Lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus), like its name sake is a tall grass, of tropical origin. It comes from the same family as citronella (cymbopogon nardus). It grows in dense clumps with a bulbous bottom with long stem and leaves at the top end. It multiplies easily by dividing its root clumps. It is a perennial plant.
Lemongrass has a fresh lemony aroma with hints of ginger. The source of its essential oil is the freshly cut and partially dried leaves obtained through steam distillation.
When the essential oil is burned, the aroma imparts an inviting, clear, clean and simple-back-to-basic atmosphere. It revives the mind and relaxes the body. It is frequently used as an anti depressant, a diuretic, an overall tonic, a stimulant, to induce perspiration therefore, cooling the body, a mild insect repellent, a deodorant, a sedative, for indigestion and for exhaustion. Lemongrass essential oil is common as an additive to soaps and cosmetics. However, it may cause skin sensitivity in some individuals who have allergies. It also repels negative energy for those who are spiritually inclined.
South American folk medicine makes use of the plant as an anti spasmodic, analgesic, antiseptic cure. The Chinese treat abdominal pains, stomach aches, headaches with it while in India they boil the fresh or dried leaves to treat rheumatic pains.
An interesting study made sometime ago claimed that lemongrass can help to cut down on cholesterol. After three months, some participants had noticed that their cholesterol was down a few points. But when they stopped taking lemongrass their cholesterol returned to previous levels. The remaining group did not register any change. Exactly how much lemongrass to take had not been established with any certainty. It is best to seek expert advice when it comes to health matters.
As there is little evidence to support its oral dosage, the medicinal usage of lemongrass is therefore, considered a placebo. Personally I love the taste of lemongrass tea taken either hot or cold. The taste is not as tart as lemon juice but is just as effective after a large meal.
I like to mix lemongrass tea with ginger juice. It offers a twang of spiciness that I thoroughly enjoy. Just put in two or three thinly cut ginger pieces into a glass of lemongrass tea and pour boiling water. Wait a few minutes and enjoy. Do not put too many ginger slices in or you’ll feel like sandpaper being washed down your throat.
Cooking with lemongrass is very popular especially in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. Endless recipes can be found in Sri Lankan, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian meals. Like many other herbs and plants, lemongrass use is as varied as the imagination can soar. But care should be taken especially with its use in aromatherapy. Do not ingest the essential oil.
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