Lemongrass Plant and its Uses, Benefits and Side Effects

lemongrass use side effects benefits

Lemongrass Plant and its Uses, Benefits and Side Effects

Can you imagine your favorite Thai dish without that sweet lemongrass smell? Of course not. Lemongrass is to Thai cuisine what cheese is to pizza. And, there is much more to the humble lemongrass plant than making your favorite Thai green curry lip smacking good.  

Lemongrass is used in a lot of Thai and Veitnamese cooking. Its sweet, lemony flavour adds more life to dishes, making it a hot favourite, but did you know that this particular type of grass has several medicinal, therapeutic, and cosmetic benefits as well? 

In this article, you will learn all the lemongrass benefits, side effects, and precautionary measures, if any. 

What is lemongrass Plant?

Lemongrass, essentially, as the name suggests, is a type of grass that has a lemon-like flavour and smell to it. It happens to be a tropical grass, with long grass-like leaves and a more solid portion below the ground.

Lemongrass usually grows in clusters or bunches, and are found mostly in tropical or subtropical climatic regions. It is easily found in countries like Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Central Africa, the USA, and Southeast Asia. (1)

Lemon grass is most commonly used in cooking, like mentioned above, but did you know that this wonderful plant is also used in cocktails? There’s more…it is used in various sodas and desserts as well. In some places, lemon grass is also used as an insect repellant. 

Lemon grass is also known as Cochin grass, Malabar grass, oil heads, barbed wire grass, or Cymbopogon.

Types of Lemongrass Plant

There are many varieties of lemongrass plants, however the two most commonly found and used varieties are as follows- 

1.Cymbopogon citratus 

This type of lemon grass is found mostly in southeast Asia. it is used for largely in the cuisine and for culinary purposes. This type of lemon grass is also used as a medicinal herb and for its fragrance in cooking. (2)

2. Cymbopogon flexuosus 

Cymbopogon flexuosus is used mainly in countries like Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, again, for culinary purposes as well as for its medicinal benefits. (3)

How to grow lemongrass 

Lemongrass is one herb that is pretty easy to grow, so don’t worry about the need for green thumbs.

It is a tropical plant that requires tropical and subtropical conditions to grow, so if you happen to reside in one such region, then growing lemongrass should be a piece of cake for you.

While it is native to most parts of Asia, India, and Sri Lanka, it can be grown easily in several other countries across the world as well. (2)

There are two ways to grow lemongrass –

1. With lemongrass seeds 

You can buy lemongrass seeds from a local plant nursery, or if you do not find them in a physical store, you can go ahead and buy some online as well.

First, you need to germinate the seeds. Lemon grass seeds germinate quite fast.

To do this, place the seeds in some moist cotton.

Once the seed has germinated, it is time to plant it.

You can start by growing them in a pot, as this way, you can control the sunlight better.

If you want to grow it them on a small patch in your garden, that is fine too. (3)

2. With lemongrass stalks 

If you can’t find lemongrass seeds, you can grow them from lemongrass stalks as well.

Buy some lemongrass stalks from your local grocery store.

Make sure lemon grass leaves and stalks are fresh. Then, chop off the top half of the plant, so only around five centimetres are remaining. Get rid of any dying part of the plant as well.

Now, gently place the bottom part of the plant in a bowl of water.

Leave it near a window with ample sunlight. After a few days or a week, you will notice small roots at its base.

Once the plant is strong enough and the roots look a little long, plant it in a pot or in your garden.

It is worth noting that the roots tend to spread, so make sure you have a barrier in place if you don’t want the plant to move out too much.

Lemongrass requires good sunlight, as well as ample moisture, so don’t let the plants dry out. (4)

How to use lemongrass 

Let’s look at lemongrass uses and the forms it can be used:

  1. Lemongrass tea 

One of the most common ways of consuming lemon grass, is in the form of tea. This is common in Latin American and African cultures. Thanks to its lemon-like flavour, lemon grass herbal tea tastes great. Many people also drink lemon grass infused water. It has various benefits, including a calming, soothing effect on the mind.

  1. Lemongrass oil 

Its oil is used for its fragrance, and a soothing oil in massages, and in aromatherapy for its calming properties.  Lemon grass essential oils are also used as bath oils during spa treatments, as it helps with blood circulation as well. [13]

  1. Lemongrass in cooking 

Lemon grass stalks are used for cooking. The mild citrus like flavour makes it great for garnishing. Fresh lemon grass is also used in a few cocktails.  [12]

Lemongrass Benefits and Side Effects

Lemongrass, as mentioned before, is chock full of benefits. Listed below are a few benefits of lemongrass, that you should be aware of  – 

Lemongrass Benefits

1. Relieving anxiety: Health benefits of lemongrass on your day to day life

Lemon grass has a calming effect on your mind. One of the side effects of you being stressed and anxious is high blood pressure.

The use of lemongrass, in the form of aromatherapy or even through the consumption of lemon grass tea, has shown promising results that eases the effects of anxiety and stress.

A Lot of people consume lemongrass tea for anxiety and stress relief.

