Lemongrass or scientifically known as Cymbopogon is a native grass hailing from the lands of Asia and some parts of Africa and Australia. Lemongrass got its name due to the lemon like the aroma it emits most especially when its leaves are heated up or cooked.
In Asian countries, lemongrass is more often added as a spice to dishes and some beverages as a spice and not as the main ingredient itself. However, in African states, natives usually use lemongrass to make the tea “Togo”. While there are also some people that are reported to use lemongrass as a preservative for their food.
Lemongrass is known to be used as a medicine by adding it to dishes or by drinking it as a tea. Some believe that lemongrass has antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties that could considerably benefit the human race. That is why studies are conducted to lemongrass to check the reliability of these claims.
1. Lemongrass Has Been Proven To Have Antioxidant Properties
Lemongrass has been found to have tons of volatile oils, one of which is called citral. Citral is a compound believed to have antioxidative properties. The citral is the compound responsible for giving lemongrass its lemon-like and citrus smell. (1)
Lemongrass’ antioxidant properties are already exhibited in lemongrass’ ability to act as a food preservative. This is the reason why researchers speculated that maybe lemongrass’ ability to preserve maybe be applied to human beings.
Researchers have shown that lemongrass has the ability to reduce the oxidation of the body’s cells. It is believed that this phenomenon is caused by the presence of citral in the body of lemongrass. (2)
The citral in lemongrass has been shown to diffuse free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are molecules that damage cells around them if they are left untaken cared off.
Key Takeaway: The citral in lemongrass has powerful antioxidant properties that help diffuse and battle free radicals.
2. Lemongrass Is Believed To Have Antibacterial Properties
Lemongrass is often mistaken to have high levels of vitamin C due to its lemon-like aroma. However, on the contrary, it only contains minimal traces of vitamin C. Nevertheless, lemongrass has some antibacterial properties that are also displayed by other food sources high in vitamin C.
The antibacterial property of lemongrass has been researched by multiple institutions. One of which was a research done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has shown that lemongrass can eliminate various bacteria and microorganisms in a person’s body. (3)
Another study that was published in the “Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice” in 2012 has shown that lemongrass has components that can inhibit the growth of streptococcus bacteria. Streptococci are bacteria commonly present in the throat. (4)
Key Takeaway: Many researchers have already proven the antibacterial properties of lemongrass most especially in bacteria present in the throat.
3. Lemongrass Essential Oil Aromatherapy Can Help You Sleep Better
Insomnia or the inability to sleep easily is a psychological disorder that makes it hard for a person to fall asleep quickly. It can sometimes be temporary but more severe cases cause long-term and harmful effects.
Insomnia can sometimes be caused by unhealthy sleep habits, psychiatric conditions, medical conditions, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. If left untreated it can result in more severe psychological diseases such as depression and anxiety. (5)
The soothing and calming smell of lemongrass’ oil is a powerful weapon against anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. The sedating properties of lemongrass essential oil can help improve the quality and length of sleep. (6)
Key Takeaway: If you have trouble sleeping at night, research has shown that sleeping with the aroma of lemongrass oil may help you sleep longer and better.
4. Lemongrass Tea Can Be Used To Treat Sore Throat
A sore throat is an infection of the throat or pharynx that is characterized by irritation, pain, and itchiness and difficulty to swallow solid foods. It is often harmless in the long term. However, some bacteria that cause a sore throat may deviate from their original location into more sensitive parts of the body such as the brain and heart. (7)
One of the most common causes of a sore throat is when the staphylococci bacteria infect the pharynx. This type of a sore throat is commonly referred to as strep throat. Staphylococcus is a genus of gram-positive bacteria. One can be infected by other people that are infected by the bacteria.
Research have shown that lemongrass’ citral component, the one that it gives lemongrass its citrus aroma, have powerful antibacterial effects on the streptococci bacteria. This means that drinking lemongrass tea can easily cure and prevent the onset of strep throat. (8)
Key Takeaway: If you have a sore throat and suspect that it was caused by bacterial infection, most especially streptococci, drinking lemongrass tea is an effective and delicious treatment.
