Lemongrass is indigenous to India. Its aromatic stem and leaves are commonly used in fresh or dried form in Asian cuisine. It is used in preparation of teas, soups, and curries. In cosmetic industry, the essential oil is added to soaps and hair care products.
Lemongrass is medicinal plant. It is used both internally and externally. It is effective against catarrh, cough, asthma, bladder disorders, febrile conditions, flatulence and fever. It has rubefacient (causes dilation of the capillaries and increases blood circulation) action and used externally for chronic rheumatic ailments, lumbago, and sprains.
Lemongrass tea, prepared from the leaves of plant is good for digestive disorders and catarrhal conditions. It gives relief from bloating, gas cramps, pain after eating and stomach acidity. Lemongrass tea eases the pain during periods and reduces swelling in body.
Lemongrass is a tall tufted perennial grass cultivated in various parts of India.
Description of plant
- Leaf: Leaves are glaucous, linear, parallel veined, about 90 cm in length, 2 to 3 cm in width, conspicuous midrib present, apex pointed, margin entire, with sheathing base and a ligule at its base. The leaf has aroma of lemon with bitter taste.
- Stem: It is pale yellow-light green, hollow, 4 to 10 cm in length, 1 to 3 cm in diameter.
- Rhizome: The rhizomes are irregular, dark brown in colour, narrow internodes present 4 to 9 cm in length, 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter.
- Root: Fibrous roots are adventitious, 5 to 10 mm in length, 0.2 to 0.7 mm in thickness.
The botanical name of Lemongrass is Cymbopogon citratus. It belongs to plant genus Cymbopogon and family Poaceae / Gramineae. The name of genus, Cymbopogon is derived from Greek word kymbe = hallow boat like-vessel and pogon = beard. Many plants belonging to this family are used for commercial and medicinal uses. They are high in essential oil content.
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
- Subclass: Commelinidae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae – Grass family
- Genus: Cymbopogon Spreng. – lemon grass
- Species: Cymbopogon citratus (DC. ex Nees) Stapf – lemon grass
- Andropogon citratus DC.
- Andropogon citriodorum Desf.
- Andropogon roxburghii Nees.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Staph
- Common names: Lemon Grass, Barbed Wire Grass, Silky Heads, Citronella Grass, Cha De Dartigalongue, Gavati Chaha, Hierba Luisa, Fever Grass
- Sanskrit / Ayurvedic: Rohisham, Jambira truna, Atigandha, Badhira, Bhutrinah, Jambiratrinah, Guhybija, Bhutika, Gochhalaka, Guchhala, Guhyabija, Gundardha, Jambukapriya, Karenduka, Kutimbaka, Malatrinaka, Punsvavighraha, Putigandha, Rohisha, Samalambi, Shringaroha, Sugandha, Kattrina
- Bengali: Gandhatrun, Gandhabenaa
- English: Lemon grass
- Gujrati: Lilichaa
- Hindi: Gandhatrun, Harichaaya, Gandhatrina
- Kannada: Majjigahullu
- Malayalam: Chennanampullu, Incippullu, Vasanappullu
- Marathi: Hirvaa Chahaa, Olaa Chahaa, Paatichahaa
- Punjabi: Gandhatrun, Sharbaan
- Telugu: Nimmagaddi, Vasana gaddi
- Tamil: Karpurappillu, Vasanappillu
- Sri Lanka: Sera
- Siddha: Elumitchai Pul
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaf, Stem, Oil
Plant type: Grass, herb
Distribution: Found throughout India
Habitat: Warm climate
Lemon grass essential oil: It is a yellow or amber liquid with antiseptic properties. It is effective against most strains of fungal and bacterial infections.
Main indications of Lemongrass
Intake of lemongrass powder or tea is beneficial in following conditions.
