Lemongrass also called ‘fever grass’, is a perennial plant with thin, linear leaves and is indigenous to many Asian countries. As the name implies, lemongrass smells like lemon, but it tastes milder and sweeter. This herb is used in various Asian cuisines to accord a tangy lemon-like flavor to a wide array of meat, poultry, and seafood preparations.
Besides its culinary usage, lemongrass has also gained popularity as a natural preservative and bug repellant. Given its zesty, refreshing aroma, it is also a commonly featured ingredient in the manufacture of a number of perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics.
This fragrant healer also finds much use in aromatherapy, particularly to combat stress and uplift mood. Every part of the plant from its leaves to its stems and bulb possesses health-promoting properties that can be incorporated in various treatments.
Proponents claim that it has beneficial medicinal properties including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antipyretic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, galactagogue, insecticidal, sedative, and anticancer properties.
The existing scientific research to support these claims will be evaluated throughout this article.
Although fresh and dried lemongrass, both are readily available in the grocery store or market, you can also get this herb in the form of essential oil and as a food supplement. It is, however, lemongrass tea that offers the most convenient way to reap the nutritional potential of this herb in a way that is easy on our digestive system.
No wonder then that this steaming brew has emerged as a widely preferred home remedy for a myriad of health issues.
You can easily fix yourself a cup by steeping 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried lemongrass in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain, add any desired sweetener, and your tea is ready. If that seems like too much work, you always have the option of buying ready-to-use tea bags to keep your regular “tea-tox” regime going.
Nutritional Value of Lemongrass
Nutritionally, lemongrass is a good source of vitamin A and C, folate, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese. It also has minute traces of B vitamins.(14)
Nutritional value of lemongrass per 100 gram:
- Water – 70.58 g
- Energy – 99 kcal
- Protein – 1.82 g
- Carbohydrate – 25.31 g
- Calcium, Ca – 65 mg
- Iron, Fe – 8.17 mg
- Magnesium, Mg – 60 mg
- Phosphorus, P – 101 mg
- Potassium, K – 723 mg
- Sodium, Na – 6 mg
- Zinc, Zn – 2.23 mg
- Copper, Cu – 0.266 mg
- Manganese, Mn – 5.224 mg
- Vitamin C – 2.6 mg
- Niacin – 1.1 mg
- Folate, food – 75 mcg
Being a treasure trove of numerous essential nutrients, lemongrass has been widely acknowledged as a therapeutic agent in alternative or complementary medicine. In fact, it is a bona fide favorite within the realm of Ayurveda to treat a wide range of ailments.
Preacautions and Risk Factors
To sum up, you can tap these health benefits of lemongrass to the best of their potential by simply drinking 1 to 2 cups of lemongrass tea daily. However, do not consume it if you are pregnant or taking any medications.
Like many herbal remedies, more research needs to be completed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of lemongrass in treating some conditions. Be sure to consult with your health care provider before starting any herbal supplements.
Health Promoting Factors of Lemongrass
Here are 10 reasons to try this herb.
1. Helps Digestion
Lemongrass promotes healthy digestion. It has a high fiber content, a known prebiotic to help repopulate the good bacteria in the colon. It also contains an antimicrobial compound called citral, which has shown promise at killing bad bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli (common causes of gastroenteritis), in laboratory studies.(1)
Although additional human studies are warranted, lemongrass may have the potential to reduce digestive health problems such as indigestion, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, and cramps.
For a healthy digestive tract, drink lemongrass tea on a regular basis.
2. Protects the Heart
Lemongrass can be beneficial for your heart and was once thought to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Although lemongrass oil alone did not lead to sustained lower cholesterol levels in human research studies, this healthy herb still offers heart benefits.(2)
The antioxidant content of lemongrass can be beneficial for lowering the risk of cardiovascular issues and other ailments.(3)
The high potassium content in lemongrass also helps lower and regulate blood pressure. This is especially true when lemongrass is used for seasoning in place of salt, which is known to negatively increase blood pressure.(4)
Simply drink a cup of lemongrass tea or use it as a seasoning when cooking to help improve your heart health and reduce your blood pressure.
3. Cleanses and Detoxifies
Regular consumption of lemongrass tea helps cleanse and detoxify the body. A healthy body relies on organs such as the kidneys and liver to remove waste products and impurities from your system.
Lemongrass tea can work as a trusted aid to these organs and supports their functioning to keep it at the optimal level.
The mild diuretic nature of lemongrass helps remove toxins and urinary waste from the body by increasing the frequency and quantity of urination.(5) Urination helps clean out waste products through the kidneys.
Drink lemongrass tea on a regular basis to help your body get rid of harmful elements.
4. Heals Cold and Flu
Lemongrass has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help your body cope with coughs, fever, and colds.(1) Plus, it is loaded with vitamin C that supports your immune system to fight the virus or infection that is the root of your condition.(6)
Moreover, you can apply lemongrass oil to get relief from aching muscles and joints, and headaches resulting from a cold or flu.(7)
You can make the following medicinal drink with lemongrass:
- Boil a few fresh strands of lemongrass, two or three cloves, a small piece of cinnamon stick, and 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in one cup of milk.
- Strain and drink this milk when it cools down.
- Drink this once a day for a few days.
5. Fights Cancer
Research conducted at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has revealed that lemongrass tea can help fight cancer in the laboratory setting.
A component called citral found in lemongrass caused apoptosis in cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.(8)
Simply put, it caused the cancer cells to commit suicide. While additional studies are needed to determine if these results hold up in human experiments, cancer patients in Israel are encouraged to take fresh lemongrass tea while undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments in order to expedite the healing process nonetheless.