5. Lemongrass Is Packed With Iron To Fight Against Anemia
If your blood supply becomes lower than usual, you will end up with a disease called Anemia. According to the World Health Organization, about 24.8% of the total world population is infected with this disease. 47.4% of which are believed to belong to younger children and adolescents. (9)
Some of the causes that can lead to Anemia are blood loss, decrease in blood production or destruction of red blood cells. A low level of iron in the body can also be one reason to result to Anemia. Iron is one of the bodies “ingredients” to assemble a very important part of a red blood cell, which is the hemoglobin.
The hemoglobin is a protein that gives blood cells their red color. They are also the one responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our body. Brewing lemongrass tea can provide you high amounts of Iron. Drinking a cup of lemongrass tea can give you up to half of your daily needed iron for your body to function properly, and avoid anemia! (10)
Key Takeaway: Lemongrass is a generous source of iron. It can give you enough iron to prevent anemia due to the lack of iron from ever occurring!
6. Drinking Lemongrass Tea Can Reduce The Possibility Of Cancer
A study by the Ben Gurion University in Israel has found out that lemongrass tea has properties that can fight cancer. A molecule called citral present in lemongrass results to apoptosis in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. In layman terms, lemongrass extracts can cause cancer cells to commit suicide. (11)
This research was found to be so conclusive that cancer patients in Israel are now being recommended to intake lemongrass tea alongside their chemotherapy to eliminate cancer cells more efficiently. (12)
An independent research published in 2009 by the journal entitled Fundamentals of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence supporting the hypothesis that citral in lemongrass impedes the reproduction of breast cancer cells in test tube trials. (13)
Key Takeaway: Lemongrass extracts and tea can help slow down the reproduction of cells. This can help save lives if done alongside traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
7. Planting Lemongrass Around Your House Can Ward Off Mosquitos
Mosquitoes are parasitic insects that are hard to eliminate due to their rapid reproduction and speed. These tiny devils are considered by the World Health Organization as the most deadly animal in the world based on the number of humans dying due to their bites. (14)
According to the World Health Organization, mosquitoes have caused the deaths of at least 1 million individuals every year. This is because of the numerous diseases that they carry with them. When a mosquito bites you to suck your blood, some diseases that you may contract from them include dengue, malaria, West Nile fever, yellow fever and much more!
Lemongrass can help keep away these pesky disease bugs with the helpful compound present in lemongrass’ system called citronella. Citronella smells terrible to insects most especially mosquitoes. This is why mosquitoes avoid homes that are surrounded by lemongrass plants. (15)
Key Takeaway: Planting lemongrass around your home can repel insects most especially mosquitoes. This, in turn, prevents you from being infected by diseases carried by these insects.
8. Lemongrass Can Help Prevent The Cause Of Arthritis And Joint Pain
Unknown to many people, “arthritis” is actually a summary word group for various types of joint diseases. It is a way to refer to joint diseases or pain. Such collective word is necessary due to the fact that there are at least a hundred known types of joint disease.
Arthritis doesn’t choose between age, sex, or race. It does not care where you come from, if have bones you have an equal chance of getting it as does everyone else. Arthritis is considered as the most common cause of disability in the United States. (16)
The leading cause of arthritis is the autoimmune response of the body on the joints. This causes inflammation of the joints that result to wear and tears on them. Lemongrass has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent Arthritis and other joint diseases. (17)
Key Takeaway: Lemongrass has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent you from suffering the pain of Arthritis and other joint diseases.
9. The High Potassium Content Of Lemongrass Can Fight Against Stroke
Stroke is a potentially fatal disease that occurs when the blood being supplied to a segment of your brain is severely reduced or interrupted. This results in your brain being deprived of oxygen and nutrients. If not treated immediately, it can result in temporary or permanent loss of bodily functions, or worse death! (18)
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is considered as the most common cause of stroke among adults. Laboratory, epidemiologic, and experimental evidence suggest that taking a healthy dose of dietary potassium can result in a lowered blood pressure. (19)
Lemongrass is one of the few plants known to contain high amounts of potassium. This makes lemongrass a good way to prevent hypertension which may lead to stroke. Lemongrass plants can contain as much as 480 mg of potassium, which is already considerably high for such a common plant. (20)
Key Takeaway: Taking in lemongrasses in a form of tea or as a spice can lower your blood pressure which can help prevent stroke.
10. Lemongrass Contains High Manganese Content Which Can Reduce PMS
Premenstrual Syndrome is a vain among women who are still undergoing their monthly menstrual cycle. It is characterized by mood swings, irritability, lower abdominal pain, depression, nausea, and much more.
