In the 18th and and 19th century, lemon grass was a popular remedy for a variety of ailments for the Spanish and Mexican immigrants to the western United States. No garden was without this lemony herb that was used to make many natural remedies including medicinal teas. With the advent of new chemical food processes and pharmaceuticals, lemon grass slowly fell out of favor and gardens were replaced with concrete or grass.
With today’s focus on greener technologies and natural remedies, lemon grass is making a comeback in container herb gardens and even suburban flower beds. You can also find lemon grass in the ethnic section of food stores and even organic markets. While there is no scientific evidence, many Latin American cultures swear by folk medicine that uses lemon grass. Latin influences claim that lemon grass soothes nervous conditions, promotes better digestion and even lowers blood pressure.
What is known is that certain species of lemon grass such as those that originated in Central America, Java and even Malaysia (but can be grown in the U.S.) contain retinol, a form of vitamin A often used in skin care products. People who drink lemon grass tea or even use it as a facial rinse will gain clear skin. It is full of antioxidants which help fight free radicals in the body and slow down the aging process.
A Few Lemon Grass Facts
Lemon grass is a perennial plant also known as citronella. It is easily identified by its stalky base and bushy leaves. It has a slight lemony scent and can be used in cooking. You can use fresh or dried leaves to create a beneficial tea. While Latin cultures used lemon grass as a natural remedy, this herb has also been a mainstay in traditional Asian cooking as well. You can also find lemon grass essential oil or capsules, both used in natural remedies.
Creating a tea from lemon grass is perhaps the best way to benefit the most from its medicinal antioxidant properties. You can cut up fresh leaves and allow them to steep in boiling water or you can dry the leaves (or buy them prepared) before making the tea. This lemon grass tea is best when sweetened by honey, a natural sweetener full of antioxidants or even agave nectar. Both chilled and warm versions of the tea are equally beneficial.
While the government is still quite behind in testing herbal remedies for effectiveness, it is believed that lemon grass tea can:
• Reduce cholesterol and fat stores in the body • Lower risk of certain types of cancer • Detoxify body organs such as liver and pancreas • Alleviate digestion issues including indigestion, flatulence and colic • Lower blood pressure and boost blood circulation • Relieve joint and muscle pain • Reduce headaches and fevers • Boost your immune system • Act as a natural insect repellant • Produce a sedative-like effect within the central nervous system • Create anti-inflammatory properties to protect muscles, joints and connective tissues • Reduce infection caused by fungus and bacteria • Protect the cornea of the eye
Lemon grass tea has natural restorative effects on your health. While cooking with lemon grass offers some beneficial qualities, it is in tea form when this herb truly shines in the field of alternative medicine.