Lemongrass: Are There Health Benefits?

Lemongrass is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia and a common ingredient in Thai cuisine. Now grown in Africa, Australia, and North and South America, lemongrass is widely used as a natural remedy for digestive issues, neurological problems, and high blood pressure.

Lemongrass reportedly has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has traditionally been used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Lemongrass contains citral, a natural plant compound with anti-inflammatory effects.

Lemongrass extract is also used to provide the fresh scent in many soaps, candles, disinfectants, and insect repellants.

The best way to enjoy lemongrass is in tea, either commercially prepared or made from fresh lemongrass stalks. You can find fresh lemongrass stalks in Asian grocery stores.

Nutrition Information

One ounce of lemongrass contains: 

  • Calories: 30
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Lemongrass also contains iron, calcium, and vitamin C. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, a vital substance that transfers oxygen from your lungs to your blood.

Potential Health Benefits of Lemongrass

Research has found several potential health benefits of lemongrass. Lemongrass is a rich source of flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which contain antioxidants. It’s also an effective antibacterial and antifungal agent that contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Lemongrass contains quercetin, a flavonoid known for having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Quercetin reduces inflammation, which inhibits cancer cell growth and prevents heart disease.

Reduced Cholesterol

Lemongrass is used in Africa as a treatment for coronary heart disease. One study conducted a seven-day treatment of lemongrass extract on rats, which resulted in elevated cholesterol levels decreasing significantly.

Topical Antifungal

Lemongrass essential oil has shown antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically. Researchers tested the topical application of lemongrass oil on fungal infections and inflammatory skin conditions in mice. Although it showed promise as an effective treatment for skin conditions, more research needs to be conducted. 

E. Coli Infection

E. coli bacterial infections can cause food poisoning if you eat contaminated foods. It can also cause urinary tract infections and pneumonia. One study found that lemongrass extract effectively reduces the toxicity of E. coli cultures and can help treat bacterial infections in the digestive tract.

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Potential Risks of Lemongrass

Because lemongrass has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Consider the following risks before consuming lemongrass or lemongrass tea:

Skin Irritant

Lemongrass oil can irritate the skin when applied topically. If you experience an allergic reaction after applying the oil to your skin, you may also want to avoid consuming lemongrass orally.

Pregnancy Concerns

Some sources claim that pregnant women should avoid lemongrass. While evidence that lemongrass can trigger menstrual flow is lacking, there is some concern that lemongrass could cause a miscarriage. More research is necessary to determine whether or not lemongrass is safe to consume during pregnancy. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 06, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

African Journal of Biotechnology: “Hypocholesterolaemic effect of ethanolic extract of fresh leaves of Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass).”

Handbook of Herbs and Spices: “Lemongrass.”

Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research: “Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass).”

Journal of Ethnopharmacology: “Pharmacology of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus Stapf). II. Effects of daily two month administration in male and female rats and in offspring exposed ‘in utero’.”

Lybian Journal of Medicine: “Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs.”

Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids: “Citral, a component of lemongrass oil, activates PPARα and γ and suppresses COX-2 expression.”

Mutation Research: “Effect of the Cymbopogon citratus, Maytenus ilicifolia and Baccharis genistelloides extracts against the stannous chloride oxidative damage in Escherichia coli.”

My Fitness Pal: “Lemongrass.”

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