Another study published in 2009 in Fundamentals of Clinical Pharmacology found that citral in lemongrass has a mitigating effect on the growth of breast cancer cells in the laboratory.(9)
Again, further studies with human participants need to be conducted to determine whether or not these beneficial results are confined to the laboratory setting only.
Furthermore, there are several antioxidant properties in lemongrass that help lower your risk of cancer by fighting free radicals.(3)
6. Reduces Joint Pain
Due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, lemongrass helps treat pain emanating from a variety of ailments, including arthritis, rheumatism, osteoarthritis, gout, and other types of joint pain.(7)
Its anti-inflammatory properties help suppress the activity of cyclooxygenase-2, an enzyme involved in inflammation that causes pain, especially in joints.(9)
Plus, lemongrass helps to alleviate muscle spasms or sprains by relaxing the muscles, in turn reducing the pain-related symptoms.
- You can mix lemongrass oil with coconut oil in a 1:2 ratio and rub it over the affected area. Leave it on for a few hours before rinsing it off. Do this daily for a few weeks.
- You can also drink lemongrass tea twice daily for best results.
7. Reduces Dandruff
Lemongrass has been studied as a natural remedy for dandruff.
A study published in 2015 found that a hair tonic containing lemongrass oil helped reduce dandruff more effectively than a tonic without the herb.(10) Results were best when a tonic containing 10% lemongrass oil was applied twice per day over the course of two weeks.
Thus, if you suffer from unwanted dandruff, consider giving this natural remedy a try.
When applying topically, it is recommended that you dilute the essential oil and start with a small area of skin first to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction.
8. Fights Depression
As a result, lemongrass in combination with other lifestyle therapies can help relieve anxiety, boost self-esteem, uplift spirits, and increase confidence while improving mental strength.
Lemongrass also contains citronella, which is well known for its calming effect on the mind and body. Sometimes referred to as a “sedative,” it also helps you to sleep better.(12)
Drink a cup of lemongrass tea whenever you feel depressed or are in a low mood. The tea will help dispel your depressive lull to some extent.
9. Reduces Body Odor
Lemongrass oil in a diluted form works as an effective deodorant. In fact, beauty experts find lemongrass oil more effective than many of the synthetic deodorants available in the market.
The main chemical component found in lemongrass is citral, which is responsible for the herb’s aromatic prowess. Plus, it has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help destroy or inhibit the very microorganisms that cause body odor.(1)
Most people find that lemongrass is mild enough to not cause skin irritation or exacerbate skin allergies. It is, nevertheless, always a good idea to do a patch test by applying lemongrass on a small area of skin to learn your own individual response.
10. Keeps Skin Healthy
Lemongrass is also beneficial for your skin. It can help alleviate various skin issues, from aging skin to fungal infections.
Due to its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties, lemongrass helps limit bacterial or microbial growth on the skin.(1) This, in turn, helps keep your skin free of infections and lessens issues caused by bacterial or fungal infections.
Plus, it acts as an antioxidant and a freed radical scavenger, thereby mitigating oxidative stress and delaying the rate at which signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles begin to show.(13)
Dilute lemongrass oil with water or another base, such as coconut oil, before use.
- Mix 1/2 cup of freshly sliced lemongrass in 1 cup of coconut oil and heat it for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow it to cool before applying it to your skin.
- C AE, M B, V E- J. Antimicrobial activity, cytotoxicity and chemical analysis of lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and pure citral. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27562470?dopt=Abstract. Published November 2016.
- Elson CE, Underbakke GL, Hanson P, Shrago E, Weinberg RH, Qureshi AA. Impact of lemongrass oil, an essential oil, on serum cholesterol. Lipids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2586227. Published August 1989.
- Cheel J, Theoduloz C, Rodríguez J, Schmeda-Hirschmann G. Free radical scavengers and antioxidants from Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15796587?dopt=Abstract. Published April 6, 2005.
- Binia A, Jaeger J, Hu Y, Singh A, Zimmermann D. Daily potassium intake and sodium-to-potassium ratio in the reduction of blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal Of Hypertension. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26039623. Published August 2015.
- Carbajal D, Casaco A, Arruzazabala L, Gonzalez R, Tolon Z. Pharmacological study of Cymbopogon citratus leaves. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2716341. Published February 1989.
- Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763. Published November 3, 2017.
- Viana GS, Vale TG, Pinho RS, Matos FJ. Antinociceptive effect of the essential oil from Cymbopogon citratus in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10837994?dopt=Abstrac. Published June 2000.
- Dudai N, Weinstein Y, Krup M, Rabinski T, Ofir R. Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Medica. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15931590. Published May 2005.
- Chaouki W, Leger DY, Liagre B, Hmamouchi M. Citral inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in MCF‐7 cells. Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1472-8206.2009.00738.x. Published July 28, 2009.
- Chaisripipat W, Lourith N, Kanlayavattanakul M. Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) Oil. Forschende Komplementärmedizin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26566122?dopt=Abstract. Published 2015.
- Costa CA, Kohn DO, de VM, Gargano AC, Flório JC, Costa M. The GABAergic system contributes to the anxiolytic-like effect of essential oil from Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21767622?dopt=Abstract. Published September 1, 2011.
- Lorenzetti BB, Souza GE, Sarti SJ, Santos D, Ferreira SH. Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1753786?dopt=Abstract. Published August 1991.
- SAME S, B M-K, R LG. An overview about oxidation in clinical practice of skin aging. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=An overview about oxidation in clinical practice of skin aging. Published 2017.
- Basic Report: 11972, Lemon grass (citronella), raw . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3580. Published April 2018.