Lemongrass is attracting attention of masses as food to improve digestive health. Historically, people have been using lemongrass to improve digestive health. Primitively, people of southern parts of India and Sri Lanka have been growing lemongrass. Now various countries around the globe are growing lemongrass. Other common names for this plant include Malabar grass, Cochin grass, Barbed-Wire grass, Citronella grass and silky or oily heads. In addition, this plant exhibits striking resemblance because of its scent to that of lemons. The stalks of lemongrass are utilized as conventional cooking ingredient in Asian culinary. A Malaysian folktale also consists of statement about finding treasure under a blooming lemongrass plant. However, lemongrass brewing is also in practice to prepare its tea formulations for intended consumers for digestion improvement. Medicinal formulations also consist of lemongrass essential oils.
Similarly, the leaves of lemongrass exhibit strike resemblance with seagrasses. 55 species of Lemongrass have been reported, however, only two varietal types of East and West Indian origin have appropriateness for culinary application . Other common names for lemongrass are British Indian Lemongrass, Capim-Cidrao, Ceylon Citronella Grass, Citronella, Citronnelle de Ceylan, East Indian Lemongrass, Fever Grass, Guatemala Lemongrass, Madagascar Lemongrass, Verveine Indienne, West Indian Lemongrass.
Therefore, in India, people use it it as medicinal herb as well as in perfumery and it has been in use for many years for medicinal purposes as an important Ayurvedic favourite)
Various forms of lemongrass or utilization are:
- As raw stalks in cooking
- Lemongrass tea (Often used in Thai and may other Asian cuisines)
- Extracted essential oils from lemongrass
- Addition as herb in stir-fries and soups
- Lemongrass herbal tea used to produce lemongrass oil, culinary herbs, and citronella candles
Lemongrass for Digestive Health
Globally, people use lemongrass to impart flavoring in culinary preparations, desserts and beverages. Historically, people of Caribbean and Cuba use it as digestion aid and also in formulations of curries, soups and teas. In essential oils category, consumer appreciate mostly the lemongrass essential oils utilized today owing to their health benefits, effectiveness and wide range of applications specifically for digestion. Mainly, the steam distillation process is used to extract high-quality essential oil from lemongrass leaves and exhibits citrus-like, grassy and refreshing aroma with color ranges from amber to yellow [2,4].
In addition, Essential oils extracted from lemongrass comprise of various chemical constituents, however, main ones are these:
- Geranyl Acetate
Plants are rich in powerful antioxidants. Regarding lemongrass for digestive health improvement, among all constituents, D-Limonene plays its role in improving digestion, suppressing appetite, acting as antioxidant and detoxicant. Published literature offers many reports about nutraceutical potential of lemongrass and hence, as anti-nociceptive, it relives the abdominal pain and is very much beneficial to mitigate stomach aches. Regarding gastrointestinal (GI) tract, lemongrass may help to reduce the discomfort arising from spasms of GI tract. Alternative and traditional medicine involve extensive use of medicinal and aromatic plants in developing countries and its usage is more frequent among people who usually cannot get proper access to medical facilities or those who prefer to be modest users of conventionally-prescribed medicines. In Algeria, people alleviate stomachache usually using lemongrass tea or water. D-limonene in lemongrass oil is thought to contribute to digestive wellness and improvement, and hence lemongrass oil and tea are widely utilized as digestive aids [3,4].
Limonene to Aid Digestion
Moreover, lemongrass comprises of limonene content of 1.9-2.5% in its composition. In other words, D-Limonene, also known as terpene, has wonderful property to relieve digestive health issues, such as soothing the condition of occasional acid reflux, improving digestive ability of stomach and helping to improve sluggish bowel movement. Other health promoting properties of D-limonene including detoxification of liver and cholesterol-sludge clearance also play complementary role in improving digestion . As a appetize suppressant, D-limonene from lemongrass oil helps in reduction of appetite, metabolism improvement and weight management.
Maintaining Balance and Bowel Mobility
Therefore, in order to digest foods properly, our bowels need to move forward at proper time and this is termed as peristaltic movement. Normally, bowel movement takes place right after getting up early in the morning or after having the proper meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner time. For maintenance of proper bowel mobility, almost an intake of 1,000 mg of D-limonene/day provides enough assistance regarding digestive health. Lemongrass oil or tea consumption on regular basis may provide a natural source of D-limonene to have improved digestive health with improved bowel mobility. hence, Limonene from lemongrass may improve digestion.
