Lemongrass: the superfood from our kitchen garden

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), also known as fever grass, oil grass, is commonly found in in tropical and semi-tropical areas of Asia and is cultivated in South and Central America, Africa and other tropical countries. This is a tufted perennial grass with citrus flavour. Lemon grass is commonly used in teas, soups and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish and seafood. It is widely used in the food industry as a flavouring agent.

Some of the common or local names include: Bhutrin, Bhutik, Chatra, Hari chai, Agni ghass, Majigehulu, Purahalihulla, Oilcha, Lilacha, Lilicha, Karpurappilu, Chippagaddi, Nimmagaddi, Khawi, Gandhabena, Shambharapulla, Gandhabena, Mirvacha, West Indian Lemongrass, Melissa grass, Haona, Chae kashmiri, Jazar masalah.

Traditional Ayurvedic benefits:

  • Lemongrass is also known as Bhutrin in Ayurveda, and is mentioned in Charaka Samhita. It has pungent, bitter taste and is hot in potency. It reduces Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but increases Vata when taken in excess.
  • Due to its pungent and bitter taste, it stimulates digestion.
  • Its light and drying properties makes it a good expectorant and helps to cure Kapha.
  • Its cooling nature helps to reduce high body temperature. It is also a great detoxifier that removes toxins from the body.
  • Lemongrass helps to reignite Agni (digestive fire) and reduce Ama. This is due to its Deepan (appetizer) and Pachan (digestive) properties, thus remove the accumulation of bad cholesterol and maintain normal cholesterol level. Drinking Lemongrass tea regularly helps manage cholesterol level.
  • Lemongrass helps to reduce stomach ache like gas or flatulence, caused due to an imbalance of Vata and Pitta dosha.
  • Lemongrass helps to reduce a stress-induced headache when applied topically due to its Vata balancing property.
Lemongrass leaf and fresh pandan leaves on white.

Chemical composition:

One of the main constituents of the lemongrass is citral (3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadien-1-al). Lemongrass oil has been found to contain up to 75-85% citral. Although a lot of pharmacological studies have been carried out based on the ingredients present, but a lot more can still be explored and utilized.

Medical/ health benefits:

  • The studies on the effect of lemongrass extract and essential oils have shown that lemongrass is anti-bacterial and anti-amoebic, acts against worm and filarial infestation, fungal infection, reduce diarrhoea, acts as anti-malarial, and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Lemongrass helps in the management of high cholesterol. It decreases the level of bad cholesterol. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property. This decreases the risk of cholesterol related complications
  • Lemongrass essential oil is known to deeply purify and heal, hence it helps to treat acne and wounds. It is widely used in antibiotic medicines to treat skin infections.
  • Lemongrass might be beneficial in the management of high blood pressure. It helps in increasing the nitric oxide level. This helps in relaxing the blood vessels. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property it also prevents the damage of blood vessels.
  • Lemongrass might be beneficial in the management of diabetes. It reduces the level of elevated blood glucose levels. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the risk of developing diabetes related complications.
  • Lemongrass essential oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic property. It reduces the pain and inflammation of joints, and might be beneficial in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lemongrass essential oil has fungicidal activity, and may be beneficial in the management of yeast infection in the mouth (thrush).
  • Lemongrass acts on the central nervous system and has sedative and anxiolytic (reducing anxiety) effects which might help sleeping disorders, and helpful in managing insomnia.
  • Lemongrass essential oil has a refreshing and uplifting aroma, hence widely used in aromatherapy and is also used as diffuser oils. It is an excellent mood-elevating oil that helps alleviate stress, fatigue, anxiety, and emotional distress. It also works as insect repellent and serve as a natural air freshener.

How to use:

  • Whole parts of this herb can be used as well as it’s oil can be prepared .
  • Dose of dried lemon grass powder is 2 to 5 grams. Dried lemon grass powder is used to make herbal tea (or added to other ingredients in herbal tea). This decoction or infusion or herbal tea us used as remedies for fever, cough, cold, indigestion, pains in stomach etc.
  • Oil : 1 to 2 drops can be used. A. Skin: Take 2-5 drops of Lemongrass oil or as per your requirement. Mix with a few drops of Almond or Coconut oil. Apply on the skin and massage for some time till the oil gets absorbed. B. Achy feet: Add 2 drops of Lemongrass essential oil to a tub of hot water. Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts. Soak your feet in it for about 10-15 minutes to get relief from pain in the feet. C. Hair: Take a few drops of Lemongrass oil and dilute with a few drops of Almond or Coconut oil. Apply on the scalp and hair and massage for some time. Leave it for at least one hour. Rinse it off with shampoo and water.
  • Lemongrass tea: Take 1 cup of hot water. Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoons of fresh or dried powdered Lemongrass leaves. Wait for 5-10 minutes and filter. Take this once or twice a day to manage high cholesterol level.
  • Lemongrass stalk-for cooking: Peel away the dried outer layers of the Lemongrass stalk. Cut the bottom root end and the top woody part of the stalks. Use the 5-6 inch stalk left for cooking.

Several studies have shown range of effects of lemongrass in improving health and reducing illnesses. These are very encouraging and indicate that this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects.

Resources:

  1. Balkrishnan A.Bhutrin.Ayurved Jadi Buti Rehsya. Danik Bhaskar.2017.
  2. Shah G, Shri R, Panchal V, Sharma N, Singh B, Mann AS. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass). J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011;2(1):3-8. doi:10.4103/2231-4040.79796
  3. Dudai, N., Weinstein, Y., Krup, M., Rabinski, T., and Ofir, R. Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Med 2005;71(5):484-488. 
  4. Li, H., Huang, J., Zhang, X., Chen, Y., Yang, J., and Hei, L. [Allelopathic effects of Cymbopogon citratu volatile and its chemical components]. Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao 2005;16(4):763-767.
  5. Ranade SS, Thiagarajan P.Lemon grass.Int. J. Pharm. Sci Rev Res.2015;35(2):162-167.
  6. LEMONGRASS. 1mg.com https://www.1mg.com/ayurveda/lemongrass-170

(Image source: Pixabay/Shutterstock/Google images)

About Author: Dr.Prasad Gokhale
1) B.A.M.S.
2) Certificate in Advance Panchakarma.
3) Kizuna project member (Joint venture of Indian and Japanese Government, 2013)
3) Certificate in German, Spanish.
4) Diploma in Russian.
5) J.L.P.T (N 3 level ) Japanese.
6) D.E.L.E.: A 1 Spanish.

Online ayurvedic consultant since 2010.
Registered Ayurvedic Medical Practitioner and Panchakarma expert, diet and lifestyle expert, Medical blogger, Youtuber(Voice of Ayurved), Ayurvedic educator. He has treated patients from 18 different countries.

Co-author: Dr. Leena Gaikwad, has a bachelor’s degree in Ayurvedic medicine, and master’s in Public Health. She is a public health researcher, interested in health promotion and prevention. Medical and travel blogger, lifestyle management and diet expert. Speaks English, Hindi, Marathi and Spanish.

(Above article is for information purposes only, kindly consult your doctor before trying home remedies.)

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