You may think of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) only as an ingredient that adds a mild citrus and floral flavor to many Southeast Asian dishes. But this tropical grass has a lot of biochemical properties that make it not just good-tasting, but good for you, too.
Its health-promoting power comes from a long list of plant compounds, including terpenes, alcohols, ketones, aldehyde and esters, and flavonoids, which act as antioxidants in the body and are noted for their ability to prevent neurodegeneration, a key factor in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
These plant compounds are also what give lemongrass an antibiotic, antidiarrheal, antimicrobial, and antifungal effect. One study noted that when vaporized, lemongrass oil “works as an effective panacea against bacteria, flu and colds.”
Lemongrass has long been used for treating arthritis, fever, and anemia, and to help support healthy digestion. Some holistic physicians will use lemongrass in the management of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
When used in aromatherapy, it can promote mental clarity and spiritual resilience, making lemongrass a useful “mind-body herb.” Some even consider it a form of ‘rescue remedy’, and find it helpful when you are struggling to accomplish something but are weighed down by procrastination or lack of clarity.
Diffusing lemongrass oil or burning lemongrass incense or candles can bring you clarity of purpose and focus on a task while warding off interruption.
Of course, don’t forget to use it in your cooking, where it can add a vibrant lemon-like flavor and aroma. When you want to add pizazz to an entrée, use fresh or dried lemongrass in your broths, meat, poultry and seafood dishes and enjoy added health benefits.
And, when you need to invigorate and clarify your thinking, lemongrass has much to offer: Enjoy it as a tea, in an herbal salve or lotion, and as a tincture.