Remedy for Occasional Reflux Indigestion
The reason why we see so many commercials on television about heartburn medication, such as Tums®, Tagamet® and Prilosec®, is startling because 40% of people suffer from reflux indigestion. Other name for this is gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD1). According to an estimate, about $8 billion are spent to treat the heartburn and GERD1 conditions using over-the-counter prescriptions. In addition, it is so prevalent that people feel heartburn soon after eating and experience intense pain and presume an emergency need to rush to hospital because of potential fear of heart attack in their minds.
Normally, a misconception exists among masses that main cause of heartburn is the excessive amounts of stomach acids containing digestive enzymes like pepsin. Studies have indicated that experience of heartburn feeling is prevalent in almost 25 million Americans on daily basis and 60 million once a month.
Now it has been realized by many doctors around the world that the real causal factor responsible for this heartburn or GERD1 issue is the irregularity in opening of sphincter existing between stomach and esophagus and this failure of sphincter muscle caused this heartburn condition. The medication used to relive this condition usually involve proton-pump inhibitor drugs and apart from relieving the pain, these drugs also cause complete shutdown of the normal production process of stomach acid—depriving the body of this acid—to maintain optimal food digestions. An alternative natural solution to this condition is D-limonene and lemongrass essential oil or tea may provide relief for this occasional reflex indigestion in case of moderate consumption on regular basis.
D-Limonene and Indigestion
This occasional reflex condition of indigestion results when bowels motility do not take place at optimal pace at right time. This may be because of the fact that assimilated foods components present in stomach cause irritation and often due to the irregularities in flow of bile to stomach during digestion process. D-Limonene has an excellent ability to alleviate all these issues related to digestive health. It is evident from recent studies on humans that proper intake of D-limonene (1,000 mg/day) has exerted beneficial effect on reflux after 10 doses. With regard to lemongrass for digestion improvement, its tea or oil can be helpful to mitigate occasional reflux indigestion. Apart from daily consumption. usage of D-limonene thrice a week (on every other day) also provides this beneficial effect for gut health. Although, the precise mechanism underpinning the efficacy of D-limonene is still unclear, however, scientists have given probable explanation of this relief of heartburn feeling after D-limonene consumption. They say that D-limonene causes this effect owing to flowing on the surface of stomach gastric juices because of insolubility in water and being lighter as compared to water [3,5].
Caution about Essential Oils Consumption
Although people use lemongrass for digestion improvement, however, it is is safe to consume its stalks and beverage. Moreover, food manufacturing involves its extensive use. Care should be taken and essential oils from lemongrass should not be ingested However, extracted essential oils in purified form may pose side effects after ingestion. In case of topical utilization, it may lead to allergic reaction or skin irritation. Therefore, lemongrass oils should not be ingested by intended consumers. It is highly advisable to consult medical practitioner prior to consumption of lemongrass essential oils as digestive aid. Medical advice must be taken before using essential oils in case of:
- Nursing and pregnant women
- Patients suffering from liver or kidney disease
- Patients with low blood sugar or suffering from diabetes
- Asthmatic hypertensive Patients
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In conclusion, lemongrass is effective to improve digestion as an excellent source of D-limonene and is highly reputed due to its medicinal properties to treat stomachache and improve digestive health as well as other antioxidant, antifungal and immunity boosting abilities. It can be used as a culinary ingredient or in form of lemongrass tea or extracted lemongrass essential oils. Please seek the opinion of your medical doctor about safety of essential oils. Hence, lemongrass essential oils can be exploited as natural remedy to maintain digestive balance, to improve bowel mobility or treat digestive and stomach issues, such as heartburn and occasional reflux indigestion. Lemongrass tea can be prepared by boiling lemongrass stalks or dried leaves in water and allowing to steep. Use lemongrass tea on regular intervals and being moderate in consumption.
Find further details about lemongrass tea formulation in Times of India article here
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 Lemongrass Essential Oils: Benefits and Uses. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/all-about-lemongrass-oil.html
 Boukhatem MN, Ferhat MA, Kameli A, Saidi F, Kebir HT. Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs. Libyan J Med 2014 9(1):25431. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.12.039.
 Gastro Problems & D-Limonene. A Natural Solution.
 Skaria, B. P., Joy, P. P., Mathew, S., & Mathew, G. (2006). Lemongrass. In Handbook of herbs and spices (pp. 400-419). Woodhead Publishing.
 Manvitha K, Bidya B. Review on pharmacological activity of Cymbopogon citratus. Int J Herb Med 2014 (1)6:5-7.