Lemongrass Tea Uses and Benefits

 in Lifestyle

Sickness can be one the the scariest things, a moment we feel like we are losing control.  My friends and family know that I am a lexicon of home remedies. Weekly I receive texts and calls from friends asking about their coughs, cuts, rashes, heachaches and stomach aches.  I am quick in some of my recommendations because the common cold and stomach ache is easy to cure. It’s when they call me with ulcers, colitis, diabetes, heart disease and others that I am slow to know the answers, quick to recommend a doctor, and now a cup of tea.

Plant medicine is a slow medicine, it doesn’t cure you overnight and for some things the cure was prevention before it happened.  Often we need doctors, I urge you to be proactive and get your regular checkups, your yearly blood work and women’s checks too. It can be one of the best preventive medicines you do.  

Recently it came to my attention that my brother-in-law has one of those not so quick to cure illnesses, one of those things that needs close management and a specialized doctor.  In moments like this I think that modern pharmaceuticals and traditional plant medicine should find a balance. We need tools to deal with the crisis as well as aid in the long term management.

Lemongrass is my new superstar recommendation (don’t get mad aloe vera, I still love you and recommend you too!)  However, this recommendations starts with lifestyle.  I think drinking a cup of tea during moments of stress is a good way to bring our brains back to the present and help us manage what comes next.  They tell us we are what we think and that stress is killing us. Therefore, in my worst moments I can be found pondering the situation with the steam of a hot cup in my hands. Slowly breathing in and out until I feel calm enough to continue.

What better recommendation for your bad diagnosis than a slow, soothing cup of tea full of vitamins!
That’s Lemongrass in a nutshell.

I’ve gone ahead and done some of the hard work reading studies and medical reports to see what’s the real deal behind lemongrass, I’ve linked to them throughout this article so you don’t have to “just take my word for it”. I’ve also learned it is used throughout traditional medicine, specifically in Indonesia and Brazil as a first line of medical defense which is grabbing my attention.  Furthermore, doctors in many East African countries are considering it’s use in their clinics sterile process which means this isn’t just a old-wives home remedy, there is something more happening here. A plant that has the attention of the world, also has mine. Personally, I’ve concluded it’s a plant I can no longer live without.


Benefits:

Firstly, it’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  
That makes it great when you have a cold or the flu, but also helps your hair and skin grow healthy and strong (1).  Honestly people aren’t getting enough vitamins, I find lemongrass is an easy way to add nutrition to your daily routine.

Further, studies have shown it boosts metabolism, aids in digestive disorders,  and most importantly, naturally helps diabetics manage their blood sugar levels (2).  This is because lemongrass contains a large concentration of cital as an active ingredient.  Cital is something you can be prescribed by your doctor already if you have a kidney problem, or a urinary tract infection, but it’s benefits and uses are in continued study (3).

Moreover, there are countless studies testing it’s antifungal and antimicrobial effects meaning yeast, thrush and ringworm among others don’t stand a chance (4).

Lastly, it’s bug repellent!  Which is a topic all it’s own and I will cover in another post.


Side Effects:
A very small number of people have reported allergy to lemongrass, it’s very rare but  if you start to use the plant and experience any allergic side effects such as rash, itching, or high fever discontinue use immediately.

From the fresh plant there is little chance of negative side effects, all test on healthy adults show no change in their blood toxicity levels.  Some internet articles will tell you lemongrass is used as a sleep aid but studies I read show it acts no differently than placebos. I think if you drink any tea at night it will relax and put you to sleep, lemongrass doesn’t magically induce sleep of itself.  Therefore, it is also perfectly safe to drink throughout the day (5).

Oil extracts in large quantities have proven toxic though, proceed with caution or use under medical advice (6).

For consumption I always use from the whole plant, I only use extractions in bug spray or shampoo.
Children can have 1 cup of tea a day, but shouldn’t eat the plant raw.
Pregnant women should avoid lemongrass completely.

How to grow Lemongrass:
It’s a tropical grass that needs 2 things, sun and space.
You will want a loose, well drained, or slightly rocky soil.
You will also want to add compost to the top every month or 2 for the healthiest plant.

If you lie in a place that freezes you will want to grow lemongrass in containers at least 12 inches wide and deep but a 5 gallon bucket would be great too. When growing in containers lemongrass is very susceptible to wind and falling over, make sure your plant is safe and secure in it’s sunny location. Note, if you live in a rainy not so sunny place, lemongrass may not grow well even in containers.  Also be aware, when overwintering the plant will grow much slower, I advise to make all cuts before you over winter your container. If possible you should separate your root and grow part in the garden and part in a container each year to increase your yields. When summer ends you can cut back the entire garden plant to store for winter use and bring your container inside. Lemongrass begins to grow at temperatures above 40 degrees and from my experience it can withstand direct sun up to 115 degrees.  I’ve been told you can even grow it in notoriously hot Phoenix, Arizona conditions.

If you live in the tropics or subtropics like me, it’s a continuous grower and a garden plant can grow quite big (5 feet, 1.5 meters). You can of course keep cutting it back for use (I usually harvest weekly) but make sure you plant to somewhere that give it enough space.

  

Harvesting:
Make cuts as low on the base as possible. It’s not required to pull up the root because it can regenerate itself. However, the best oil content is low in the plant and this soft core can even be used in soups and curries. The grassy parts are only used in teas and extractions.

How to make tea:

I used 1 complete cutting for 1-2 cups of tea and 2-3 cutting for 3-4 cups of tea.
If using store bought you won’t have the top grassy part I do, so you may want to add 1 more core to each brew.
It’s really up to your taste preference.
The tea sound be a beautiful pale green color, if it’s too dark for your taste you can add ice or water.
If using dry, I am not sure the proportions so it’s not green or flavorful enough add more next time you brew.


Boil for 5 minutes, steep for 5-10 mins,
but don’t worry, you can’t really over steep this one.
I usually strain it when I am ready to drink it.
It can be served sweetened, unsweetened, hot or cold.

Storage:
Fresh cuts can be stored in the fridge for 1 month
Or in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Dried can be stored for 1 year

How to dry:
Cut the fresh stalks into ½ inch pieces before drying, because after drying stalks can be hard and unmanageable. Dry on a screen in direct sunlight or in your dehydrator.

 

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