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Lemongrass, or lemon grass is a type of grass native to Asia and used both as a culinary herb and
to make a caffeine free herbal tea. Lemongrass widely used in Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Thai
cuisine, and is also frequently used as an ingredient in herbal teas and other blends.
Is it important that it smell like lemons?
Although unrelated to lemons, lemongrass has a distinctive aroma of lemons, due to the fact that it
shares a number of chemical constituents in its essential oil, including citral, citronellol, and
geraniol. A number of other herbs, also unrelated, have similar lemony aromas because they
share various concentrations of these same chemicals; these herbs include lemon balm, lemon
verbena, and lemon myrtle. Fascinatingly, many of these "lemony" chemicals are responsible for
the medicinal properties of these plants.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass:
A growing body of evidence points to antiviral and antifungal activity of lemongrass, as well as the
potential to prevent or treat cancer. However, most of these properties have only been established
only under the controlled conditions of in vitro (lab culture / test-tube / petri dish) experiments, and
it is not clear the degree to which these benefits would actually be available to people drinking
lemongrass tea.
Cancer treatment and prevention - There is some preliminary evidence that lemongrass could be
used to prevent or treat cancer. Citral was found in lab experiments to activate the cell death
program of cancer cells. Various anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic chemicals have been
isolated and identified from lemongrass, and there is some evidence of cancer-preventing
properties from studies on rats, but there is an absence of controlled human studies firmly
establishing any effects in humans.
Analgesic (pain-relieving) properties - There is some evidence that lemongrass has analgesic
properties, due to the presence of the chemical myrcene. This chemical is thought to act by a
different mechanism from aspirin-like painkillers. These benefits have been shown in animal
studies to be accessible through drinking lemongrass tea.
Antiviral properties - Lab experiments have shown that the essential oil of lemongrass has antiviral
properties, both against plant viruses and human viruses, including Herpes simplex virus 1
(HSV1), the virus which causes cold sores.
Antifungal properties - In vitro studies found lemongrass to have antifungal activity, particularly
against the Candida yeasts which often cause infections in humans.
Lemongrass has other uses in traditional medicine, but some of these other uses have not been
validated by science. An older study failed to find any evidence of anxiety-reducing (anxiolytic)
effects, even though lemongrass is used for this purpose in Brazil.
Other lemony herbs share a number of active ingredients with lemongrass. It is likely that the
health and medicinal properties of lemongrass overlap with these other plants to some degree.
Alex Zorach has an M.A. in statistics from Yale University, and is an avid tea drinker and the
founder and editor-in-chief of RateTea, the web's first online community where anyone can rate
and riew teas. RateTea also contains a wealth of information on all the major varieties of tea and
herbal teas, with well-referenced articles about their effects on mind and body. Read more about
lemongrass tea, including listings and reviews of different places to buy lemongrass, detailed
references to scientific articles, and more in-depth discussion of the health benefits of lemongrass.
Article Source:
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