Lemongrass

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Posted by admin | Posted in Lemongrass | Posted on 24-09-2010

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Lemongrass is so much more than just something used to flavor tea. Cymbopogon citrates is of the Poaceae family. It is tall grass growing in dense clumps with a height of 4 feet and a width up to 2 feet. There are seldom flowers. It is strongly lemon-scented when broken with a hint of rose fragrance.

Cultivation: A tender perennial, to Zone 10. When growing space 1 foot apart. Soil temperature is best at 70F to 75F. The soil should be well drained, dry, even poor. Excessive watering lowers the oil content. The pH is best at 4.3 to 8.4. Full sun is preferred.. Propagate from root divisions of clumps. Often the fresh lemon grass sold in some produce markets for Indonesian cooking has roots attached and can be grown. In cold climates, the roots can be dug up and brought in to overwinter.

Constituents: essential oil includes citral (65-85%), dipentene, methylheptenone, linalol, geraniol, geraniol, linalool, geranyl acetate, farnesol, nerol, citronellol, myrcene (12-25%)

History: Reports that lemon grass was being distilled for export as early as the 17th century in the Philippines. The first samples of the closely related citronella oil were displayed at the World’s Fair at London’s Crystal Palace in 1951. It is a favorite oil in India for hundreds of years and known locally as ‘choomana poolu’ which refers to the plant’s red grass stems.

Medicinal Uses: In East India and Sri Lanka, where it is called “fever tea,” lemon grass leaves are combined with other herbs to treat fevers, irregular menstruation, diarrhea, and stomachaches. Lemon grass is one of the most popular herbs in Brazil and the Caribbean for nervous and digestive problems.

The Chinese use lemon grass in a similar fashion, to treat headaches, stomachaches, colds, and rheumatic pains. The essential oil is used straight in India to treat ringworm or in a paste with buttermilk to rub on ringworm and bruises. Studies show it does destroy many types of bacteria and fungi and is a deodorant. It may reduce blood pressure – a traditional Cuban use of the herb – and it contains five different constituents that inhibit blood coagulation.

Traditional Uses: Take as a tea for fevers, coughs, colds, and as a pleasant tonic or beverage. Promotes perspiration and excretion of phlegm, and eases stomach cramps. Especially useful for children and infants. For adult fevers, boil 1 mashed root and 10 leaves in 3e cups of water for 10 minutes; drink very hot; go to bed and wrap up warmly. For childhood fevers, boil 10 leaves in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes; give child ½ cup 6 times daily and keep child warm. Soak mashed root in oil and rub on backache, muscle spasms and over forehead to relieve headaches.

Recipes:
Headache Pillow
1 cup dried lemongrass; 1/2 cup dried lavender; 1/4 cup dried marjoram; 1 tsp crushed cloves. Combine all the ingredients, put into a small muslin bag, and slip between the pillow and the pillowcase.

Safe Delivery Tonic
2 Tbsp lotus seeds; 2 Tbsp skullcap leaves and flowers; 1 Tbsp rose petals; 1 Tbsp lemongrass
Simmer lotus seeds in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add skullcap leaves and flowers, rose petals, and lemon grass. Steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and drink half a cup daily or as needed.

Nausea and Morning Sickness Tonic
1 Tbsp lemongrass
1/4 inch fresh or 1/8 tsp powdered ginger root
1 tsp chamomile flowers
Steep the above herbs for 15 minutes in 2 cups of boiled water. Strain and sip half a cup daily.

Aromatherapy:
EXTRACTION: essential oil by steam distillation from the fresh and partially dried leaves, finely chopped
CHARACTERISTICS: A yellow, amber or reddish-brown liquid with a fresh, grassy-citrus scent and an earthy undertone. A yellow or amber liquid with a fresh, grassy-lemony scent, generally lighter than the West Indian type. Taste: pungent, bitter; Energy: cooling/moisturizing; Dosha effect: P K-, Vo; Note: top
ACTIONS: analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, deodorant, febrifuge, fungicidal, galactagogue, insecticidal, nervine, sedative (nervous), tonic
MIXES WELL WITH: bergamot, rosemary, lavender, juniper, hyssop, pine, rosewood, basil, cedarwood, coriander, geranium, jasmine, neroli, niaouli, palmarosa, rosemary, tea tree, yarrow
USES:
Skin: acne, athlete’s foot, excessive perspiration, insect repellent, open pores, pediculosis, scabies, tissue toner
Circulation, Muscles and Joints: muscular pain, poor circulation and muscle tone, slack tissue
Digestive System: colitis, indigestion, gastro-enteritis
Immune System: fevers, infectious disease
Nervous System: headaches, nervous exhaustion and stress-related conditions
BLENDS:
Respiratory: 5 drops lemongrass; 4 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops sandalwood
Muscular: 5 drops lemongrass, 4 drops rosemary, 3 drops coriander
Emotion: 4 drops lemongrass, 4 drops orange, 2 drops basil
Lemon Grass, Coriander and Clove Bath:
2 Tbsp almond oil, 2 drops lemon grass oil, 2 drops coriander oil, 2 drops clove oil. Carefully measure the almond oil into a small dish. Slowly drop in all the essential oils. Mix all the ingredients and pour into the bath while the water is running. Rinse the dish under the running tap to make sure all the oils have gone into the bath water. For stiff limbs after excessive exercise.

