some concerns that it might cause a miscarriage.