Lemongrass, also called fever grass, is a perennial plant with thin, long leaves that is indigenous to many Asian countries. As the name implies, this herb smells like lemon, but it tastes sweeter and milder.
While there are many species of fever grass, Cymbopogon citratus (family of Poaceae) is the variety most frequently recommended for medicinal purposes.
The plant grows in dense clumps that emerge from a tough bulbous base, with a spread of about one-meter width and about three feet in height.
Its bright green leaves with sharp edges are similar to that of grass. It grows wild in Southeast Africa and Asia.
The native people of these countries have been using it for its medicinal purposes since ancient times.
Due to its health benefits, this herb has become very popular in the western hemisphere in present times.
Fever grass is an abundant source of vitamins A, B1, B5, B6, C, minerals which include potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, phosphorus, manganese and calcium.
The plant also contains reported phytoconstituents, such as phenolic and flavonoids compounds, which consist of isoorientin 2’-O-rhamnoside, luteolin, quercetin, apigenin, and kaempferol.
Uses and Health Benefits
In the US, there will be an estimated 606,880 cancer deaths and 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed in 2019.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University, Israel have discovered that 1 gram of this plant contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide. The healthy cells were unharmed while the cancerous ones died.
Citral has been shown to cause apoptosis in cancer cells. Cancer patients in Israel are encouraged by their doctors to drink 8 glasses of fresh tea on the days they go in for chemotherapy or radiation treatments to help the healing process. (1)
It is often used to help calm the nerves. A 2009 study by the Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Biosciences, Brazil found that lemongrass oil can be effective in treating anxiety, as an anti-convulsive or as a sedative agent. (2)
Diabetes and Heart Disease
This herb has been used to treat both heart disease and diabetes in traditional medicine. A 2007 study by the Department of Pharmacology, Nigeria looked at the impact of administering lemongrass to rats.
After 42 days of taking 125 to 500 milligrams of Cymbopogon citratus per kilogram of body weight once a day, the rats had improved fasting glucose levels, lower triglyceride levels, and improved cholesterol levels.
These results mean that taking this tea may help treat or prevent heart disease and diabetes. However, more studies are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness for humans. (3)
The diuretic properties of this plant help in releasing toxins from the body, hence helping in the proper functioning of the liver and kidneys.
These facts are the result of research that was published in the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science on the comparative study of the antimicrobial activities of the ethanolic extracts of this plant. Frequent urination also helps in flushing out the accrued fats and maintaining proper digestion.
This tea can improve your digestive system in a number of ways. It can help clear out the uneasy feeling of nausea and aid with digestion in general if you suffer from a constant upset stomach.
For any individual who experiences digestive problems as a frequent issue, just one cup after a meal can help ease away bloated, discomforting feelings and push along better digestion which can prevent an upset stomach. This tea can also alleviate cases of heartburn, cramps, and gas.
The herb grows well in tropical climates where malaria is a concern and it may help combat the infection. Malaria is a life-threatening disease that’s usually transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito.
A 2005 research by the Department of Biochemistry, Cameroon demonstrated that the essential oils found in this plant are able to suppress malaria by 87% in mice.
More studies are needed to determine if the same effects are present in humans, but fever grass could offer relief to people in remote parts of the world who can’t receive modern medical treatment for this disease. (4)
Lowers LDL Cholesterol Levels
Regular consumption of this tea helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine. Cholesterol is a type of fat produced by your body and found in some foods (especially in meats, dairy products, and eggs).
According to research, the higher the LDL cholesterol level in your blood, the greater chance you have of getting heart disease.
Strong Antioxidant Properties
The antioxidants present in this tea stop the damage of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are everywhere – in our bodies, in the air, and in the materials around us.
Examples of oxidation or free radical damage include rotting foods, rust which you might see on lawn furniture or car.
More importantly, one of the causes of cancer is excessive free radical damage to your cells which damages your DNA and as a consequence, some cells mutate into cancerous cells.
Side Effects of Lemongrass Tea
It might lower blood glucose levels. Blood sugar levels might have to be monitored by a healthcare provider and medication adjustments might be essential if this happens.
Also, avoid getting lemongrass (oil or herb) in the eyes. Citral has been reported to irritate the respiratory tract in sensitive people, as well as the skin and eyes.
Consumption of this tea is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as certain chemical compounds (beta-myrcene) may increase perinatal mortality, cause decreased birth weight, and delay in development when taken at high doses.
Furthermore, this tea may cause slight increases in liver function tests, especially bilirubin (a yellow compound which occurs in the catabolic pathway which breaks down heme), or an increase in pancreatic tests, principally the enzyme amylase. Patients with liver conditions should use the plant with caution.