Lemongrass Uses

lemongrass, lemon grass, tanglad

Ask any Asian mom and she will tell you that lemongrass is just about the most valuable herb in the kitchen. Lemongrass imparts a complex yet mellow blend of ginger, mint and citrus to foods. It goes well with most anything– vegetables, fish and any kind of meat. It removes all traces of raw and fishy odor. In the Philippines, lemongrass is stuffed into the bellies of roasted chicken and pig (lechon) to achieve that distinctively Asian flavor and aroma.

I am one happy cook when I’m cooking up soup with all the herbs I love– onions, ginger, red bell pepper, tomatoes and lemongrass. Especially lemongrass. And I’m one happy mama when I see my kids sipping this flavorful, aromatic and healthful soup. The fact is, if there’s something I would never skip in my soup, it’s lemongrass.

Lemongrass is scientifically known as Cymbopogon citratus, a grass-like herb native in Asia. Historically, it is one of the most used spices in Asian cuisine and also one of the most revered herbal remedies in Asia.

Here are the various uses of lemongrass:
Lemongrass is a staple herb in Asian dishes. The long blades are twisted together into a knot (as the picture above shows) and used as herb in just about any dish. In Malaysia, the white bulb portion is cut and bruised and dropped into soups as well.

Lemongrass is classed as a biopesticide or natural pesticide which safely repels insects including mosquitoes. It is closely related to Cymbopogon winterianus, otherwise known as citronella which is a more effective mosquito repellent. You can read more about citronella.

Lemongrass has shown antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, thanks to its principal components, geraniol and citronellol. Its antibacterial activity is said to be comparable to that of penicillin.For this reason, the essential oil of citronella is widely used in soaps,disinfectants and massage oils.

Lemongrass is also a stellar feature in aromatherapy because of its pleasantly cool and citrusy smell which induces relaxation and sleep.

Lemongrass has also demonstrated anxiolytic activity, making it especially helpful for clinical depression. It is one of the popular herbal remedies for anxiety and depression, most probably because it induces sleep.

In the Philippines, it is popularly believed (though not yet clinically proven) as a blood pressure-lowering agent. Leaves and bulbs are steeped in boiling water and the resulting tea is taken as is or mixed with lemon juice.

In India, lemongrass oil is used as a preservative which amazingly keeps ancient palm-leaf manuscripts dry and intact.

Still in India, lemongrass tea is one of the herbal remedies for nasal decongestion, coughs and colds.

In the US, specifically in a University of Wisconsin study, lemongrass capsules ingested by hypercholesterolemics caused a lowering of blood fats by an average of 25%.

In Israel, where advances in science and medicine are amazingly rapid, researchers discovered that lemongrass induces apoptosis (hara-kiri or suicide) of cancer cells. However, these are yet laboratory studies as only leukemia cells from human blood were involved.

Here’s a Filipino fish stew recipe with lemongrass and a coconut-based vegetable stew with lemongrass. Here’s a lacto-fermented herbal sweetener recipe which also makes use of lemongrass.

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