Lemongrass is so much more than just a simple herb plant that produces oil. It has been used for centuries and pops up often in history books and folktales.. Here are some interesting facts about the plant and oil. (This opening paragraph is pretty weak)
About The Lemongrass Plant
Lemongrass is an herb that produces a pleasing scent and is often used to decorate gardens. It is native to India and Sri Lanka but can now be found all over the world. The plant grows in clusters that can grow as tall as six feet and as wide as four feet. It is a perennial plant with thick stalks that boost slender leaf blades. The leaves stay all year in warm climates and are a bluish-green color.
Other names for the plant include barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, fever grass, tanglad and gavati chaha.
The stalks can be distilled, which will produce lemongrass essential oil. This oil is used to treat cold and flu symptoms, sore muscles, urinary tract infections, fungal infections and is used topically for better appearance of skin and hair. Research shows that it may be effective in treating cancer and depression.
Lemongrass In History
Lemongrass has been a common ingredient in soup, fish and chicken dishes, especially in Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It has also been used as an herbal medicine for at least five thousand years. It has been cultivated in Southeast Asia for the past two thousand years but was not introduced to new territories for quite some time. It has only been in the United States for less than one hundred years. While considered to be a newer essential oil, when compared to ancient oils such as lavender or peppermint, it is still considered one of the top ten oils on the market today, thanks to its long list of uses and properties.
In 1905, a researcher named J.F. Jovit from Sri Lanka found himself with several lemongrass plants. He planted them at Bandarawela Farm in Sri Lanka for research purposes. This was the first step towards proving the rumored traits boasted by the locals for centuries through scientific studies. Results were promising and the plant grew in popularity. While it is believed that the Philippines were exporting lemongrass as early as the 17th century, the first documented commercial cultivation of lemongrass oil was not until 1947 in Florida and Haiti. Today, lemongrass is grown commercially in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. India produces the best quality oil and also the largest amount of lemongrass.
- A Malaysian folktale states that you will always find treasure under a lemongrass plant that is blooming. However, lemongrass plants rarely bloom. If flowers are produced, they are very small and either white, cream or green in color.
- Lemongrass is seasonal in some parts of the world based on the climate but if it can grow all year long it may be harvested up to four times a year.
- Lemongrass is a common name for spas and therapy centers because of its associated calming properties.
- Lemongrass can be split into multiple plants. To split, use a shovel and cut the plant directly in half. As long as three stalks remain in tact, the plant will continue to grow. It can then be transported or moved.
- Lemongrass blends well with lemon, patchouli, basil, coriander, melaleuca, lavender, geranium and ylang ylang essential oils. There are countless combinations for scents when diffusing oils or mixing together for lotion or body care scents.
- The list of properties for lemongrass oil is quite impressive. The oil possesses analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-microbial, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, deodorant, diuretic, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. There’s not much that lemongrass oil can’t help with.
- Lemongrass is quickly becoming a sought after crop to grow. It is estimated that an entrepreneur can gross $4.8 million a year just from one acre of lemongrass.
- The stalks can be frozen for future use for several months. There are also powdered versions available.
- In the Philippines, a bottled commercial beverage is available made of lemon grass juice and muscovado sugar.
- Lemongrass leaves can be wrapped around grilled or baked food to create an edible lemon flavored pocket.
Lemongrass is one of the top ten essential oils and is used all over the globe to treat a wide variety of conditions, ranging from skin and hair moisturizing to urinary tract infections. The oil is quickly becoming an alternative treatment for mild depression and can help to speed up the healing of sprains. It is also used to help with symptoms of the common cold and flu. Scientific research has shown that the oil can help lower cholesterol and even kill cancer cells.
The oil can be applied topically, either directly in small amounts or in larger quantities when diluted with a carrier oil. The oil can be applied to the hands and then inhaled after rubbing the hands together for a few seconds. It can also be consumed in teas or soups or through the newest option, a capsule. Because the oil can penetrate the skin so easily it is believed that for most conditions, topical and internal applications will provide the same results.
Lemongrass oil can be bought on the internet or at most general wellness stores. Always make sure that the oil is of a high quality, as this will have an effect on treatment success. It is also quite easy to grow lemongrass and make your own essential oil extract at home. This oil can be added to shampoos or even used in homemade cleaning products and bug sprays.
Studies continue to be conducted on the herb and the oil that it produces, especially with so many positive past results. It is likely that in the future we may see more medications with lemongrass as an active ingredient and may even see it as a viable cancer treatment that produces life saving results with less harmful side effects.