Be it ever so humble, there is no grass like a lemon grass. A very useful medicinal plant and a tasty food flavoring.
Lemon grass or the local tanglad (scientific name: Cymbopogon ciatrus) is one of those wondrous herbs that one can always associate with Asian cooking Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese homegrown meal enthusiasts always have this tropical grass at hand for its aromatic citrus flavor with a trace of ginger. Few people know that its other popular name is citronella – the common scent you usually find in candles, perfumes and soaps.
Citronella is known for its calming effect that relieves insomnia or stress. It is also considered as a mild insect repellant. But more than scent, tanglad or lemon grass provides a lot of health benefits. Studies have shown that the lemon grass has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mixed with pepper, it’s a home therapy for menstrual troubles and nausea. Drank as tea, it is an effective diuretic. When it comes to pets, citronella is used to neutralize excessive barking of dogs. Since dogs hate citronella, it is sprayed to dogs to prevent them from barking or just to lessen the behavior.
The Lemon grass is a good cleanser that helps to detoxify the Liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and the digestive tract. It cuts down uric acid, cholesterol, excess fats and other toxins in the body while stimulating digestion, blood circulation, and lactation; it also alleviates indigestion and gastroenteritis. It is said that lemongrass also helps improve the skin by reducing acne and pimples and acts as a muscle and tissue toner. Also, it can reduce blood pressure. Just make a concoction by boiling some lemon grass leaves, let it cool for a while and drink the liquid.
The leaves and base of this tender perennial are used as a food flavoring, particularly in fish and poultry dishes, and its essential oils are used medicinally. Its distinctive flavor balances hot chillies and contributes to the elaborate, multi-layered flavors of many dishes in South East Asian cuisine.
As the long, thin, grey-green leaves are tough and fibrous, the outside leaves and the tips are usually chopped very finely or discarded from the dish before it is served. The base is often ground. Citral, an essential oil also found in lemon peel, is the constituent responsible for its taste and aroma.
Lemon grass, also known as Sweet Rush and sometimes called Fever Grass in the Caribbean, can be used as a remedy for ague, fevers, and colds.
Filipino ingenuity has produced a commercial beverage made from lemon grass. A concentrate composed of lemon grass juice and muscovado sugar bottled in attractive design.
A recent study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the department of Science and technology ( DOST ) claims that every 100g of edible tanglad when boiled can contain up to 24.205 micrograms of beta-carotene the anti-oxidant that scientists believe can help prevent cancer. Another DOST study shows that lemon grass oil has the potential as a tropical eye medication against keratomycosis, an inflammation of cornea often associated with burning or blurring of vision.
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