A few years ago, a friend who has since moved away gave me a Lemongrass transplant. She is from Africa, Zanzibar to be exact, and she had so much of it growing right outside her house. I put it in a pot where it has grown, died back and come up again for a number of seasons. We separated a bit and put it into a garden bed where it has flourished as well.
I haven’t really used it much over this time. I’ve made the odd pot of tea and also a few smudge stocks in this time period but I have never really valued it- of that I want to be clear. I think this is due to a number of factors- one, that the work I do with Red Earth Wildcrafted and on my path as an herbalist, I have become laser focused on bioregion, native plants, invasive plants and weeds! And two- all of the herbals I have that I use for research and materia medica projects do not have more than a cursory sentence of information on lemongrass.
I was blind to it, and I see how that relates to my life and my experience of it. Think about a person in your life- someone who is rock solid to you. Sometimes they can be invisible to you. You rely on them so much that they just become a fixture who is quite frankly taken for granted. Sound familiar?
That was me with lemongrass. I’ll tell you what changed it. It was a book recommendation- my husband wanted this book so badly but I really wasn’t feeling it. I happened across it at Half Price Books in Austin during one of my weekends at herb school so I picked it up for him. Lo and behold, there was an actual section on lemongrass and I have been using it more earnestly and with appreciation since.
I’d like to do a little showcase on Lemongrass as an herb:
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Antibacterial synergist
- Fevers, coughs and colds
- Promotes perspiration to help break a fever
- Aids in excretion of phlegm.
- Especially suitable for children
- Stimulating beverage that is caffeine free
I have experimented with lemongrass in the following ways so far- a tea blend for Red Earth Wildcrafted that I adore during the winter (our Respira! Blend with lemongrass, hibiscus and shiso), as a steam when I was feeling super congested, aromatic smudge sticks and braids, infused oil for massage and also adding into spicy Thai soups like Tom Yum or in green and red Thai curries.
I would like to experiment further with the root, infused into honey and in medicinal syrups. It really is a delicious plant!
If you have lemongrass, I hope this inspires you to use it and if you don’t, I hope it inspires you to start!
*the book I mentioned is Rainforest Remedies by Rosita Arvigo, D. N. and Michael Balick, Ph.D.
If you are a plant person, you will be surprised about the similarities between plants in the same genus as plants we have growing commonly in the U.S.