Lemongrass, or Cymbopogon citratus, grows in tropical regions and is renowned as a medicinal herb in numerous Asian and Latin American cultures. With its long bladed leaves, lemongrass thrives in warm weather conditions and grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet. People who use lemongrass as a home remedy often make a tea by cutting the leaves into small pieces and steeping them in boiling water. Always consult your doctor before using lemongrass to treat any condition.
Lemongrass tea has an international reputation as an herbal remedy for cancer. Medical researchers in Israel published an article in the May 2005 issue of the journal "Planta Medica" reporting their findings that citral, a substance in lemongrass, caused apoptosis, or cell suicide, in malignant cancer cells without harming the normal cells that were present. However, human cancer patients were not used as subjects in the study. The amount of citral used in the laboratory for this experiment was the same amount that is present in a cup of lemongrass tea. Always talk to your doctor before using lemongrass remedies.
Based on a university study, lemongrass tea may have a cholesterol-lowering effect in people. In 1989, researchers at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Nutritional Sciences investigated the link between lemongrass and cholesterol. The research team published its findings -- a significant decrease in cholesterol levels in test subjects who took lemongrass oil capsules daily over a three-month period -- in the August 1989 issue of the medical journal "Lipids." Consult your doctor before taking lemongrass to treat high cholesterol.
Other Reported Benefits
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved lemongrass in any form as a medical treatment. Always consult with your doctor before taking lemongrass tea or any herbal remedy. Various cultures from Southeast Asia to North America have embraced lemongrass tea as a remedy for a range of medical conditions. In the September/October 1978 issue of "Mother Earth News," the editors reported on the prominence of lemongrass in Mexican folk medicine -- for aiding digestion, easing nervous disorders and assisting in the treatment of high blood pressure. Another authority with information on herbal remedies, AltMD - the Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, reports on a laboratory investigation, conducted without human subjects, and published in the medical journal "Microbios" in 1996. Researchers showed the effectiveness of lemongrass against 22 strains of bacteria and 12 types of fungi.
Making Lemongrass Tea
Cut several of the long leaves from the plant. Wash them and cut the leaves into inch-long pieces. Cover the pieces with water, bring it to a boil and let the tea steep for 10 minutes or so. Another method is to place the leaves in a teapot, pour boiling water over them and let the liquid steep until the tea seems to be the right strength. Sweeten with honey.