The health benefits of lemongrass include relief from stomach disorders, insomnia, respiratory disorders, fever, aches, infections, rheumatism, and edema. The defensive antioxidant activity of the lemongrass herb protects against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels, cellular health, nervous system, healthy skin, and the immune system. It also helps with managing type 2 [diabetes], preventing cancer, and reducing obesity, while also aiding in detoxification. It is extensively used in aromatherapy and helps combat fatigue, anxiety, and body odor.
Lemongrass – An Aromatic Healer
Cymbopogon citratus, also known as lemongrass, is an herb which belongs to the grass family of Poaceae . It is utilized for its distinct lemon flavor and citrusy aroma. It is a tall, perennial grass which is native to India and tropical regions of Asia. It is a rough and tufted plant with linear leaves that grows in thick bunches, emerging from a strong base and standing for about 3 meters in height with a meter-wide stretch.
In addition to its culinary usage, this herb offers an array of medicinal benefits and is in extensive demand due to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties across Southeast Asia, as well as the African and American continents.
The genus Cymbopogon comprises 55 species of grasses, two of which are referred to as lemongrass. These are Cymbopogon citratus, which is famously preferred for culinary use and Cymbopogon flexuosus, which is used in the manufacturing of fragrances because of its extended shelf life, owing to the low amount of myrcene in that variety.
Lemongrass Nutrition Facts
Lemongrass contains antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolic compounds such as luteolin, glycosides, , kaempferol, elemicin, catechol, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid, all of which help in providing an impressive range of medicinal aids.
The main component of this fragrant herb is lemonal or citral, which has anti-fungal and anti-microbial qualities, while also providing a distinct lemony smell.
Lemongrass is an aromatic storehouse of essential nutrients providing an array of health benefits. The USDA National Nutrient Database shows that it is a source of essential [vitamins] such as vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, and [vitamin C]. It also provides essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, and iron, which are required for the healthy functioning of the human body. It offers no harmful cholesterol or fats.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
Let us look, in details, at some of the most well-known health benefits of lemongrass:
Research published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal in the year 2011 revealed that lemongrass possesses anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic properties that support healthy cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that regular consumption helps in sustaining healthy levels of triglycerides and reducing the LDL cholesterol in the body. This helps in preventing the accumulation of lipids in the blood vessels and promotes an unobstructed flow of blood in the arteries, preventing various cardiac disorders such as atherosclerosis
Detoxifies the Body
According to a 2003 study, lemongrass helps in cleansing and flushing harmful toxic wastes out of the body, as a result of its diuretic properties. Detoxification helps in the regulation of various organs of the body, including the liver and kidney, while also helping to lower the levels of uric acid. The diuretic effect of the herb helps in increasing the quantity and frequency of urination, which helps in maintaining digestive health, eliminating accrued fats, and assisting in maintaining a clean system.
Lemongrass is effective in preventing the growth of cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells of the body. Research conducted to prove the anti-cancerous activity of lemongrass has shown promising outcomes in the prevention of skin cancer. This is mainly because of the presence of a chemical compound called citral in it.
A research conducted on the effects of citral on cancer cells shows that it helps in inhibiting the growth of hepatic cancer cells during the initial phase and prevents any further growth of cancerous cells. Another study provides supporting evidence regarding the anti-proliferative effect of citral in impeding the growth of human breast cancer cells and the induction of apoptosis.
Research conducted at the School of Health, The University of Northampton, UK and published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology has shown that lemongrass essential oil has an anti-biofilm capacity and is beneficial against the infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus .It contains phenols which possess the capability to spread quickly through the body tissues and cure biofilms located anywhere in the body. It disrupts the growth and communication of germs, which helps in inhibiting the formation of the biofilms. The herb’s essential oil is used for application, both topically as well as internally to cure the diseases diagnosed with biofilms, such as Lyme disease
Studies have shown that lemongrass essential oil has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties which help in fighting the infections caused by various pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori and Escherichia coli . It is beneficial in the prevention of gastrointestinal disorders such as gastric ulcers, helps in stimulating the bowel function, and improves digestion. The anti-inflammatory property of the herb is beneficial for treating constipation, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, nausea and stomach aches.
Lemongrass aids in calming muscles and nerves, which helps in inducing deep sleep. Research has shown that its herbal tea has sedative and hypnotic properties which help in increasing the duration of sleep.
Lemongrass is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its healing effects in treating cough and cold. Along with other beneficial components, the vitamin C content present in it helps in providing relief from nasal blockages, flu and other respiratory disorders such as bronchial asthma.
Lemongrass is a febrifuge and is also known as the ‘fever grass’, owing to its beneficial effects in lowering fever. The anti-pyretic and diaphoretic effect is extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine for curing fevers by inducing sweating.
Lemongrass works as an antiseptic and is effective in treating infections such as ringworm, sores, Athlete’s Foot, scabies, and urinary tract infections (UTI) because of its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
Studies have shown that the herb exerts healing effects on dermatological infections, such as yeast infections, by inhibiting the growth of pathogens. Another study provides supporting evidence that demonstrated the efficacy of lemongrass over thyme, patchouli, and cedarwood oil in the treatment of various diseases such as oral or vaginal candidiasis.