Some severe of premenstrual syndromes can even result to fainting and vomiting. Researchers have shown that women who experience the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome often have low levels of manganese. (21)
That is why a lot of doctors are recommending women who have PMS to consume foods or drink beverages that contain manganese. One such drink is in the form of lemongrass. Lemongrass has such high levels of manganese that you only need to make a tea out of 50 grams of it to provide 100% of your daily manganese needs. (22)
Key Takeaway: Drinking lemongrass tea is an effective way to get enough premenstrual syndrome fighting manganese into your system. Get rid of those pesky mood swings and muscle cramps with a cup of Lemongrass tea!
11. Lemongrass Can Reduce Cholesterol In The Body
The anti-atherosclerosis and anti-cholesterol properties of lemongrasses help decrease the buildup of bad cholesterols in our bodies. Lemongrass also assists in the breaking down of LDL-cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol, in the blood.
Low-Density Lipoproteins are responsible for the buildup of fatty tissues in our blood vessels. This buildup can cause serious damage or diseases in the long run. These diseases include stroke, heart attack, obesity and much more. (23)
A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin in the year 1989 revealed that people with high cholesterol levels in their body who were administered 140 milligrams of lemongrass oil in the form of capsules had their cholesterol levels lowered.
Key Takeaway: Drinking lemongrass tea can result in your body’s cholesterol levels to decrease. This is very beneficial to people who are prone to diseases due to high cholesterol in their body.
12. The Antiseptic Compounds Of Lemongrass Promote Healthy Digestion
The antiseptic compounds present in lemongrass do an excellent job at killing parasites and bad bacteria. These are found in abundance inside our digestive tract. And to make things even better, the compounds also promote the development of good bacteria.
Such characteristics of lemongrass treat many health problems related to digestion. These include constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, cramps, heartburn, etc.
You will also be glad to know that lemongrass has high antimicrobial properties too. And we all know what they do, don’t we? Antimicrobial properties help in relieving gastroenteritis. (24)
Key Takeaway: Consuming lemongrass in the form of tea on a daily basis keeps the digestive tract in good condition. The green vegetable’s antiseptic compounds not only kill bad bacteria but also repopulate the healthy bacteria.
13. Lemongrass Has A Diuretic Nature That Detoxifies And Cleanses The Body
The thing about drinking herbal tea is that it helps in cleansing and detoxification. And lemongrass tea is no different. Its valuable diuretic nature is responsible for removing bad cholesterol, uric acid, and toxins from the body. And this it does by producing more urine. That also means keeping the kidneys in good condition. (25)
And it doesn’t just end here. The cleansing properties also purify the pancreas, bladder, kidneys, and liver. They go as far as improving the blood circulation of the body as well.
Key Takeaway: Regular intake of lemongrass tea encourages the body and its organs to push out harmful elements. The cleansing nature of lemongrass helps eliminate toxins, which keeps the internal system and blood circulation healthy.
14. The Galactogogue Content Of Lemongrass Increases The Production Of Breast Milk
Lemongrass is a vegetable that pregnant women should avoid. But you can consume it after delivery. And do you know why? It’s because lemongrass contains galactogogue properties.
What these do is help in increasing the production of breastmilk. This is beneficial for mothers who are in the breastfeeding phase. (26)
In fact, lemongrass doesn’t only contribute to the mother but also the baby’s health. Since it has an antibacterial and antimicrobial nature, it keeps the baby healthy and away from possible infections.
Key Takeaway: A cup or two of lemongrass tea on a daily basis for lactating mothers increases their production of breast milk. While the germ-fighting properties present in lemongrass keep the baby in good condition and infection-free.
15. Lemongrass Herb Helps In Fighting Depression
Lemongrass has a high content of antidepressant properties. And these are responsible for activating the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is that chemical in our brain which aids in combating depression. This also leads to boosting self esteem, improving mental strength, and relieving anxiety.
The essential oil and organic compounds of lemongrass produce antidepressant effects in the brain. And these effects have a huge impact on the behavioural aspects associated with depression. (27)
Key Takeaway: When you don’t seem to be in a good mood, drinking some lemongrass tea can change that. It keeps you cool and calm while also encouraging the release of depression fighting chemicals.
