Its zesty flavor makes it a popular ingredient in many Chinese and Thai recipes, but lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), also known as fever grass, is loaded with various medicinal properties, too. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and manganese. It also contains traces of B vitamins.
The antibacterial properties of lemongrass oil are useful in treating various infections of the upper respiratory tract, lungs and stomach. A decoction prepared from the stalk can effectively fight intestinal parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica, which cause dysentery.(1,2)
Lemongrass oil is active against fungal infections of the skin such as ringworm and food storage fungi.(3,4,5) It also suppressed the Plasmodium berghei malarial parasite by 86.6 percent when compared with chloroquine.(6) Animal studies show that lemongrass plant extract can also lower elevated cholesterol levels significantly.(7,8)
Lemongrass To Prevent Cancer
Citral, a chemical compound present in lemongrass that gives it a lemony aroma and taste, exhibits anti-cancer activity.(9) A drink with as little as one gram of lemongrass contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide by causing apoptosis (self-destruction), says a study. Other studies also point out that lemongrass extract can stop the spread of liver cancer. (9,10,11)
How To Use It
1. To make lemongrass tea, take two to three stalks of lemongrass and cut off the tough upper stem to find the tender inner flesh. Chop into one-inch pieces. Pour a cup of boiling water over them and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink twice daily to reduce your risk of cancer.
2. To buy lemongrass tea bags online, click here.
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1. De Blasi V, Debrot S, Menoud PA, Gendre L, Schowing J. Amoebicidal effect of essential oils in vitro. J Toxicol Clin Exp. 1990 Oct;10(6):361-73. PubMed PMID: 2130180.
2. Tangpu V, Yadav TA. Some Important Folklore Medicinal Plants Used by Tangkhul Nagas of Ukhrul District, Manipur. TX, USA: Recent Progress in Medicinal Plants; 2006.
3. Kishore N, Mishra AK, Chansouria JP. Fungitoxicity of essential oils against dermatophytes. Mycoses. 1993 May-Jun;36(5-6):211-5. PubMed PMID: 8264720.
4. Abe S, Sato Y, Inoue S, Ishibashi H, Maruyama N, Takizawa T, Oshima H, Yamaguchi H. [Anti-Candida albicans activity of essential oils including Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil and its component, citral]. Nihon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi. 2003;44(4):285-91. Japanese. PubMed PMID: 14615795.
5. Mishra AK, Dubey NK. Evaluation of some essential oils for their toxicity against fungi causing deterioration of stored food commodities. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 Apr;60(4):1101-5. PubMed PMID: 8017906; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC201445.
6. Tchoumbougnang F, Zollo PH, Dagne E, Mekonnen Y. In vivo antimalarial activity of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus and Ocimum gratissimum on mice infected with Plasmodium berghei. Planta Med. 2005 Jan;71(1):20-3. PubMed PMID: 15678368.
7. Agbafor KN, Akubugwo EI. Hypocholesterolaemic effect of ethanolic extract of fresh leaves of Cymbopogon citratus (lemon grass) African J Biotechnol. 2007;6:596–8.
8. Adeneye AA, Agbaje EO. Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of fresh leaf aqueous extract of Cymbopogon citratus Stapf. in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Jul 25;112(3):440-4. Epub 2007 Apr 8. PubMed PMID: 17513076.
9. Suaeyun R, Kinouchi T, Arimochi H, Vinitketkumnuen U, Ohnishi Y. Inhibitory effects of lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus Stapf) on formation of azoxymethane-induced DNA adducts and aberrant crypt foci in the rat colon. Carcinogenesis. 1997 May;18(5):949-55. PubMed PMID: 9163680.
10. Puatanachokchai R, Kishida H, Denda A, Murata N, Konishi Y, Vinitketkumnuen U, Nakae D. Inhibitory effects of lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus, Stapf) extract on the early phase of hepatocarcinogenesis after initiation with diethylnitrosamine in male Fischer 344 rats. Cancer Lett. 2002 Sep 8;183(1):9-15. PubMed PMID: 12049809.
11. Dudai N, Weinstein Y, Krup M, Rabinski T, Ofir R. Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Med. 2005 May;71(5):484-8. PubMed PMID: 15931590.