Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a perennial herb with a distinct, lemony aroma and flavor. It's a staple of both Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Though the plant is native to India, it's grown all over the world today. Lemongrass is a rich source of nutrients that offer many therapeutic benefits.
Benefits of Lemongrass: Lemongrass is a source of beneficial phytochemicals and specialized nutrients that support the body's response to harmful organisms, boost the immune system, and promote overall wellness. Although the balance of nutrients may vary slightly from one variety to the next, in general, lemongrass provides antioxidants like isoorientin, orientin, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid; all of which help halt the damaging action of free radicals. Caffeic acid, in particular, may neutralize free radical action up to 85%.
Supports the body's response to Harmful organisms: Some of the phytochemicals found in lemongrass are resistant to harmful organisms. Two of which, geraniol and nerol, are effective against a broad spectrum of harmful organisms. Another, citral, targets candida, specifically. Lemongrass may also be effective against entire colonies of organisms known as biofilms. A biofilm is a thin, slimy, continuous collection of organisms that adheres to a surface with the help of proteins and sugar. Dental plaque on teeth is a common example of a biofilm.
Promotes normal immune system response: Lemongrass encourages a normal, balanced immune system response-not one that's over reactive and ends up doing more harm than good. In that way, lemongrass may protect healthy cells and help soothe irritated tissue. Lemongrass contains two antioxidants, geranial and nerol, that belong to a class of phytochemicals called monoterpenes.
These phytochemicals influence the immune response. Citral also affects immune response by discouraging the body from producing cytokines-proteins that cause inflammation. Geraniol and citral also work in tandem to discourage the proliferation of malfunctioning cells, and encourage the body to detoxify itself of them.
Stomach protection: Your stomach features a protective lining called the mucosal layer that prevents acidic, gastric juices from damaging the interior of the stomach. It's not uncommon, however, for alcohol or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin to upset this protective layer. According to Brazilian folk medicine, lemongrass essential oil may help protect the mucosal layer of the stomach.
Encourages normal cardiovascular health: Lemongrass offers a multi-tier approach for supporting cardiovascular health. First, as a source of antioxidants, lemongrass may disrupt the oxidation of fat in the arteries. Second, the citral in lemongrass helps to relax overstressed blood vessels. And, lastly, although more research is necessary to quantify the effects in humans, the results of some animal studies suggest that lemongrass promotes normal cholesterol levels.
Deters insects: Topical or environmental application of lemongrass essential oil has long been used as a mosquito deterrent. You're probably familiar with the outdoor citronella candles designed to keep mosquitoes at bay. The citronella in those candles is usually sourced from the Cymbopogon winterianus or Cymbopogon nardus varieties of lemongrass. In fact, the mosquito-deterring effects of lemongrass oil are comparable to many chemical repellants such as DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide).
Encourages restful sleep: Night owls rejoice! If you struggle falling or staying asleep, lemongrass can help. Studies have found that lemongrass may increase sleep duration, encourage dream remembrance, and promote restful sleep.
Using lemongrass: Lemongrass is available fresh, dried, powdered, or as an essential oil. Your intentions will dictate the best form to select. Fresh lemongrass is best for cooking, extracts are commonly found in supplements, and the essential oil has many aromatherapy applications.
The writer is a professional researcher and nutritionist. The write-up has also appeared on www.globalhealingcenter.com
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