7 Delicious Recipes With Lemongrass
Lemongrass is amazing when it comes to the health benefits that they can provide to our bodies. However, lemongrass’ success doesn’t stop there. Lemongrass is a very well-known ingredient in a lot of dishes around the world. May it be grilling, frying, or tea, lemongrass is sure to increase the flavor and aroma of whatever that is you are preparing.
Lemongrass is a tropical type of grass that has a sweet, and lemony scent, thus the name lemongrass. It is specifically famous in Thai and Asian dishes and drinks. Most of its flavor are stored in the thicker bulb end, this can be added or peeled, whole to dishes, crushed or chopped.
There is no better way to get the overflowing nutrients in lemongrass than to cook and eat dishes made with it. Here are 7 delicious recipes with lemongrass that would surely make you go “yum!”
1. Mussel Broth With Lemongrass
This tasty and savory dish will surely tickle the right spots in your stomach!
1.5 kilograms of mussels
A dash olive oil
4 pieces of shallots, sliced into 1cm/½in dice
1 piece of garlic clove, finely grated
10 grams of pickled ginger, finely chopped
10 grams of fresh root ginger
2 pieces of red chilies, sliced
3 pieces of kaffir lime leaves
15 grams of palm sugar
1 stick of lemongrass, chopped
1 liter of fish stock, cook until reduced half
400 milliliters coconut milk
1 piece of lime, zest, and juice
1 piece of loaf bread
10 grams of basil leaves torn
10 grams of coriander leaves
Rinse the mussels with clean and cold running water.
Clean of the barnacles and whiskers attached to it.
Fry the mussels in a frying pan with olive oil. Add the garlic, the pickled and fresh gingers, kaffir lime leaves, sliced chilies, lemongrass and palm sugar. Add a little water and cook for about 8 minutes.
After that pour in the fish stock and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
Include the coconut milk and let simmer for another 7 minutes. Taste test the broth, adjust the seasoning with lime and soy sauce. Let it cool.
Heat a wok over medium heat. Throw in the fried mussels, cook the mussels in low heat until they all open. Pour in the broth.
Slice the loaf bread into slices and oil it all over with some olive oil. Chargrill the bread using a griddle pan.
Garnish with freshly chopped basil, lime zest, and coriander the broth.
Serve in bowls with the grilled bread.
2. Pistou Soup With Lemongrass
‘Pistou’ is a type of the Italian pesto, but infused with Vietnamese flavors. Enjoy these dish’s unique combinations of flavor and nutrition!
For the Vietnamese pistou
20 grams of Vietnamese basil, chopped
A stalk of lemongrass, chopped
5 pieces of small red chili, seeds removed
5 tablespoons of sunflower oil
For the soup
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bulbs of onions, diced
4 pieces of garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs thyme
3 pieces of bay leaves
4 tablespoons of tomato purée
2 pieces of carrots, diced
2 courgettes, diced
200 grams of beans, cut into small pieces
2 liters of boiling water
100g grams of dried pasta
400 grams of white beans, drained and rinsed
200 grams of fresh peas
1 tablespoon of salt
A pinch sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
To make the pistou, using a mortar and pestle, crush the ingredients to a smooth paste.
To make the soup, using a large pot sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil. Stir occasionally, until they become translucent.
Throw in the bay leaves, thyme, carrots, tomato purée, and courgettes. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Include the green beans into the boiling water and then add the pasta. Cook for 10 more minutes.
Throw in the peas and white beans. Strain off the thyme and the bay leaves.
Add the sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.
Combine the soup and pistou.
Serve while hot!
3. Lemongrass And Ginger Mussels
Experience a different twist on your favorite mussels with this mouth-watering recipe!
50 grams of unsalted butter
2 pieces of shallots, chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
10 centimeters of fresh root ginger, chopped
2 red chilies, sliced
200 milliliters of white wine
330 milliliters of coconut water
160 milliliters of coconut cream
2 kilograms of mussels, rinsed, scrubbed, and beards removed
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 sliced loaf bread
2 tablespoon of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Over a medium heat melt the butter in a large pan. Add lemongrass, shallots, ginger, garlic, and chilies and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to a higher temperature, and then pour in the coconut water, wine, and cream and bring to a boil.
Throw in the cleaned mussels and cover with the lid. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush some olive oil on the bread slices, then grill them using a griddled pan.
