Lemongrass, which is also called Cymbopogon citratus, is an herb from the grass family of Poaceae. Lemongrass, which is also called fever grass, is a perennial grass which grows tall which is a native to India and tropical expanse of Asia. The plant is perennial plant with thin, long leaves which grows in thick bunches. It has a strong base which stands for about 3 meters in height and a meter-side stretch. Lemongrass is known well all over the world and is popularly used for its distinctive lemon flavour and citrusy aroma. Lemongrass is a grass which is in widespread demand all over the world especially across Southeast Asia, Australia, African and American continents. There are 55 species of grass in the genus Cymbopogon and out of this two are referred to as Lemongrass. The West Indian lemon grass is called cymbopogon citrates and is used for culinary purposes and the East Indian lemongrass is called Cymbopogon flexuosus and this is used in the manufacturing of products like fragrances etc. This is because of the extended shelf life of this variety of lemongrass and its low content of myrcene present in it. Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine and also used in teas, soups and curries. Lemongrass smells like lemon but the taste is much milder and sweeter and this is the reason why it is used as flavouring agent in many Asian cuisines.
Nutritional value of Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a good source of vitamin A, B1(thiamine), B2(riboflavin), B3(niacin), B5(pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), folate and vitamin C, folate and folic acid. It also offers essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese and phosphorus which are required for the healthy functioning of the human body. Thre is small presence of vitamin B also in lemongrass and it does not offer any harmful cholesterol or fats. Lemongrass has antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolic compounds present in it like luteolin, glycosides, quercetin, kaempferol, elimicin, catecol, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid which is useful for many medicinal aids. The main components of lemongrass is lemonal and citral which has strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities.
Lemongrass has many medicinal properties which are beneficial including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antipyretic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, galactogogue, and insecticidal, sedative, and anti-cancer properties. Lemongrass is useful in alternative remedies for wide range of ailments. The different parts of the lemongrass used for various treatments are the leaves, stems and bulb. There are different types of lemongrass products like fresh and dried lemongrass, lemongrass oil and other types of supplements available in the market. Lemongrass tea is used widely in home remedies for various health issues and ready-to-use tea bags are also available in the market.
Digestion: Lemongrass promotes healthy digestion and its antiseptic compounds effectively bad bacteria and parasites in the digestive tracts and helps fill the good bacteria in the colon. Lemongrass helps treat digestive health problems like indigestion, constipation, heartburn, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, stomach spasms, cramps and vomiting. The antimicrobial properties of the lemongrass help ease gastroenteritis.
Cholesterol: Lemongrass controls cholesterol levels and through its anti-cholesterol and anti-atherosclerosis action it helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol from intestine. Lemongrass helps in the removal of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in the blood and this helps to prevent atherosclerotic plaque build up. The high potassium content in lemongrass helps lower and regulate blood pressure.
Cleanser and Detoxifier: The diuretic properties of lemongrass helps removes toxins, uric acid and bad cholesterol from the body by increasing the frequency and quantity of urination and excess urination also helps cleaning the kidneys. Proper cleaning helps purify the liver, kidneys, bladder and pancreas and increases blood circulation.
Heals colds and flu: The antibacterial and antifungal properties of lemongrass helps heal regular health problems like cough, fever, and other cold related problems and flu symptoms. It has strong presence of vitamin C in it which boosts the immune system to fight the infection. Lemongrass oil is also use for relieving pain in muscles and joints and headaches resulting from cold and flu. Lemongrass is effective in breaking down mucus and phlegm build up in the body which is turn helps problems related to breathing like bronchitis and asthma.
Cancer: Citral, which is a component present in lemongrass causes apoptosis in cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells and lemongrass tea, can help fight cancer according to studies. In Israel, lemongrass tea is used to help the healing process of cancer and also while undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Citral also slows the growth of breast cancer cells and the antioxidants properties in lemongrass help lower the risk of cancer by fighting free radicals.
Arthritis Pain: The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of lemongrass is used widely in treating arthritis, rheumatism, osteoarthritis, gout and many other types of joint pains. It helps suppress the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 which is an enzyme involved in inflammation which causes joint pains. Lemongrass also helps ease muscle spasms or sprains by relaxing the muscles and reduces the pain related problems.
Increase Breast Milk production: Lemongrass is highly beneficial for breastfeeding mothers and this is because of its galactogogue properties. The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties helps the babies remain healthy and free from the general infections. But it is better to avoid using lemongrass during pregnancy.
Depression: The antidepressant properties help treat depression by activating the release of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which fights depression. Lemongrass relieved anxiety, boosts self esteem, uplifts spirits and provides confidence and improves mental strength. Citronella, which is present in lemongrass, is known to provide calming effect on the mind and body and it helps to provide better sleep.
Skin: Lemongrass is beneficial for the skin and it helps lessen skin problems, from large pores to fungal infections. It controls excessive sweating and destroys microorganisms which causes body odour and make sure that there is no skin irritation or skin allergies. It helps control bacterial and microbial growth on the skin and keeps the skin free from infections.
Diabetes: Lemongrass is effective in treating type-2 diabetes because the citral present in lemongrass helps maintain optimum levels of insulin and improves tolerance of glucose level in the body.