Lemongrass Benefits

Lemongrass
Latin Name

Cymbopogon flexuosus

Also Known As

British Indian Lemongrass, Ceylon Citronella Grass, Citronella, Citronnelle, Cochin Lemongrass

Origin

Southeast Asia

Parts Used

Whole part of plant

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

A beautifully fresh and aromatic herb, Lemongrass has been in use on the Asian sub-continent for thousands of years. In Sri Lanka and East India it is used to make “fever grass tea”, a herbal remedy to reduce a fever and alleviate cough and cold symptoms.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lemongrass belongs to the category of herbs that “warm the interior and expel cold”. It is used to headaches, stomach aches, cramps and rheumatic pains. In the Caribbean and South America it remains one of the most popular herbs to treat digestive problems and nervous system disorders.

Lemongrass Benefits

Central Nervous System

Lemongrass is a “nervine” – a herb that specifically supports the nervous system to combat symptoms of stress and anxiety. It lowers levels of stress hormones and acts as a tonic for frazzled nerves, making it beneficial in the treatment of various nervous disorders such as vertigo and uncontrollable shaking.

The calming properties of Lemongrass make it very helpful in promoting a good night’s sleep, especially where stress and anxiety are the cause of sleepless nights. It helps to soothe the mind and body by inducing the release of serotonin, the pre-cursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. One study published in the "Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine" found that when subjects were exposed to a situation that caused anxiety, the group who were exposed to the scent of Lemongrass essential oil experienced a significant decrease in anxiety immediately after treatment. A cup of Lemongrass tea or diffusing the essential oil in your bedroom can help you to relax and wind down in readiness for sleep.

Digestive System Support

Used for thousands of years in ancient medicinal systems as a digestive aid, Lemongrass contains the compound citral which enhances nutrient absorption and helps to maintain healthy metabolism. The antioxidants present in this herb support a healthy environment for good bacteria to thrive in the gut by preventing the growth of yeast and other bad bacteria.

The strong anti-microbial and antibacterial properties of Lemongrass are also helpful in fighting stomach disorders caused by various pathogens. One study found that Lemongrass leaves can help to protect the stomach lining from damage by aspirin and alcohol – a common cause of gastric ulcers.

Fever Reducer/Immune Boosting

Lemongrass has been used for millennia as a fever reducer in its native countries. It is classed as a “febrifuge” – a medicine to reduce fever – and has an anti-pyretic and diaphoretic effect, meaning it helps to break a fever that has run to dangerously high temperatures by inducing sweating.

The natural immune boosting qualities of Lemongrass are attributed to its ability to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, which can contribute to illness.

Diffusing Lemongrass essential oil in an oil burner has also been found to combat airborne viruses that can cause the common cold and flu.

Type II Diabetes

The high citral content of Lemongrass is responsible for its many benefits; it helps to maintain healthy insulin levels in the body, thus supporting better glucose tolerance. A 2007 study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" found that taking Lemongrass daily improved fasting glucose levels, cholesterol levels and led to lower triglyceride levels. The study concluded that more research is needed but advised caution to those taking diabetes medication to consult their doctor before consuming high amounts of this herb.

Skin Infections

Because of its powerful anti-microbial, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, Lemongrass essential oil (diluted in a carrier oil) has been proven effective in the treatment of conditions such as; athlete’s foot, ringworm, scabies and yeast infections. Studies have shown that the properties of Lemongrass inhibit the growth of pathogens, and that the key compound citral is effective at reducing fungal infections  - especially those caused by the Candida albicans fungus.

Skin Health

Lemongrass has a long history as a natural ingredient for skincare. Its antiseptic and astringent properties make it ideal for use as a natural cleanser and toner, sterilising and toning up the pores whilst strengthening the skin. Its diuretic properties can reduce puffy skin and cellulite when the oil is diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the affected area.

Healthy Weight Loss

Lemongrass contains polyphenolic compounds that work to stimulate metabolism, allowing the body to burn fat more efficiently whilst boosting energy levels. It is also a natural diuretic that will help the body flush out excess water, eliminating excess fluid retention whilst gently detoxifying the liver and kidneys.

Its star compound, citral, has been found to be effective in combating obesity, preventing the accumulation of abdominal fat and promoting the use of stored energy. Replacing caffeine laden beverages with a cup of refreshing Lemongrass tea can go a long way as part of a healthy weight loss plan.

Natural Insect Repellent

One of the most famous uses of Lemongrass essential oil is as an effective and natural insect repellent. It is thought that the citronella content of Lemongrass is responsible for its insect repelling abilties. It blocks the scent that attract mosquitoes and other biting insects such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide, making it harder for insects to locate you. Furthermore, research has shown that citronella helps to reduce mosquito landing by 40 percent. 

Typical Use

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Dilute with a carrier oil before topical application. Lemongrass essential oil can be used in natural skin care products, massage and bath oils. It can also be diffused in an aromatherapy burner or added to water to make a zingy and refreshing room spray.

Lemongrass Tea

Steep fresh or dried Lemongrass root in boiling water for 5 minutes. 

Folklore and History

Lemongrass enjoys a prominent place in the history of Asian cuisine where it has been used for centuries to add its unique flavour to traditional dishes of meat, seafood and vegetables, and to spice up marinades and pickles. It is commonly used to flavour coconut milk which is used to poach various foodstuffs.

The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used this lemon scented herb to make cosmetics and medicine - knowing back then about its many benefits to the skin and bodily systems. 

Oil of Lemongrass was also used to promote clear thinking and support memory. Its action was thought to be spiritually cleansing, and as such it was used to combat jinxes and remove negative energy. 

Lemongrass
Constituents

Lemongrass contains up to 75-85% citral. Other compounds include; z-citral, borneol, estragole, methyleugenol, geranyl acetate, geraniol, beta-myrcene, limonene, piperitone, citronellal, carene-2, alpha-terpineole, pinene, farnesol, proximadiol and cymbodiacetal.

Precautions

Lemongrass essential oil must be diluted in a carrier oil before topical use. It is also recommended to perform a skin patch test with the diluted oil.

Please contact your healthcare practitioner before using Lemongrass if you are; pregnant or breastfeeding, taking diabetes medication, undergoing chemotherapy or have liver disease.