Lemongrass

Lemongrass: Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), sometimes called lemon grass or citronella, is a tall grass-like ingredient commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. The lower stalks and bulbs of the plant have a fresh, clean, lemony scent that is sometimes also added to teas, marinades, curries, and broths.

Lemongrass is a plant. The leaves and the oil are used to make medicine.

Lemongrass is commonly taken orally, applied directly to the skin, or inhaled as aromatherapy for many different conditions. But there is limited scientific research to support any of its common uses.

In food and beverages, lemongrass is used as a flavoring. For example, lemongrass leaves are commonly used as “lemon” flavoring in herbal teas.

In manufacturing, lemongrass is used as a fragrance in deodorants, soaps, and cosmetics. Lemongrass is also used in making vitamin A and natural citral.

How does it work?

Lemongrass might help prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast. Lemongrass also contains substances that are thought to relieve pain, reduce fever, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow, and have antioxidant properties.

Lemongrass might help prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast. Lemongrass also contains substances that are thought to relieve pain and swelling, reduce fever, improve levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow, and have antioxidant properties.

Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for:

  • High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking lemongrass oil by mouth for 90 days does not reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Yeast infection in the mouth (thrush). Early research suggests that drinking a lemongrass infusion for 10 days decreases thrush symptoms in people with HIV/AIDS better than applying a solution of gentian violet to the affected area.
  • Stomach and intestinal spasms.
  • Stomach ache.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Convulsions.
  • Use as an antiseptic and astringent.
  • Headache.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Common cold.
  • Fever.
  • Achy joints (rheumatism).
  • Cough.

Side Effects

Lemongrass is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin short-term for medicinal purposes. However, there have been some toxic side effects, such as lung problems after inhaling lemongrass and a fatal poisoning after a child swallowed a lemongrass oil-based insect repellent.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is LIKELY UNSAFE to take lemongrass by mouth during pregnancy. Lemongrass seems to be able to start menstrual flow, so there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage.

There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking lemongrass if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Benefits

When used medicinally, lemongrass may be taken by mouth, rubbed on the skin, or inhaled as an aromatherapy treatment. When taken orally, lemongrass is often used to calm stomach discomfort and other gastrointestinal issues including cramps and vomiting.

Lemongrass may also be consumed to treat:

  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Rheumatism
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer prevention
  • Common cold
  • Cough
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy

Applied to the skin, lemongrass or lemongrass oil is used to treat a headache and musculoskeletal pain. As an aromatherapy treatment, lemongrass oil extract may be inhaled to treat muscle pain, infections, cold, or flu symptoms.

May Help Lower Cholesterol

Research published in 2011 in Food and Chemical Toxicology journal revealed that the essential oils in lemongrass possess anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic properties that support healthy cholesterol levels.

One animal study has also shown that lemongrass may assist in sustaining healthy levels of triglycerides and reducing LDL or bad cholesterol. This may help in preventing the accumulation of lipids in the blood vessels and promoting an unobstructed flow of blood in the arteries, thereby preventing various cardiac disorders such as atherosclerosis.

May Fight Staphylococcus Aureus

Research 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 and essential oil, which may disrupt the growth of infections and germs and help inhibit the formation of biofilms.

May Detoxify the Body

According to a 2003 animal study, lemongrass may help in cleansing and flushing harmful toxic wastes from the body, as a result of its diuretic properties. Detoxification may help in the regulation of various organs of the body, including the liver and kidneys, while also possibly helping to lower the levels of uric acid. The possible diuretic effect of the herb helps in increasing the quantity and frequency of urination, which helps in maintaining digestive health and detoxifying the body.

May Relieve Insomnia

Lemongrass tea is considered to be helpful in calming muscles and nerves that may aid in promoting sleep. Research has shown that lemongrass tea has sedative properties, which can help in increasing the duration of sleep.

May Aid in Relieving Stomach Disorders

Studies have shown that lemongrass essential oil has potentially anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties which help in fighting the infections caused by pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori and Escherichia coli.

It is beneficial in reducing inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders; it may be helpful to consume to improve digestion and if you suffer from gastric ulcers, constipation, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach ache.

May Reduce Fever

Lemongrass is a febrifuge and is also known as the ‘fever grass’ due to its beneficial effects in lowering fever. The possible antipyretic and diaphoretic effect is extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine for curing fever by inducing sweating.

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May Act as Remedy for Respiratory Disorders

Lemongrass is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its healing effects in treating cough and cold. Along with other beneficial components, vitamin C in it may help in providing relief from nasal blockages, flu, and other respiratory disorders such as bronchial asthma.

May Help Treat Infections

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.

May Aid in Managing Type-2 Diabetes

Lemongrass has been shown to have beneficial implications for managing type-2 diabetes. An animal study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2011 indicates that the citral present in the fragrant herb may help maintain optimum levels of insulin and improve the tolerance of glucose in the body. However, more research needs to be conducted on the human population to truly understand the effects.

May Boost Immunity

Lemongrass extracts may 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 the extract exerts anti-inflammatory action and its constituent, citral, may be the cause of its inhibitory effect on cytokine production.

May Reduce Aches

Lemongrass and several of its products such as oil are known to be effective against headaches and body aches. A 2018 study suggests that not only is the herbal oil effective against muscle pain and body ache of various kinds, it is also an alternative with lesser side effects as opposed to synthetic drugs. Another study also notes the effective use of lemongrass essential oil against rheumatism, muscle spasms, and cramps.

May Improve Skin Care

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 can help 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.

May Eliminate Body Odor

Lemongrass is used in the manufacturing of deodorants due to its cleansing and antibacterial properties. Deodorants help combat unpleasant body odor and prevent fungal and bacterial infections. It can also be added to footbaths for sanitizing sore and smelly feet.

Can Act as an Insect Repellent

Lemongrass is used as a natural insect repellent and helps in preventing the occurrence of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and possibly Lyme disease. Studies have shown that lemongrass oil has antimalarial and anti-protozoan properties, which is why it is used in many mosquito repellents.

Can Act as an Insect Repellent

Lemongrass is used as a natural insect repellent and helps in preventing the occurrence of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and possibly Lyme disease. Studies have shown that lemongrass oil has antimalarial and anti-protozoan properties, which is why it is used in many mosquito repellents.

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