- Catarrh, Congestion, Cough, Cold
- Indigestion, gas, abdominal pain
- Flu, Fever, Swelling
- Painful periods
- Headache, sleeplessness
- High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol
- Ringworm, Fungus, Candida, Yeast, Scabies (Topical use)
Constituents of Cymbopogon citratus
The lemongrass contains a volatile oil with citral (about 70%), Citral, Citronellal, Citronellol, Geraniol, Geranyl-Acetate and Myrcene.
The essential oil obtained from the plant contains citral.
Citral has Anti-allergic, Antibacterial, Anticancer, Anti-parasitic, Expectorant, Sedative and Teratogenic (can disturb the development of an embryo or fetus, may cause a birth defect in the child) properties.
An insulin-like principle (neither an alkaloid nor a glucoside) has been isolated from the plant.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Lemongrass is considered bitter, pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya). It is used in Ayurveda, for treatment of Shvas (Asthma), Bhuta Badha (mental diseases), Burning sensation, dadru (ring- worm), Kasa (Cough, Bronchitis), Krimi (Worms), Kushtha (Skin diseases), Udara (Abdominal disorders), Arochaka (loss of appetite, taste, or anorexia), Santap (Heat), Vami (Vomiting) etc.
Due to Katu and Tikta Rasa, it stimulates digestion. Tikshna and Ruksha Guna, makes it expectorant and helps to cure Kapha. It is cooling and helps to reduce high body temperature. It cures Visha (poisoning).
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter), Amla (Sour)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp / Penetrating), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Sheeta (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Dosha: Reduces Vata, Pitta and Kapha; But increases Vata when taken in excess
- Srota (Channel): Digestive, Respiratory, Female reproductive, Urinary, and Sweat
- Amapachana: Toxin digester
- Deepana: Promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food
- Cakshushya: Good for eyes
- Mukhasodhana: Purification of mouth
- Rechana: Purgation
- Ruchikarak: Improve taste
- Stanyajana: promote the secretion of milk
- Shitaprasamana: Pacify cold
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha
- Vishaghna: Poison-destroying
- Vamihara: subsides vomiting
- Jwaraghna: Alleviates fever
Important Medicinal Properties
Cymbopogon citratus is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it should be taken during pregnancy due to emmenagogue, abortifacient and teratogenic properties.
Studies show, the plant causes apoptosis or programmed cell death in cancer cells but the normal cells are unharmed. Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.The plant has anti-cancer properties.
- Abortifacient: abortion causing.
- Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Analgesic: Acting to relieve pain.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Depurative: Purifying agent.
- Diaphoretic: Promote sweating.
- Digestive: Digestant.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Emmenagogue: Stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
- Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
- Stimulant: Raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
Medicinal Uses of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemongrass is an Indian plant. It is used in treatment of many digestive diseases such as abdominal pain, cramps colic, vomiting, gas, cholera, indigestion etc. It stimulates appetite and digestion but does not increase Pitta. It has carminative action and gives relief in pain due to gas. It directs the flow of Vata (wind) downwards.
- Due to expectorant and diaphoretic properties, it is effective in reducing fever by inducing sweating. It is also used in malarial fever.
- It helps to stimulate menstruation and gives relief in pain during menses. It has galactagogue action and improves milk production.
- Intake of Lemongrass tea, helps to improve appetite and digestion. This helps to gain weight. This also reduces phlegm and fever. It is a tonic for uterus.
- The essential oil is used externally on sprain, gout, joint pain, lumbago, myalgia, chronic rheumatism and similar other ailments.
- It is applied topically on athlete’s foot (tinea pedia), ring worms and other fungal infections of skin.
Dosage of Cymbopogon citratus
- The dried powder of plant is taken in dose of 3-9 grams.
- Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Cymbopogon citratus
- This herb is very safe to take.
- It has abortifacient action. The rhizome of plant is boiled and taken to cause miscarriage.
- Intake of herb in high amount (10-15grams) can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.
- It has emmenagogue action and stimulates menstruation.