Ode to Lemongrass

   
Even here in this picture of part of my garden earlier in the year, the lemongrass is in the background, second stage to the Artemesia ludoviciana I was trying to capture.

  
 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)

Herbal actions:

  • Diuretic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Refrigerant
  • Expectorant 
  • Stimulant 
  • Antibacterial synergist

Uses:

  • 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.

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