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17 Interesting Facts About Lemongrass

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Introduction

Lemongrass is an aromatic tropical plant that is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Its fresh, lemony aroma and flavor brighten up dishes from curries to teas. While lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cuisine, its popularity has spread around the world.

Beyond adding flavor, lemongrass has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Modern research is uncovering exciting potential health benefits ranging from cancer prevention to cholesterol reduction.

Here are 17 fascinating facts about this zesty grass:

Facts About Lemongrass

Interesting Facts About Lemongrass
  1. Lemongrass is used in many types of cuisine. Lemongrass brings its fresh citrus flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. It’s commonly used in Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. Popular dishes include curries, soups, teas, and seafood.
  2. It’s also used to make tea. Lemongrass tea is popular in many parts of the world. It’s often served hot, iced, or at room temperature. The tea has a refreshing lemony taste and aroma. Some people drink it for its potential health benefits.
  3. The plant has many names. Lemongrass goes by many other names including barbed wire grass, silky heads, coat buttons, fever grass, tanglad, takrai, xiang mao, sereh, and bhustrina.
  4. There are 55 known species. While 55 species of lemongrass exist, only two are used for culinary and medicinal purposes – Cymbopogon citratus (West Indian lemongrass) and Cymbopogon flexuosus (East Indian lemongrass).
  5. It grows in tropical climates. Lemongrass thrives in hot, humid tropical areas and cannot withstand freezing temperatures. It grows well in Florida and Gulf Coast regions. Much of the world’s lemongrass is grown in Guatemala, India, China, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries.
  6. The stems are used for flavor. The flavor and aroma come from compounds in the lemongrass stems and leaves, not the roots or flowers. The bottom 6 inches of the stalks are trimmed and bruised to release the flavors before being added to dishes.
  7. It was first described in 1658. Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals gave the first botanical description of lemongrass in his book Handboek der landbouwkundige plantenteelt in Nederlandsch Oost-Indië, written in 1658.
  8. Lemongrass oil has many therapeutic uses. Lemongrass essential oil has antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has many therapeutic applications – from skin toning to relieving muscle pain. The oil is also used in aromatherapy to reduce stress.
  9. It may help lower cholesterol. A 2015 study found that people who took a daily lemongrass supplement for 30 days experienced a significant reduction in cholesterol levels. More research is needed to confirm the results.
  10. The herb may aid digestion. In folk medicine, lemongrass has been used to aid digestion. A small study indicates the tea may help relieve nausea. The herb also has demonstrated antibacterial effects that could benefit gut health.
  11. It contains many nutrients. Lemongrass contains vitamins A, B-vitamins such as folate, and vitamin C. It also provides minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, calcium and manganese.
  12. Lemongrass stalks are chewed for oral health. In parts of the world where lemongrass grows, people will chew on the stalks to help clean their mouths and promote healthy gums. Research indicates the herb’s antimicrobial properties benefit oral hygiene.
  13. The flavor fades quickly. The delicate, lemony flavor of fresh lemongrass fades quickly. Lemongrass stalks should be used within a week of harvest. Dried lemongrass may be used for teas, but much of signature taste will have decreased.
  14. It can be grown at home. Those living in tropical or subtropical climates can grow lemongrass in their gardens. It grows easily from stalk cuttings placed in well-drained soil. Container gardening also works well.
  15. Lemongrass repels some insects. As an herb and essential oil, lemongrass contains compounds that repel some insects like mosquitos. In some cultures, it is common to rub the leaves on the skin to ward off insects.
  16. The oil makes a refreshing room spray. Lemongrass oil’s fresh citrus scent makes it a pleasing natural air freshener. Add some oil to water in a spray bottle to lightly scent a room.
  17. Lemongrass research is expanding. Scientists continue to uncover exciting potential health benefits of lemongrass. Ongoing research indicates the herb may help combat cancer, prevent infections, reduce inflammation, and more.

FAQ about Lemongrass (Cymbopogon)

What is lemongrass?

Lemongrass, scientifically known as Cymbopogon, is a genus of plants in the grass family found in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia, and tropical islands. It includes species commonly cultivated for their lemon-scented foliage, used in cooking and herbal medicine.

How is lemongrass used in cooking?

Lemongrass is widely used in culinary practices, particularly the species Cymbopogon citratus, which is favored for its lemony flavor. It’s used in teas, soups, and curries and can be used fresh, dried, or powdered. Citronella grass is also used for flavoring but is more commonly known for citronella oil production.

Are there medicinal benefits associated with lemongrass?

Lemongrass has been traditionally used for its therapeutic properties, including as a tea for anxiety in Brazilian folk medicine. Its essential oils are believed to have antiseptic properties and are used in household disinfectants, though scientific evidence on its effectiveness for various health claims is mixed.

Can lemongrass be used as an insect repellent?

Yes, lemongrass is known for its insect-repellent properties, particularly the species Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus, from which citronella oil is derived. This oil is commonly used in insect repellent sprays, candles, and soaps to deter mosquitoes and houseflies.

What are some other uses of lemongrass?

Apart from culinary and medicinal uses, lemongrass oil is used in beekeeping to attract bees due to its similarity to the honeybee pheromone. In hoodoo folk magic, lemongrass is a primary ingredient in van van oil and is believed to protect against evil, spiritually cleanse a house, and bring good luck in love affairs

Conclusion

From its botanical history to its chemical compounds, lemongrass is an amazing plant. Its ability to add bright flavor paired with its nutritional and therapeutic merits make lemongrass a valuable herb around the world. As research unlocks more of its secrets, the use of lemongrass is likely to increase globally. 9


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