For this month's edition of the aromatherapy series, we will be talking about the uses and benefits of lemongrass. Lemongrass is a plant that you may or may not be aware of. It is very easy to grow and it has myriad benefits both in cooking and natural health. Lemongrass is in fact, a variety of grass. It enjoys warm climates and plenty of sunlight. You can easily grow lemongrass from stalks you find at the grocery store or farmer's market. Simply place the stalks in a jar with an inch or two of water and leave them there until they begin to sprout roots. Make sure to change out the water every couple of days or so. When you begin to see new leaves grow, your lemongrass is ready to be transplanted to a pot or the ground.
Lemongrass is a very popular component in many asian style dishes, but can also be used medicinally, or as a powerful cleaner. Before getting started, it is important to note that care should be exercised when using lemongrass oil when pregnant because of it's ability to stimulate blood flow. It should also always be diluted in a carrier oil before being used topically to avoid a rash.
The limonene present in lemongrass is what gives it its anti-inflammatory benefits. Lemongrass can be used to fight both internal and external inflammation. You can dilute it with a carrier oil and place directly over the affected area, or take it internally by cooking with lemongrass, adding the essential oil to beverages, or putting the oil in a gel capsule and taking it in pill form.
*If you are looking for signs of inflammation, just remember SHARP (Swelling, Heat, Altered sensation, Redness, Pain). There is also inflammation present with any condition ending in "-itis" as -itis literally means inflammation of.
Lemongrass is a very powerful wound healer due to its anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. This means that it can help to prevent and treat infection, kill bacteria, treat fungal infections, and kill anything else which may infect or irritate a wound. Mix in a drop or two with a salve or spray that you use to treat the wound, or dilute it with a natural carrier oil and apply directly to the wound. For added benefit, blend with other wound healing essential oils.
Headache and Pain Relief
Lemongrass is an analgesic which is what reduces pain and inflammation. Use it on any aches or pains by diffusing it, applying it topically with a carrier oil, or consuming it. It is also considered a very calming or soothing aroma, which when combined with its pain relieving abilities, can help to treat a headache. Try diffusing lemongrass on its own, or blending it with other headache relieving oils. Lemongrass is particularly effective with tension headaches, but not as beneficial for migraine relief. For migraines, try a combination of lavender and peppermint.
Lemongrass has been proven to help reduce fevers because of its ability to clear up the infection responsible for the fever itself. If you have a fever, try drinking plenty of water with some lemongrass essential oil or putting a few drops in a gel capsule.
Lemongrass can provide a boost to your immune system not only because it helps to kill any bacteria or infections that may get in, but because it helps to strengthen your body's natural defenses. Try diffusing lemongrass during cold and flu season to protect yourself from viruses, or use it when you are sick to help your body to fight illness that is already in your body.
Lemongrass is a handy thing to have around for anyone with digestive upset. It can help to relieve excess gas, protect the stomach lining, reduce or get rid of ulcers, and ease nausea or diarrhea. It can also be used as a natural detox method, as it helps to clear toxins from the liver and kidneys, and works as a diarrhetic to promote urination. By urinating more, you are flushing more toxins from your system. The best way to reap these benefits is to take lemongrass internally. You can drink lemongrass tea, or use it in a variety of dishes. If you have digestive troubles, lemongrass is a wonderful ingredient to learn to cook with, or you can order from restaurants who use it.
Sedative and Anti-Depressant
Lemongrass is known to be very calming and soothing, which can help to calm the mind. This can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, and anxiety. It is also a very uplifting scent which has been shown to boost self-esteem, hopefulness, and low spirits. Try diffusing the oil or adding it to a lotion or oil to use on your skin.
Nervous System Support
Lemongrass has been commonly used to calm the nerves. It can help to treat or alleviate symptoms of a variety of nervous system disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimers, and can help with conditions whose symptoms include irritability, seizures, convulsions, shaking limbs, numbness, and more.
Skin and Hair
Lemongrass has both antiseptic and astringent properties, which makes it a great addition to your skin care regimen. It works as a natural toner, and helps to kill bacteria in your pores. Try buying products with lemongrass in them, adding lemon grass to your favorite skin care products, or make your own. It also helps to strengthen your skin and hair, so try adding it to your shampoo or conditioner, or rubbing it into your scalp to help treat dry or itchy scalp, or prevent hair loss.
Lemongrass has strong deodorizing properties. It can be used in lieu of synthetic deodorants for under your arms, or you can make a spray with the oil and some water to deodorize linens, rooms, clothes, etc. You can also diffuse some lemongrass oil to get rid of room odors. It is especially nice to use in bathrooms and kitchens. Diffusing the oil can also help to kill airborne bacteria, so not only does it get rid of odors, but it helps to clean the air as well.
Because of its ability to kill bacteria and fungus, sanitize and sterilize, and kill odors, lemongrass is a powerful cleaner. Whether you want to make your own cleaning products or boost the effectiveness of the ones you already have, lemongrass is great to clean with. Try putting a couple of drops on a dust cloth and wipe down surfaces to disinfect them, or use it in a spray bottle with water, vinegar, or witch hazel to make a good all purpose spray.
Sick of using all manner of nasty chemicals in a sometimes futile attempt to keep the bugs away? Essential oils are natures bug repellents, and lemongrass is a strong one. Try making your own insect repellent by combining equal parts witch hazel and distilled water and adding your favorite combination of essential oils. Some good ones to use are lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and tea tree.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.