Lemon grass (cymbopogon citratus) is commonly used in herbal tea, or used raw, crushed or powdered. It is also used in cooking such dishes as soups or curry. Lemon grass is known for its ability to aid in digestive health, pain relief as well as for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Here is how it can help and how it can be used.
As natural holistic approaches to health and preventative medicine are becoming more popular and better known, people are realizing that there are many remedies which can help prevent or treat common ailments. These are not a replacement for prescription drugs of which there are sometimes no other alternative, but more often than not remedies such as the ones that use herbs like lemongrass can help and do not have the adverse affects of some conventional medications.
Lemongrass is a fibrous plant which naturally grows in many countries. Some varieties are specifically native to places including India, Thailand and Sri Lanka and other varieties are native to Malaysia. These are divided into West and East Indian lemongrasses.
Lemongrass has been found to help in recovery of the common cold and flu, reducing fevers, cramps, flatulence and arthritic pain as well as aid digestion especially in children. It has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time. Citral is the main element in lemongrass, which gives it its fresh lemon scent and repels insects. Researchers in Israel at Ben Gurion University have found that daily intake of 1,000mg of citral represses cancer cells and helps battle depression.
Considerations for Cooking
The stalks of lemongrass can be chopped or pounded for use in Thai and Indian cooking. The flavor goes well in sauces, in stir fry, curries, soups and with fish. Current studies are being conducted to investigate the beneficial properties in tom yum soup for which lemongrass is a main ingredient. This soup is thought to have immune-boosting properties and even posses the ability to help fight cancer.
Herbal Insect Repellant
Lemongrass is similar in properties to citronella grass and so has some of the same repellant effects on insects. It can be crushed and rubbed directly onto the skin to help stave off annoying bugs. It is also an ingredient in the making of citronella candles, soaps and sprays.
Due to the significant fungicidal activity toward common infection-causing fungi, lemongrass is sometimes used to help prevent and cure athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. James A. Duke, PhD, suggests in his book “The Green Pharmacy” to enjoy one to four cups of lemongrass tea every day. “For additional antifungal benefit, apply the spent tea bags directly to the affected area,” he writes.