In a study conducted in 2015, it was seen that lemongrass oil that was used regularly during massage therapy, resulted in the lowering of blood pressure. [1]

2. Lowering cholesterol: Lemongrass health benefits on Heart Health

Both lemon grass oil as well as lemon grass tea have shown to be beneficial in managing and regulating the levels of cholesterol in the body.

There is a common misconception that cholesterol is bad for your body, but that’s not true.

Cholesterol by itself is not harmful for your body. In fact, it is responsible for the development of cells and hormones. 

However, when the level of cholesterol in your body rises, then that’s when the problems begin.

It paves the way for life threatening issues like heart diseases and stroke.

Lemon grass significantly lowers the amount of cholesterol in the body, thereby preventing heart ailments and strokes. [2]

3. Preventing infection: Lemongrass benefits for skin

Lemon grass has superior antibacterial qualities.

This means that it comes in handy in the treatment of infections.

For years, lemongrass oil has been used as a natural remedy to heal wounds and treat infections.

Lemongrass oil has been beneficial in treating pneumonia, blood infections, intestinal infections, and various skin diseases as well.

Lemongrass tea is used to treat cavities and oral infections. 

The antimicrobial properties in it helps fight against a type of bacteria that is responsible for tooth decay known as Streptococcus mutans.

It has also helped treat athlete’s feet, ringworms, urinary tract infections, and scabies. [3]

4. Weight Loss:

Lemon grass also happens to be a great choice if you are planning to embark on a weight-loss mission.

In case you haven’t heard already, lemongrass tea is one of the best detox drinks available.

It helps kick-start and boost your metabolism, which in turn helps you drop some pounds. 

5. Natural Diuretic

Lemon grass also happens to be a natural diuretic, which means that it makes you pass urine more often than normal, thereby cleansing your system as a detoxification process.

You could consider replacing a few of your health drinks with water laced with lemongrass or lemongrass tea. 

6. Lowers Lipid Accumulation

This is a great alternative to unsweetened drinks as well.

Lemon grass oil also contains citral, which incidentally constitutes about 80% of the main components.

Now citral, can help reduce the accumulation of lipids or fats.

It can also increase the dissipation of energy.

Both, the dissipation of energy and the lowering of lipid accumulation is great for weight loss. [4]

7. May help in gastrointestinal disorders

Lemon grass is great for digestion. In fact, drinking lemon grass tea in case you are suffering from an upset stomach is a great home remedy for digestive issues.

People who constantly suffer from gastric ulcers should consider consuming lemon grass tea as well.

This is because it can help protect the lining inside the stomach. 

Also, if you find yourself consuming aspirin and ethanol regularly, then chances are that you are suffering from ulcers.

Make sure you consume lemon grass to deal with this issue. [5]

8. Increasing red blood cell count in anaemia

Could lemon grass help increase your blood count and reverse the effects if anaemia?

Well, according to a study conducted by a group of researchers from two universities of Uyo and Calabar, lemongrass has the potential to treat anemia.

Participants in this study consumee a water infused with extracts of lemongrass on a daily basis.

After this, the researchers observed an increase in the percentage of red blood cells, as well as the packed cell volume and hemoglobin levels. [6]

9. Anticancer Potential

As mentioned above, a major constituent of lemongrass is citral, which makes for up to 80% of its composition.

The citral in lemongrass is capable of driving cancer cells to commit suicide and self destruct.

And the best part is, it leaves the healthy cells unharmed.

Additionally, lemongrass also boosts your immune system, which in turn helps fight and manage cancer. [7]

10. Relieves edema & bloating

Edema is a condition which includes the abnormal accumulation of fluids in the body, which causes puffiness or bloating.

In these cases, fluids usually accumulate under the skin, but in some cases, lungs can also retain the fluids. 

Lemongrass can be largely beneficial in treating bloating that is caused due to edema as well as the overall treatment of edema in itself.

Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties so it provides relief from bloating.

Since it is a diuretic, it also helps relieve the accumulation of fluid in the body. [8]

11. Good for Skin

Since lemongrass has great anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, it is safe to say that it works wonders for your skin as well.

It can help keep invaders like germs, bacteria, and infections at bay, and help in maintaining clear skin. 

It also has antioxidant properties, which means it can help maintain a balance of the free radicals in your body.

Thanks to its astringent qualities, it can help maintain the constriction of blood vessels as well.

Including lemongrass as a part of you skin care regime, for maximum benefits. [9]

Lemongrass side effects 

Lemongrass has no serious side effects, and scientists consider it as a safe herb. In fact, its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties makes it a great herb with several benefits for your body. 

However, it can induce menstrual flow. So women who are pregnant are advised against the consumption of lemongrass. [10]

Dosage 

Several factors like your age, state of health, and previous history of health-related incidents come into play while deciding the appropriate dosage for you. Although lemongrass is a naturally occuring herb, too much of anything is bad. 

So make sure you consume it in moderation. Consult your physician or a healthcare professional, to be on the safer side. (11)

FAQ

Q1. Can lemongrass help you lose weight?

Lemongrass happens to be a great choice if you are planning to embark on a weight loss mission. It helps kick-start and boost your metabolism, which in turn helps you drop some pounds.

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