Herb of the Month: Lemongrass

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and Citronella oil in glass bottle and glass dropper on wood table background.

Native to Sri Lanka, Asia, and southern India, this tropical plant is found in many parts of the world including South America, North America, Australia, and Africa. Lemongrass is also known as citronella, and it has a fresh smell with a hint of citrus. It’s popular in the summer as a bug repellent, and is also found in soaps, disinfectants, candles, skin lotions, loose tea, tea bags, as an essential oil, in capsules, and in tinctures.

Its taste is as pungent as is its smell, a flavor you may recognize from enjoying Thai cooking. It contains quercetin, known for its anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging benefits, and a plant compound called Citral, which has anti-inflammatory benefits.

Today, more than ever before, many people have embraced the stress-releasing benefits of lemongrass to help them deal with the last few years of “off the charts” stress. And lemongrass delivers: The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center suggests the herb’s aroma can immediately reduce anxiety and stress (1).

The herb is also recommended for digestive issues, and is noted to help ease nausea, constipation, and bloat. In a study published by The National Institutes of Health, lemongrass was shown to be effective against gastric ulcers (1).

Although more studies need to be done, research suggests that lemongrass is an anti-fungal and an anti-inflammatory. It’s best and safest application would be when added to a carrier oil, because its potent nature can sometimes be aggravating to the skin. Applying the diluted lemongrass oil to a small skin patch area and checking for any reaction is the best protocol. Keep in mind a small amount goes a long way.

As a beverage, lemongrass is relaxing, and swishing it around the mouth can support oral health. In cooking, it is often chopped or crushed to break the hard stalks, and added to a variety foods for a healthy flavor boost.

Lemongrass is generally considered safe, but avoidance for children and pregnant or breast-feeding women is advised.

 

References

  1. Hindustan Times, “Here are 7 science backed reasons why Lemon grass tea must be a part of your diet.” Feb 3, 2022