By L.J. Devon

As the invigorating scent of fresh-cut lemongrass fills the air, the mood changes, lifting the spirits of all nearby. The scent of lemongrass alone has a noticeable effect on the mind. Lemongrass essential oil is lemony-bold and bitter-sweet. It adds a powerful flavour to oriental dishes, is a staple culinary herb in south East Asia, and is prevalent in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The tall grass-like reeds can be grown in most temperate areas. It’s great to grow bunches of this herb in the garden, because its bold scent repels insects that try to take over the food crops. The plant’s natural bug repellent properties make lemongrass essential oil a popular alternative to synthetic (DEET) bug sprays. Lemongrass essential oil is one of many plant-based aromas that are now being used in personal care products, as more consumers turn to nature’s scents, ditching petrochemical, lab-derived synthetic fragrances.

Lemongrass oil stops the mutagenic activity of many chemical compounds

When researchers at the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Thailand, put lemongrass essential oil to the test, they found that it possesses “antimutagenic properties towards chemical-induced mutation in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100.” Furthermore, lemongrass was found to inhibit, in a dose dependent manner, the mutagenicity of ten compounds: AFB1, Trp-P-1, Trp-P-2, Glu-P-1, Glu-P-2, IQ, MNNG and AF-2.

For instance, one of these chemical substances, Glu-P-1, (2-amino-6-methyldipyrido[1,2-a:3′,2′-d]imidazole) is found in the human diet as the pyrolysis products of L-glutamic acid and casein. In theory, humans are exposed to Glu-P-1 by ingestion of cooked foods containing casein. Casein is found in milk and cheese, and L-glutamic acid is produced by the body as an amino acid. The good news is that lemongrass essential oil nullifies the mutagenic potential of the pyrolysis of casein and glutamic acid. Lemongrass also inhibits the carcinogenicity of the other nine abbreviated chemicals above.

Lemongrass contains plethora of natural medicines, nutrients, electrolytes

Lemongrass oil contains a repertoire of healing components within its natural chemistry. Some of these possess antioxidant powers that help the body defend itself from degenerative diseases. These healing components include limonene, nerol, mycrene, dipentene and methyl heptenone. Geranoil and citronellol give lemongrass its bug repellent properties.

Lemongrass, along with many healing plants, synthesizes its own medicines, which are more suitable to the human body. It’s these natural medicines within the plant oil that make it such a powerful antiseptic, insecticidal and anti-fungal powerhouse. Like other healing plants, lemongrass contains a wide spectrum of medicines that the body can utilise more effectively without producing nasty side effects. Of course, too much of a good thing can be toxic, and too much lemongrass (as with anything) could potentially be poisonous, so common sense and good judgment should be taken when using this herb.

On a dietary level, lemongrass is rich in folate, which is a necessary B-vitamin, especially for mothers trying to conceive. This nutrient is vital for the process of cell division and DNA synthesis. Miscarriages and neural tube defects in the unborn baby are more common for women whose diets are low in folate.

Lemongrass can also be counted on to provide niacin, pyriodoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamins A and C. Lemongrass also contains a healthy amount of zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Its invigorating smell is indicative of its ability to invigorate the circulatory system. It not only contains the nutrients important for healthy blood and overall heart function, but it also contains the electrolytes sodium and potassium for maintaining proper blood pressure levels.

The revitalizing scent and properties of lemongrass essential oil can be used in massage, reflexology and spa treatments, to help relieve the body of aches, stress and exhaustion. When combined with eucalyptus and peppermint oil, lemongrass provides great relief for the sinus passages, helping treat a sore throat and the symptoms of allergies and inflamed sinuses. It can also be used medicinally in herbal teas.