Lemongrass – Asia's Wonder Herb

Ask for a bowl of Tom Yam Soup at any seafood restaurant and you cannot help but notice a stalk or two of lemongrass among the other ingredients in the bowl. Any credible chef will tell you that lemongrass is the principal flavouring ingredient in a Tom Yam Soup. In Malaysia, lemongrass or “serai” is widely used in Malay and Nyonya cooking. It is also one of the main flavouring ingredients in our local favourites of rendang, satay, curry laksa, asam laksa and nasi kerabu.

 

Lemongrass has been used in Asian cuisines for centuries. It is a widely used herb in Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan cuisines. In appropriate amounts, lemongrass not only acts to enhance the taste of food but also lends its own distinctive sensual aroma. It is often used in the preparation of marinates, curries, soups and stews.

 

In fact, lemongrass goes beyond the perimeter of culinary delights. It is also sought after for its medicinal values. It is rich in a citral, a substance that has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also contains myrcene, which is an analgesic. Traditionally, lemongrass has been regarded as a panacea for a number of diseases and used to fight fever, depression and a host of other ailments.

 

In aromatherapy, lemongrass is valued for its uplifting, energising effects and is used as an anti-depressant as well as a relaxant. For centuries it has been the closest companion in Asian homes. In ancient courts, lemongrass was central in the practice of traditional aromatherapy or “berlinggir”. Palace maidens would add on lemongrass into the complex collection of flower petals and herbs for the royal baths. It was also used as a potent balm by warriors to heal wounds sustained during a fight.

 

The delights and significance of lemongrass have been well preserved through generations of cultural practices and enhanced to this day through research and development. Today, the use for lemongrass extends to the extraction of its essential oil for fragrances and cosmetics.

 

Perhaps one of the most instantly gratifying ways of savouring the flavour of lemongrass is to brew it into tea. Just steep fresh or dried slices of lemongrass in boiling hot water and wait for the flavour to be released. Sip the tea and enjoy its benefits.

 

TRADITIONAL USES OF LEMONGRASS

Medicinal Purposes – Used as an antiseptic, analgesic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, astrigent, diuretic, deodorant, insecticide, repellant (fleas, flies and ticks), parasiticide, tonic

Blood Circulation – For the relieve of muscular pain, poor circulation, slack tissue and muscle tone, varicose veins, edema

Digestion – For the relieve of colitis, indegestion, gastroenteritis, flatulence

Genito-urinary – To relief bladder infection

Nervous Tension – For the relief of headaches, nervous exhaustion, stress related conditions, lack of concentration, mental fatigue, irritability, morning grumpiness, tiredness

Respiratory & Immune – As treatment for fevers, infectious diseases

Skin Care – As treatment for athlete’s foot, excessive perspiration, open pores, scabies, skin parasites, to combat oily skin, aging, stretch marks and as a tissue toner

Other Uses – As a repellant (fleas, lice and ticks) and as treatment for visual disorder, vertigo, jet lag

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