What you need to know: A staple ingredient of Asian fare, lemongrass is far more than just a subtle citrus flavor that’s added to soups, curries, and teas. Lemongrass is a widely used medicinal herb, known for its antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It is a tall, perennial grass, which is native to the tropical regions of Asia as well as India, and which is also utilized as a natural pesticide and preservative. Lemongrass contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are thought to relieve pain, reduce a fever, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow, lower cholesterol and fight nasal congestion.
Why you should try it: Lemongrass gains its medicinal properties from a compound called citronella oil. Citronella oil is popularly used in aromatherapy, and is said to help treat and prevent colds, fevers, and headaches, and to offer muscular-pain relief as well. In addition, it may improve mood disorders such as anxiety, and ease menstrual cramps. Citronella has also shown to suppress the growth of fungi species, such as aspergillus, eurotium and penicillium, helping to prevent infection in the colon, urethra, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, prostate and kidneys.
Let’s get together: Lemongrass is one of our favorite additions to healing soups, especially our Tom Kha made with fresh-pressed green juice. To use, slice off the bottom of the stalk, and peel off the outside drier layers. Then, with a large, wide knife or rolling pin, smash the stalk to soften. It is now ready to prepare for cooking. Another way to enjoy its benefits is by juicing. Lemongrass offers an extra dimension of flavor to juice, especially when paired with dark leafy greens and tropical fruits. Finally, if you’re looking to maximize its therapeutic value, grab a bottle of citronella oil and add it to your favorite essential oil diffuser, like this ultrasonic version from Quooz.