Sweetly scented grass growing in large clumps up to 5 ft (1.5 m). Has narrow leaf blades and branched stalks of flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to southern India and Sri Lanka, lemon grass is now cultivated in tropical regions around the world.
Leaves, essential oil.
Lemon grass contains a volatile oil with citral (about 70%) and citronellal as its main constituents. Both are markedly sedative.
History & Folklore
Lemon grass is cultivated for its oil, which is used as a culinary flavoring, a scent, and medicinally.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Lemon grass is principally taken as a tea to remedy digestive problems. It relaxes the muscles of the stomach and gut, relieves cramping pains and flatulence, and is particularly suitable for children. In the Caribbean, lemon grass is primarily regarded as a fever-reducing herb (especially where there is significant congestion). It is applied externally as a poultice or as diluted essential oil to ease pain and arthritis. In India, a paste of the leaves is smeared on patches of ringworm.
C. martinii and C. nardus yield essential oils that are widely used in soaps and detergents. In Tanzania, medicine men smoke the flowers of C. densiflorus to produce dreams foretelling the future.
Do not take the essential oil internally without professional supervision.