Lemongrass is a perennial herb with a distinct, lemony aroma and flavor. It’s a staple of both Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Though the plant is native to India, it’s grown all over the world today. Lemongrass is a rich source of nutrients that offer many therapeutic benefits. There are over fifty different species of lemongrass! It's been used traditionally in Brazilian, Chinese, and Indian herbal remedies.
Lemongrass is a source of beneficial phytochemicals and specialized nutrients that support the body’s response to harmful organisms, boost the immune system, and promote overall wellness.
|Lemongrass Quick Facts|
|Scientific Names||You. can find more than 50 species of lemongrass including Cymbopogon citratus (ornamental lemongrass), Cymbopogon nardus (Citronella), Cymbopogon flexuosus (Cochin or Malabar grass), and others.|
|Origin||India and other Asian countries.|
|Health Benefits||Provides antioxidants, supports the immune system, deters insects and other harmful organisms.|
|Common Uses||Cooking, tea, perfume, cosmetics, medicine, and aromatherapy.|
Benefits of Lemongrass
Although the balance of nutrients and phytochemicals may vary slightly from one variety to the next, in general, lemongrass provides antioxidants like isoorientin, orientin, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid; all of which help halt the damaging action of free radicals. Caffeic acid, in particular, may neutralize free radical action up to 85 percent.
1. Supports the Body's Response to Harmful Organisms
Some of the phytochemicals found in lemongrass resist harmful organisms.Geraniol and neral belong to a class monoterpenes and are effective against a broad spectrum of harmful organisms. Another one, citral, specifically is helpful against Candida.[2, 3]
Lemongrass may also be effective against entire colonies of organisms known as biofilms. A biofilm is a thin, slimy, continuous collection of organisms that adheres to a surface with the help of proteins and sugar. Dental plaque on teeth is a common example of a biofilm.
2. Promotes Normal Immune System Response
Lemongrass encourages a normal, balanced immune system response — not one that’s overreactive and ends up doing more harm than good. In that way, lemongrass may protect healthy cells and help soothe irritated tissue.
The geranial and neral in lemongrass are both antioxidants. These phytochemicals influence the immune response. Citral also affects immune response by discouraging the body from producing too many cytokines — proteins that cause inflammation. Geraniol and citral work in tandem to discourage the proliferation of malfunctioning cells, encouraging the body to detoxify itself of them.[7, 8]
3. Stomach Protection
Your stomach features a protective lining called the mucosal layer that prevents acidic, gastric juices from damaging the interior of the stomach. It’s not uncommon, however, for alcohol or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin to upset this protective layer.
According to Brazilian folk medicine, lemongrass essential oil may help protect the mucosal layer of the stomach. It's known role in promoting a normal response to inflammation, soothing irritated tisses, and reducing overproduction of cytokines suggests that there is evidence to back up this traditional remedy.[5, 6]
4. Encourages Normal Cardiovascular Health
Lemongrass offers a multi-tiere approach for supporting cardiovascular or heart health. First, the citral in lemongrass helps to relax overstressed blood vessels. Citral extracts from leaves, stems, and roots may promote normal levels of phenylephrine, with an end result of relaxation in the blood vessels.
Second, as a source of antioxidants, lemongrass may disrupt the oxidation of fat in the arteries.
Finally, although more research is necessary to quantify the effects in humans, the results of some studies suggest that lemongrass promotes normal cholesterol levels.
5. Deters Insects
Topical or environmental application of lemongrass essential oil has long been used as a mosquito deterrent. You’re probably familiar with the outdoor citronella candles designed to keep mosquitoes at bay. The citronella in those candles is usually sourced from the Cymbopogon winterianus or Cymbopogon nardus varieties of lemongrass. In fact, the mosquito-deterring effects of lemongrass oil are comparable to many chemical repellents such as DEET.[12, 13]
6. Encourages Restful Sleep
Night owls rejoice! If you struggle falling or staying asleep, lemongrass can help. Studies have found that lemongrass may increase sleep duration, encourage dream remembrance, and promote restful sleep. Try putting lavender and lemongrass essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom.
Tips for Growing Lemongrass
Lemongrass does best in regions 8 to 11, but you can still grow it indoors if you live in a colder region. Take a stalk of lemongrass and peel off the dry outer layers and discard. Place the skinned stalks upright in a tall glass or jar. Add about 1 to 2 inches of water to the jar to cover the base of the stalks. Place in a window or another sunny area to encourage root growth. Change the water frequently — about once a day — over the next month. Delicate roots should sprout from the end of the stalks. Once they reach 2 inches, they’re ready to plant.