Lemongrass alleviates the pain and discomfort caused by [headaches and migraines] due to its analgesic properties. The phytonutrientspresent in it improve blood circulation and help in relieving spasms, muscle cramps. It is valuable in treating [sports wounds, including dislocations, internal injuries, and bruises]
Lemongrass is nervine and has been proven to be a tonic for the nervous system. It stimulates the mind and helps in combating convulsions, nervousness, vertigo, and various neuronal disorders. It is used in therapeutic baths, which assist in calming the nerves and alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and fatigue caused by stress.
Lemongrass has been proven beneficial in treating type-2 diabetes. Studies have shown that the citral present in it help maintain optimum levels of insulin and improve the tolerance of glucose in the body.
Relieves Pain & Inflammation
Lemongrass is effective in relieving the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatism. It can be applied topically on both lumbago and sprains and helps in relieving neuralgia.
Lemongrass helps in restoring the vital systems which are operational in the body, including digestion, respiration, excretion, and the nervous system. This assists in the better absorption of nutrients and strengthening of the immune defense mechanism of the body. Lemongrass extracts have a beneficial effect on the inflammatory actions of cytokines, which are the signaling molecules through which the cells communicate and respond to the body. Studies have shown that lemongrass exerts anti-inflammatory action and its constituent, citral, may be the cause of its inhibitory effect on cytokine production.
Lemongrass has been treasured as a skin tonic and makes an effective cleanser for oily or acne-prone skin, due to its astringent and antiseptic qualities. It helps in strengthening the skin tissues and toning up the pores while also sterilizing them. Care should be taken while using lemongrass products, as the undiluted application might lead to dermal irritation in some cases.
Lemongrass possesses antioxidant qualities and helps in protecting the body cells from oxygen-derived free radicals. It also helps in the cleansing of blood and strengthening the spleen to discard the tarnished red blood cells. It supports the function of the thymus glands which helps produce white blood cells. It helps in stimulating the regeneration of cells. The folate and potassium content in the stem and leaves of lemongrass aids in DNA synthesis and promotes cell division.
Lemongrass is effective in curing the condition of water retention or edema. It has a cleansing effect on lymphatic congestion and helps soothe the swelling.
Lemongrass consists of the beneficial ingredients of essential oils such as neroli, citronellol, myrcene, dipentene, geraniol and methyl heptenone which possess anti-fungal, insecticidal, and antiseptic properties.
Lemongrass oil is extensively used in aromatherapy, due to its therapeutic effects, which help in revitalizing the body. The cooling effect of lemongrass oil is beneficial for the body during hot weather and promotes the revival of both the mind and soul.
This oil possesses natural astringent and toning qualities which help in stimulating blood circulation and tones up the dermal tissues. It also helps in tightening, uplifting and firming lethargic or sagging skin.
Lemongrass contains citral, which has been proven to be effective in combating obesity. It prevents the accumulation of abdominal fat and promotes the use of stored energy, which helps in preventing diet-induced weight gain. It aids in healthy metabolism and enhances the oxidation of fatty acids in the body.
Lemongrass is used in the manufacturing of deodorants due to its cleansing and antibacterial properties which help combat unpleasant body-odor and prevent fungal and bacterial infections. It can also be added to footbaths for sanitizing sore and odorous feet.
Lemongrass is used as a natural insect repellent and helps in preventing the occurrence of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue Studies have provided supporting evidence regarding the anti-malarial and anti-protozoan properties of lemongrass, which makes its oil an effective ingredient in mosquito repellents.
Apart from folk medicines, lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cuisines, especially those of Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. It is used for adding flavor to beverages such as teas, curries, and soups, and also finds extensive use in the preparation of pudding, meat products, candies, and baked goods.
Lemongrass is used in the manufacturing of perfumes, deodorants, polishes, candles, and waxes. It is also used to add fragrance to soaps and cosmetic products.
It is used to lure and attract honey bees for various commercial purposes.
Hydrophobic Properties : Lemongrass is used for preserving ancient palm leaf manuscripts and protects them from the damage caused by microorganisms.  It strengthens the leaves by providing the required moisture to the fragile palm leaves without letting the humidity cause any loss to the stored text. This protective effect can be attributed to the hydrophobic properties of lemongrass oil.
Pet Products : Lemongrass is used in the manufacturing of shampoos and grooming products for pets due to its repellent effects on lice and ticks
- Although considered safe, the topical use of lemongrass oil or the ingestion of herbal tea can result in allergic reactions in some people.
- Undiluted or concentrated lemongrass oil should not be applied directly on the body as it may result in harmful reactions. It is always advisable to keep the pure essential oil out of the reach of children.
- It is also strongly recommended to consult a health professional before considering lemongrass oil for therapeutic usage; especially during pregnancy, when trying to conceive, breastfeeding, and during the course of any ongoing medical treatments.