Lemongrass is a versatile and interesting perennial grass like plant. It can be used as a condiment, as an ornamental plant, a tea or essential oil. The benefits of lemongrass are abundant and as its name suggests it has a citrus taste and fragrance, which is also sweet. It is cultivated and used extensively in Asian cuisine and it is indigenous to India and Sri Lanka, as well as other parts of the Asian continent including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
As well as being a plant for consumption to flavor and enhance the taste of food, lemongrass has traditionally been used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Its properties have been investigated extensively and studies suggest that including lemongrass in a balanced diet can contribute to overall health and well being. Here are 8 benefits of lemongrass you will want to know:
1. Lemongrass can improve your mood
Lemongrass has been found to have an antidepressant and uplifting effect on mood. Its aroma whether from essential oil or tea can help to release serotonin in the brain which elevates mood. Research on mice has shown that Cymbopogon citratus (the botanical name for lemongrass) can be calming and relieve anxiety.
2. Lemongrass can treat colds
As a decongestant, lemongrass can be used to clear a blocked nose and stuffy chest. Whether as an inhalant, as a balm to be rubbed on the chest, in a tea or cooked in food, lemongrass can break up phlegm and mucus to make breathing easier. It also contains a high level of Vitamin C, which can help to build immunity.
3. Lemongrass is a super cleanser!
Used topically or internally, lemongrass is a very effective cleanser. It is commonly found in many skin and body products, as its Vitamin A content can refresh and clean oily skin. It is also a very effective deodorant and its lemon scent is refreshing and purifying. It has diuretic properties too, so when consumed as a tea or drink it helps to cleanse and purify the liver, kidneys, bladder and pancreas.
4. A diet that includes lemongrass regulates cholesterol and blood pressure
Lemongrass contains compounds called terpenoids, which inhibit the production of melavonic acid, a contributing pathway to the production of cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol in the body prevents the development of plaques in the arteries and veins leading to blockages that may cause stroke and heart attack. Lemongrass also contains potassium, which can increase the efficiency of blood circulation and stabilize blood pressure.
5. The brain and mind will benefit from lemongrass consumption
Lemongrass acts as a relaxant. It can treat insomnia and can increase concentration and memory retention. The citronella content in lemongrass can have a calming effect. It also contains magnesium, phosphorous, and folate, all of which have a stabilizing effect on the nervous system.
6. Muscles and joints can be relieved of inflammation and pain with lemongrass
Perhaps one of the lesser known benefits of lemongrass is that it is useful to treat pain and provide relief from aching and swelling of muscles and joints. Lemongrass contains myrcene, which has analgesic and anti inflammatory properties. It can reduce the soreness and tenderness associated with such conditions as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, toothache and inflammation of the urinary tract.
7. Lemongrass is antibacterial
Lemongrass essential oil is something that should be included in any first aid kit or picnic basket because it works well as an insect repellent and antiseptic. It stops the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus, parasites and yeast and at the same time preserves the necessary beneficial bacteria.
It can be used to clean an open wound or graze and will also assist the healing of gastrointestinal or urinary tract infections when consumed. It also repels small insects like mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ants and can be used atmospherically by way of a spray or releasing the aroma of a candle or oil in a burner.
8. Lemongrass makes the digestive system healthy
Lemongrass helps indigestion and constipation as well as being able to treat urinary problems. It cleanses and soothes the bowel and urinary tract and promotes general well being in the digestive system. Dr Claude Butler says;
“Lemongrass regulates intestinal function and motility, by destroying bad bacteria and parasites, repopulating the good bacteria in the colon… (It is) effective in curing indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, intestinal bloating, flatulence, stomach spasms, vomiting and cramps.”
Here are 5 recipes with lemongrass to try now:
Chilli and Lemongrass Chicken
Photo credit: taste.com
Photo credit: kitchensanctuary.com
Lemongrass Iced Tea
Photo credit: gourmet.com
How to make Citronella Oil
Featured photo credit: Singkham via shutterstock.com