To plant, dig a hole either in a container or the ground. Gently fill the space around the lemongrass stalk with soil, being careful not to break the roots. Make sure to keep the soil around the plant well hydrated, but not soaked. In 3 to 4 months, when the plant is well established, you can start harvesting. Cut fresh stalks as desired for tea or recipes. Keep your lemongrass well pruned to encourage consistent harvests. To store, peel off the tough, dry sheath around the harvested stalks, cut to size, and store in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready for use.
Lemongrass is available fresh, dried, powdered, or as an essential oil. You can also find it in some liquid herbal extracts, or as a hydrosol or herbal essence. Your intentions will dictate the best form to select. Fresh lemongrass is best for cooking. Extracts are commonly found in supplements, and the essential oil has many aromatherapy applications.
Global Healing's Plant-Based Immune Boost Raw Herbal Extract™ is an advanced formula containing elderberry, Echinacea, pine bark, birch polypore mushroom, and a hydrosol of lemongrass, tulsi, and turmeric.
Lemongrass Tea Recipe
Lemongrass tea is an easy and excellent way to add lemongrass to your diet. To make a tea with fresh lemongrass stalk, roughly chop three whole stalks, pour 6 cups of almost-boiling water over the fresh lemongrass, and steep for at least 5 minutes. Add raw honey to taste if you prefer a sweet flavor. You can also use dry stalks if you smash them with a tenderizer first and steep for longer — about 10 minutes.
What experience do you have with lemongrass? Do you have a favorite use or recipe to share? If you’re looking for more healthy recipes, check out our recipe section!
- Cheel, J, et al. "Free Radical Scavengers and Antioxidants from Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus (DC.) Stapf.)." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 53.7 (2005): 2511–7. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Cde, Silva, et al. "Antifungal Activity of the Lemongrass Oil and Citral Against Candida Spp." The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases 12.1 (2008): 63–6. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Boukhatem, Mohamed Nadjib, et al. "Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon Citratus) Essential Oil as a Potent Anti-Inflammatory and Antifungal Drugs." Libyan Journal of Medicine 9. (2014): n.pag. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Adukwu, EC, SC Allen, and CA Phillips. "The Anti-Biofilm Activity of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Flexuosus) and Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi) Essential Oils Against Five Strains of Staphylococcus Aureus." Journal of Applied Microbiology. 113.5 (2012): 1217–27. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Tiwari, M, UN Dwivedi, and P Kakkar. "Suppression of Oxidative Stress and Pro-Inflammatory Mediators by Cymbopogon Citratus D. Stapf Extract in Lipopolysaccharide Stimulated Murine Alveolar Macrophages." Food and Chemical Toxicology : An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. 48.10 (2010): 2913–9. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Carnesecchi, S, et al. "Geraniol, a Component of Plant Essential Oils, Inhibits Growth and Polyamine Biosynthesis in Human Colon Cancer Cells." Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 298.1 (2001): 197–200. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Dudai, N, et al. "Citral Is a New Inducer of Caspase-3 in Tumor Cell Lines." Planta medica. 71.5 (2005): 484–8. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Fernandes, CN, et al. "Investigation of the Mechanisms Underlying the Gastroprotective Effect of Cymbopogon Citratus Essential Oil." Elsevier Journal of Young Pharmacists 4.1 (2012): n.pag. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Devi, Chitra R., S. M. Sim, and R. Ismail. "Effect of Cymbopogon Citratus and Citral on Vascular Smooth Muscle of the Isolated Thoracic Rat Aorta." Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012. (2012): n.pag. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Staprans, I, et al. "The Role of Dietary Oxidized Cholesterol and Oxidized Fatty Acids in the Development of Atherosclerosis." Molecular nutrition & food research. 49.11 (2005): 1075–82. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- "Hypocholesterolaemic effect of ethanolic extract of fresh leaves of Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass)." 2017. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Oyedele, A. O., et al. "Formulation of an effective mosquito-repellent topical product from Lemongrass oil." Phytomedicine 9.3 (2002): 259–262. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Prabhakar, Kodali, et al. "INVESTIGATION OF THE REPELLENCE ACTIVITY OF BIO-OUT, A NATURAL MOSQUITO REPELLENT." International Journal of Life Sciences, Biotechnology, and Pharma Research 2.3 (2113): n.pag. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Shah, Gagan, et al. "Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Cymbopogon Citratus, Stapf (Lemongrass)." Journal of Advances Pharmaceutical Technology and Research 2.1 (2011): n.pag. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
- Swee, Robin Chuan, et al. "Study of effects of aromatic herbal scents on sleep and dreams." 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.