Lemongrass is an aid for people who have trouble getting started in the morning. It is not only psychologically refreshing, but it also serves as a tonic for tightening weak connective tissue. The essential oil strengthens blood vessels and helps prevent varicose veins. It is beneficial for the treatment of sports injuries, like bruises and pulled ligaments. It may be used in an arnica tissue, diluted with water and applied as a cold compress or bandage.

Lemon grass produces one of the 10 – largest – selling essential oils in the world, with over 1500 tons produced annually. It is used as the natural starting point to produce the fragrance component citral. In East India, the oil is mixed with coconut oil to rub on lumbago, rheumatism, and painful nerve conditions. In the Caribbean, lemon grass baths ease soreness.

Other uses: Lemon grass is a fly, flea and mosquito repellent. It is used as the starting point in the manufacture of vitamin A. Lemon grass adds a citrus fragrance to potpourri.

Toxicity: Prolonged handling of lemongrass may cause contact dermatitis (itching, burning, stinging, reddened or blistered skin) People who handle the plant and then expose their skin to sunlight may end up with a severe sunburn on the exposed surfaces.

Ritual Uses: Lemongrass is bound to Mercury and air. It is said to repel dragons and serpents, and is burned, bathed in, or carried on the person for lust, fidelity, honesty, growth, strength, psychic powers, and purification. Plant Lemongrass around the home to repel serpent energy. Drink a tea to aid in psychic abilities and divination. Carry it in a sachet or charm to attract the object of your desire and to bring honesty to your relationships. Burn as an incense for strength and purification. Put a handful of leaves in a mesh bag and place under the tap water for a purification bath, and to attract and keep a lover.

Culinary Uses: An integral flavor in Sri Lanka and Thai cooking, lemon grass is also found in East Indian dishes and makes a very popular beverage in tropical countries. The unique refreshing tartness of lemongrass adds a peppery lemon flavor to soups, and outer long-simmered dishes. It adds mystery to stuffings and rubs. It commercially flavors dairy, desserts, candy, and baked goods. Tastes good with and in curries, soups, stews, and casseroles, particularly those made with chicken and seafood. Tips in cooking, use fresh stalk – whole or chopped. Bruise stem to release flavor. Soak the stalks in oil or milk for 2-3 hours to soften them. Use only lower 4-6 in (10-15 cm), discarding upper fibrous part. Soak dried stalks in hot water before use. When substituting, 1 teaspoon ground is roughly equivalent to one stalk. Stalks will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Fresh lemongrass can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for several months. It works well with garlic, fresh coriander, coconut milk, and hot flavors.

Recipes:
Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup:

5 cups (1.2 liters) chicken stock
4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 small fresh hot green chili, seeded and chopped
3 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces
1 tbsp nam pla (Asian fish sauce)
salt
1 in piece lime or lemon peel
2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 pound (500 g) shrimp
Chopped scallions and cilantro or garnish
In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients, except the shrimp. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Strain and discard the solids return the liquid to the saucepan, add the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp are just heated through, 1-2 minutes. Pour into a soup tureen, garnish with the chopped scallions and cilantro, and serve.

Lemongrass Curry
Makes 4 cups
1/3 cup sliced lemongrass, include the bulbs
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried ground galangal (or ginger)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed
3 shallots, peeled
3½ cups Coconut Milk
3 fresh lime or lemon leaves
Pinch salt or shrimp paste (available in Asian markets)
In a food processor or blender, puree together the lemongrass, garlic, galangal, turmeric, jalapeno and shallots. Bring the Coconut Milk to a boil and add the pureed ingredients, lime or lemon leaves, and salt or shrimp paste, and boil gently, stirring constantly for approximately 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for an additional 30 minutes or until the lime or lemon leaves are tender and the sauce is creamy. Remove the leaves before serving. (A World of Curries, Dave Dewitt & Arthur Pais)

Lemon Grass Ice Milk
2 cups milk
2 8-oz cans lowfat evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
6 8-inch pieces lemon grass stems
2 eggs
Wash lemon grass stems and slice into thin pieces. Combine with milk and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it just barely boils, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Whisk together eggs and lowfat evaporated milk. Combine with other ingredients in saucepan. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened, 6-8 minutes. Strain into a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Prepare in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions (An Herbal Collection)

References:
Aromatherapy Blends & Remedies, Franzesca Watson, Harper Collins, 1995
Complete Aromatherapy Handbook, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Sterling, 1990
The Illustrated Encylopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1995
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991
Mother Nature’s Herbal, Judy Griffin, Llewellyn, 1997
Rainforest Remedies, Rosita Arvigo and Michael Balick, Lotus Press, 1993; ISBN: 0-914955-13-6

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: herbworld@aol.com URL: http://www.herbalpedia.com Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented.

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  • Nice, informative, health and interesting post. Who would believe that Lemon grass has many benefits on our health. I always think of it as an ingredient on some dishes i knew. thanks for informing us. quite a helpful one.

  • These are lovely and magical home remedies but yes lemon grass does cure headaches for a lot of people.The aroma and the ingredient helps sooth the head.