20 Surprising Benefits of Lemongrass

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Lemongrass is a potent herb that helps treat insomnia, stomach and respiratory disorders, fever, and infections. The antioxidant activity of the lemongrass boosts the immune system and protects against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It even helps in balancing cholesterol levels, managing type 2 diabetes, and promoting healthy skin. It is extensively used in aromatherapy and helps combat fatigue, anxiety, and bad body odor.

Lemongrass – An Aromatic Healer

Lemongrass is an herb with a distinct citrusy flavor and aroma. Its scientific name is Cymbopogon citratus and it belongs to the grass family of Poaceae. It is a tall, perennial grass native to India and tropical regions of Asia with a rough and tufted plant with linear leaves that grow in thick bunches. They emerge from a strong base and stand about 3 meters high with a meter-wide stretch.

In addition to its culinary usage, this herb offers an array of medicinal benefits and is in extensive demand due to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties across Southeast Asia, Africa and America.

Lemongrass Types

The genus Cymbopogon comprises 55 species of grasses, two of which are referred to as lemongrass. These are Cymbopogon citratus, which is famously preferred for culinary use and Cymbopogon flexuosus, used in the manufacturing of fragrances because of its extended shelf life, owing to the low amount of myrcene in that variety.

Watch Video: 10 Benefits Of Lemongrass

10 Benefits Of Lemongrass For Skin And More | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Lemon grass (citronella), raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]70.58
Energy [kcal]99
Protein [g]1.82
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.49
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]25.31
Calcium, Ca [mg]65
Iron, Fe [mg]8.17
Magnesium, Mg [mg]60
Phosphorus, P [mg]101
Potassium, K [mg]723
Sodium, Na [mg]6
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.23
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]2.6
Thiamin [mg]0.07
Riboflavin [mg]0.14
Niacin [mg]1.1
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.08
Folate, DFE [µg]75
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]6
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.12
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.17
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Lemongrass Nutrition Facts

Lemongrass contains antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolic compounds such as luteolin, glycosides, quercetin, kaempferol, elemicin, catechol, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid. The main component of this fragrant herb is lemonal or citral, which has antifungal and anti-microbial qualities.

Lemongrass is an aromatic storehouse of essential nutrients providing an array of health benefits. The USDA National Nutrient Database shows that it is a source of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B-vitamins, folate, and vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and iron.

Health Benefits of Lemongrass

Let us look at some of the most well-known health benefits of lemongrass.

Helps 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.

Detoxifies 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 helps in the regulation of various organs of the body, including the liver and kidneys, while also helping to lower the levels of uric acid. The diuretic effect of the herb helps in increasing the quantity and frequency of urination, which helps in maintaining digestive health and detoxifying the body.

Anticancer Potential

Lemongrass may be effective in preventing the growth of cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells of the body. Research conducted to assess the anticancer activity of lemongrass has shown promising outcomes in the prevention of skin cancer. This is mainly because of the presence of a chemical compound called citral.

Research conducted on the effects of citral on cancer cells shows its efficacy in inhibiting the growth of hepatic cancer cells during the initial phase and prevents further growth of cancerous cells.

Another study provides supporting evidence regarding the anti-proliferative effect of citral in impeding the growth of human breast cancer cells and the induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Fights 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.

Stomach Disorders

Studies have shown that lemongrass essential oil has 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.

Relieves 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.

Respiratory Disorders

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

Reduces Fever

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

Helps 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.

Reduces Aches

Lemongrass may alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by headaches and migraines due to its analgesic properties. The phytonutrients present in it improve blood circulation and help in relieving spasms, muscle cramps, sprains, and backaches. It is also valuable in treating sports wounds, including dislocations, internal injuries, and bruises.

Lemongrass leaves on a wooden table

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 lemongrass may help maintain optimum levels of insulin and improve the tolerance of glucose in the body. However, more research needs to be conducted on a human population to truly understanding the effects.

