Lemongrass medicinal herb can alleviate cough and nasal congestion

lemon grass taken at home in JamaicaFever Grass

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus) medicinal herb is a perennial plant, which means once you plant it, the grass comes back year after year. I have a plant right in my front yard and from time to time scores of people will ask for a piece of this plant.  In Jamaica, it is also called fever grass. It is native to Sri Lanka and South India and it from the Poaceae family.  The main parts used as herbal medicine are the entire plant and its essential oil.

The common names are Lemon grass, Fever grass, West Indian Lemon grass, Citronelo, Cymbopogon Citratus, Cochin grass and Silky heads.

The medicinal properties are sedative, diuretic, nervine, stimulant, aromatic, antibacterial, astringent, laxative, carminative, antimicrobial, ant-inflammatory, anti-fungal and sedative.

The constituents are vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, fat, citral, volatile oil, elemol, citronellol, protein, sodium, selenium, manganese, iron, ash, carbohydrate, alkaloids, calcium, dipentene, nerol, linalool and saponins.

In 2006 a research team from the Ben Gurion University in Israel found that this grass (Cymbopogon citratus) caused apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Through in vitro studies, the researchers examined the effect of citral, a molecule found in this herb, on both normal and cancerous cells.

Using concentrations of citral equivalent to the quantity in a cup of tea (one gram of lemon grass in hot water), the researchers observed that citral induces programmed cell death in the cancerous cells, while the normal cells were left unharmed.

Depending on the area you live in this medicinal herb, also called lemon grass, will go dormant in the winter. You can also freeze it for about 6 months without any flavor loss.

Health benefits of lemongrass

This plant is available in ethnic markets such as Asian and Mexican. The bulb can be bruised and minced for use in a variety of recipes. This substance is said to aid in digestion as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches.

It is used for medicinal purposes and it can be used to make a wonderful tea as well as a delicious beverage.  It is also used for ague, fever and colds. It is also used as a bush bath or herbal bath.

Select fresh looking stalks that do not look dry or brittle. The light lemon flavor of this grass blends well with garlic, chilies, and cilantro. It is rich in a substance called citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel.

I personally pick a few of the stalks each morning and put it in boiling water for a few minutes. Then I sweeten it with honey and drink a cup of this delicious medicinal plant.

Lemon grass may be used as culinary herb

This medicinal herb is frequently used in curries as well as in seafood soups. For best results in recipes use the fresh lemongrass. The powdered variety is useful in teas and curries but it's not a good substitute for the fresh product.

This is a very pungent medicinal herb and is normally used in small amounts. It is seen as a spice.  The grass blade can be sliced very fine and added to soups. Store it fresh in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to 3 weeks. The entire stalk of the grass can be used.

The dried product has to be soaked in hot water and reconstituted before use. In addition, it may be purchased dried or powdered.

It is said that the tastiest food in the world comes from South East Asia who boast of a very rich culture.  One of the ingredients that they commonly used in their food is lemon grass.  It becomes a part of their unique taste in the food.

Lemon grass herbal products

It is also used commercially as lemon scent in many products including soaps, perfumes and candles. A related plant, (Cymbopogon nardus) is the ingredient in citronella candles sold to ward off mosquitoes and other insects.

Some folks put cuts of the leaves in green alcohol and used as repellent.  They testified that this natural approach is very effective.

Research also shows that the lemon grass oil has anti-fungal properties.

My own lemongrass beverage recipe:

  • Put to boil 4 stalks of lemongrass in water
  • After which let it simmer for ten minutes
  • Sweeten to taste with either honey or brown sugar
  • Put aside to cool
  • Add you desired amount of ice cubes
  • Then enjoy your lemongrass beverage

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