What is it?
Lemongrass, also called citronella, is a tall, stalky plant. It has a fresh, lemony aroma and a citrus flavor. It’s a common ingredient in Thai cooking and bug repellent. Lemongrass essential oil is used in aromatherapy to freshen the air, reduce stress, and uplift the mood.
Lemongrass is also used as a folk remedy to promote sleep, relieve pain, and boost immunity. One of the most popular ways to enjoy lemongrass is in tea. Keep reading to learn how drinking lemongrass tea may help deliver these potential health benefits.
1. It has antioxidant properties
According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, lemongrass contains several antioxidants, which can help scavenge free radicals in your body that may cause disease. Antioxidants of note are chlorogenic acid, isoorientin, and swertiajaponin. These antioxidants may help prevent dysfunction of cells inside your coronary arteries.
2. It has antimicrobial properties
Lemongrass tea may help treat oral infections and cavities, thanks to its antimicrobial properties. According to a 2012 in vitro study published by the National Institutes of Health, lemongrass essential oil showed antimicrobial abilities against Streptococcus mutans bacteria, the bacteria most responsible for tooth decay.
Further research found lemongrass oil and silver ions may work together against several types of bacteria and fungus in vitro.
3. It has anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation is thought to play a role in many conditions, including heart disease and stroke. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, two of the main compounds in lemongrass, citral and geranial, are thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
These compounds are said to help stop the release of certain inflammation-causing markers in your body.
4. It may reduce your cancer risk
The citral in lemongrass is also thought to have potent anticancer abilities against some cancer cell lines. Several components of lemongrass help fight cancer. This occurs either by causing cell death directly or boosting your immune system so that your body is better able to fight-off cancer on its own.
Lemongrass tea is sometimes used as an adjuvant therapy during chemotherapy and radiation. It should only be used under the guidance of an oncologist.
5. It may help promote healthy digestion
A cup of lemongrass tea is a go-to alternative remedy for upset stomach, stomach cramping, and other digestive problems. A 2012 study on rodents published by the National Institutes of Health showed that lemongrass may also be effective against gastric ulcers.
The study found that the essential oil of lemongrass leaves can help protect the stomach lining against damage from aspirin and ethanol. Regular aspirin use is a common cause of gastric ulcers.
6. It may act as a diuretic
In the world of natural health, lemongrass is a known diuretic. A diuretic makes you urinate more often, ridding your body of excess fluid and sodium. Diuretics are often prescribed if you have heart failure, liver failure, or edema.
A 2001 study evaluating the effects of lemongrass tea in rats showed diuretic activity similar to green tea without causing organ damage or other side effects. For the study, lemongrass tea was given to rats over a six-week period.
7. It may help reduce high systolic blood pressure
In a 2012 observational study, 72 male volunteers were given either lemongrass tea or green tea to drink. Those who drank the lemongrass tea experienced a moderate drop in systolic blood pressure and a mild increase in diastolic blood pressure. They also had a significantly lower heart rate.
Although these findings are exciting if you have high systolic blood pressure, researchers caution that men with heart problems should use lemongrass in moderation. This can help you avoid dangerous drops in heart rate or increased diastolic pressure.
8. It may help regulate your cholesterol
High cholesterol may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research showed that lemongrass oil extract helped to lower cholesterol in animals. The reduction in cholesterol was dependent on the dose.
In 2011, further research on mice confirmed the long-term safety of up to 100mg lemongrass essential oil daily. More research is needed to see if lemongrass tea has the same effects as lemongrass oil.
9. It may help you lose weight
Lemongrass tea is used as a detox tea to kick-start your metabolism and help you lose weight. Even so, most research on lemongrass and weight loss is anecdotal, not scientific. Since lemongrass is a natural diuretic, if you drink enough of it, you’re likely to drop some pounds.
In general, replacing soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks in your diet with herbal teas like lemongrass may help you reach your weight loss goals. However, you shouldn’t drink lemongrass tea exclusively. This can increase your risk of side effects. Try alternating cups of lemongrass tea with water or other unsweetened drinks.
10. It may help relieve symptoms of PMS
Lemongrass tea is used as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps, bloating, and hot flashes. There isn’t any research specifically on lemongrass and PMS, but, in theory, its stomach-soothing and anti-inflammatory properties may help. Additionally, according to an article published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, lemongrass oil is useful in helping to cool the body.
How to use
There isn’t enough research on lemongrass tea to recommend a standard dosage for any condition. For dosing recommendations, consult your doctor or a qualified natural health practitioner.
To limit your risk of side effects, start with one cup daily. If you tolerate this well, you can drink more. Stop drinking the tea or cut back if you experience side effects.
To make lemongrass tea:
- Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh or dried lemongrass
- Steep for at least five minutes
- Strain the tea
- Enjoy hot or add ice cubes for iced lemongrass tea
You can find loose lemongrass tea or lemongrass tea bags at most natural food stores or online. You can also purchase fresh lemongrass to grow yourself at nurseries where herbs are sold. Preferably, choose organic lemongrass that’s not treated with synthetic pesticides.
Herbs and herbal teas aren’t well-regulated, although some pre-packaged herbal teas must follow the U. S. Food and Drug Administration’s labeling laws. To make sure you get a high-quality, pure product, only buy herbal tea from a reputable manufacturer you trust.
If you don’t like drinking lemongrass, try cooking with it. Add a stalk or two to your favorite soup — it pairs well with chicken noodle. You can also add it to poultry or fish before baking. You can eat lemongrass raw, however, mince it well since it tends to be stringy.
Possible side effects and risks
Lemongrass is generally considered safe to use in food amounts, including the amount typically used to make tea.
Potential side effects include:
- increased hunger
- dry mouth
- increased urination
Some people may be allergic to lemongrass. Get emergency help if you experience allergic reaction symptoms, such as:
- difficulty breathing
- rapid heart rate
You shouldn’t drink lemongrass tea if you:
- are pregnant
- take prescription diuretics
- have a low heart rate
- have a low potassium levels
The bottom line
Lemongrass tea is generally a safe and healthy herbal drink. It’s easy to grow or find at most natural food stores. Animal and laboratory research has shown that lemongrass has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties. Lemongrass may also help protect your stomach lining and improve your lipid profile.
Many lemongrass studies were done using lemongrass essential oil, not lemongrass tea. More human studies are needed using lemongrass tea to confirm the health benefits of lemongrass.
You shouldn’t self-treat any condition with lemongrass tea or use it in place of your prescribed medications without your doctor’s approval.