When the mussels are cooked, add in the coriander leaves, then season with salt and ground black pepper.
When serving, scoop the mussels, and the liquor, into bowls.
Serve hot alongside the bread.
4. Monkfish Curry With Lemongrass And Lime Leaf
Curry is one of the most beloved spices throughout Asia. Combined with lemongrass nothing can just compare to it!
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
6 Thai shallots, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed with a little salt
40 grams of ginger, grated
4 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
6 lime leaves, shredded
3 green chilies, chopped
600 milliliters of coconut milk
4 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander
600 grams of monkfish tails, cut into large chunks
200 grams of water chestnuts, drained
2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
1 lime juice
4 tablespoons of Thai basil leaves for garnishing
Heat the oil in a large wok until smoking and stir-fry the garlic, shallots, ginger, lime leaves, lemongrass, and green chilies for 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook further for 4 more minutes, or until the amount of the liquid has been reduced.
Throw in the monkfish, coriander, and water chestnuts and cook for 3-4 more minutes, or until the fish is cooked inside. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce.
Garnish the monkfish curry and enjoy!
5. Thai Lemongrass And Chili Vegetable Soup
Vegetable soups are already nutritious on their own, but with lemongrass, this soup’s healing power is top of the line!
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
½ bulb of onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, with skin, crushed
2 teaspoons of fresh root ginger, grated
1 sea bass, head, and tail only
1 stalk of lemongrass, crushed
400 milliliters of boiling water
3 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
½ teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
100 milliliters fresh coconut milk
85 grams of tender stem of broccoli, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coconut, grated
1 red chili pepper, chopped
½ lime juice
Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion, garlic, and ginger for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the fish head and tail and lemongrass, stirring to coat in the oil, then pour over the boiling water and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean pan, then add the ketchup, Tabasco sauce, and coconut milk and simmer for a further 2-3 minute. Add the broccoli, grated coconut, chili and lime juice and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
6. Grilled Lemongrass Beef
This dish is perfect for parties and campouts. With the beef’s savory taste and lemongrass’ unique taste, you’ll feel like you’re eating in a 5 star restaurant!
2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 shallots, chopped
1 piece of chili, chopped
2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil
For Beef fillet
450g of beef fillet
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
For dipping sauce
100 mL of lime juice
2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 chili, chopped
1 piece of carrot, grated
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large clean bowl.
Wrap the beef tightly with cling wrap and form a round roll and let it cool in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Remove the beef from the fridge when 'fixed' in a roll.
Uncling the beef fillet and cut into 6mm thick discs. Put the beef discs into the marinade and let them marinate for 45 minutes.
Stab the beef fillet disks with cocktail sticks and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Using a griddle pan, griddle the beef disks until the sesame seeds turn brown or for about 3-4 minutes.
Formulate the dipping sauce by simply combining all its ingredients, stir thoroughly.
Place the beef disks into a plate and drizzle with the dipping sauce.
7. Thai Roast Chicken
This dish is already famous throughout Asia, try this dish and experience the wonders of lemongrass.
2 stalks of lemongrass
50 grams of ginger, peeled
3 pieces of spring onions
2 pieces of medium red chilies
2 pieces of medium yellow chilies
1 pieces of medium green chili
1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
200 milliliters groundnut oil
1 whole chicken
Preheat the oven up to 350°F.
Except for the chicken, combine all other ingredients and blend using a food processor. Make sure that it becomes a smooth paste.
Rub the spice mix gently on the chicken.
Wrap the chicken with tin foil and roast for 70-80 minutes in the oven,
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes without removing the tin foil.
Wrapping It Up
Lemongrass is, most of the time, only known for the amazing smell and taste they add to any dish they are included in. Lemongrass gives off a citrus lemon like aroma that people can’t get enough of. Whether it be in soups, grilled dishes, fried dishes, or teas, these humble grasses are the MVP of any cuisine.
Other than what they are famous for, lemongrass deserves recognition for something even much bigger. Lemongrass’ health benefits are without a doubt and literally lifesaving.
Who would’ve guessed that every time that we took a bite of those lemongrass spiced dishes our mothers used to cook we are already getting the nutritious components stored in its many leaves. With that said, lemongrass deserves every recognition that it was ever given and will be ever given!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.