Relieves Pain & Inflammation

Lemongrass is effective in relieving the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatism. It can be applied topically on both lumbago and sprains and helps in relieving neuralgia.

Boosts Immunity

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

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 helps 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.

Cellular Health

Lemongrass possesses antioxidant qualities and helps in protecting the body cells from oxygen-derived free radicals.

Antioxidant power can help with the regeneration of new cells and with the discarding of the old. The folate and potassium content in the stem and leaves of lemongrass aids in DNA synthesis and promotes cell division.

Relief from Edema

Lemongrass is effective in providing relief from the condition of water retention or edema. It has a cleansing effect on lymphatic congestion and helps soothe the swelling.

Aromatherapy

Lemongrass consists of beneficial essential oils and compounds such as neroli, citronellol, myrcene, dipentene, geraniol, and methyl heptenone. Lemongrass oil is extensively used in aromatherapy due to its therapeutic effects, which help in revitalizing the body.

The cooling effect of lemongrass oil is beneficial for the body during hot weather and promotes the revival of both the mind and soul. This oil possesses natural astringent and toning qualities that help stimulate blood circulation and tone up the dermal tissues.

It is used in therapeutic baths for calming the nerves and alleviating stress, fatigue, and anxiety.

Reduces Obesity

Lemongrass contains citral, which has been shown to be effective against obesity. It lessens the accumulation of abdominal fat and promotes the use of stored energy, which helps in preventing diet-induced weight gain. It aids in healthy metabolism and enhances the oxidation of fatty acids in the body.

Eliminates 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.

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 anti-malarial and anti-protozoan properties, which is why it is used in many mosquito repellents.

How to Use Lemongrass?

You can use lemongrass in many foods and beverages. There are two ways to cut it and each depends on the end-use of these stalks.

For Soups and Teas

Trim the hard stalks from the base and crush the rest to let the aromatic essential oils do their magic. Cut the stalks in about 1-inch pieces and add them to any soup or broth of your choice. The thing with lemongrass is that you are not supposed to eat it as the flavor is very woody. So, while you are enjoying your favorite broth or curry, remove the stalks aside before having your soup.

For Pastes and Salads

Trim the stalks by cutting off the base and the top and use the 3-4 inch middle portion. Lemongrass is just like tea, the more you cook, the more flavor it releases. Add it in advance for a rich lemony flavor or if you wish to have a milder taste, add it a the end so that your dish does not have one dominating flavor.

Apart from folk medicines, lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cuisines, especially those of Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. It is used for adding flavor to beverages such as teas, curries, and soups. It also found extensively in the preparation of pudding, meat products, candies, and baked goods.

Other Uses

It is used in the manufacturing of perfumes, deodorants, polishes, candles, and waxes. It is also used to add fragrance to soaps and cosmetic products.

It is used to lure and attract honey bees for various commercial purposes.

Hydrophobic Properties: Lemongrass is used for preserving ancient palm leaf manuscripts and protects them from the damage caused by microorganisms. It strengthens the leaves by providing the required moisture to the fragile palm leaves without letting the humidity cause any loss to the stored text. This protective effect can be attributed to the hydrophobic properties of lemongrass oil.

Pet Products: Lemongrass is used in the manufacturing of shampoos and grooming products for pets due to its repellent effects on lice and ticks.

Potential Side Effects

  • Although considered safe, the topical use of lemongrass oil or the ingestion of herbal tea can result in allergic reactions in some people.
  • Undiluted or concentrated lemongrass oil should not be applied directly to the body as it may result in harmful reactions. It is always advisable to keep the pure essential oil out of the reach of children.

Note: It is strongly recommended to consult a health professional before using lemongrass oil. This is especially true during pregnancy, when trying to conceive, breastfeeding, and during the course of any ongoing medical treatments and consultations.

Used cautiously, it can prove extremely valuable in providing a range of medicinal relief. So, add a refreshing and healthy aroma to your life with lemongrass!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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