Capim-santo is a medicinal herb cultivated in almost all tropical countries, including Brazil. It is one of the most used herbs for various applications and is called by different names, such as: lemongrass, lemongrass and false lemongrass.
This plant is commonly confused with lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis ). However, they are two different herbs and in this article you understand a little more about the differences between them.
But when the subject is the common grass ( Cymbopogon citratus ), it is possible to affirm that it has applications as varied as the many names it receives. It has medicinal, cosmeceutical and culinary uses. In addition, the essential oil of lemongrass is citral, being a mixture of isomers, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry for the synthesis of ianones and vitamin A, accompanied by a little myrcene.
It also has a proven calming and spasmolytic action, which is attributed to the presence of citral, considering the analgesic activity due to myrcene. But these are not the only effects of this plant. Therefore, Home Remedy has prepared an article so that you can learn more about the benefits and properties of this herb and how to grow it at home.
Capim-santo: medicinal properties and benefits
Capim-sanjo is an herb known nationally for its medicinal properties. However, its use is more homemade and taking into account popular knowledge, so the herb is not yet used in the manufacture of medicines. ( 1 )
In medicinal use, crabgrass is especially used to combat worms, such as nematodes. Its essential oil acts against bacteria. In addition, five of its components inhibit blood clotting.
It is popularly used in the form of poultices to treat arthritis pain and in baths to relieve muscle pain. In fact, this method is mainly used in some countries in Africa and Asia. ( 2 )
Meanwhile, essential oil is used in cosmetics such as scented oils, shampoos, soaps, soaps, deodorants and lotions, especially lotions for oily skin. But it is also applied in the production of insecticides.
In addition, it is added to massage oils and used to relieve back pain , tendonitis and rheumatic pain. Another great benefit is the application of diluted oil in the treatment of athlete’s foot.
The essential oil, which can be extracted from the leaves of the lemongrass, showed antioxidant and fungitoxic properties . ( 3 ) That is, the essential oil, when applied in the form of steam, helped to inhibit the growth of various types of fungi in the laboratory.
Another benefit of lemongrass is that, when combined with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, the effect in rats was similar to that of the drug alone. However, no gastric complications were reported, which is common with this type of medication. ( 2 )
What are the nutritional properties of the herb?
The amount of a cup of lemongrass tea, which is the equivalent of 67 grams, has only 66.3 calories. However, most of it is made up of water and less than 15 grams of the essential oil, which is rich in citral and other substances.
The lemongrass leaves also have several vitamins such as vitamin A, C and those that are part of the B complex. For example, riboflavin, known as B2, Niacin or B3, B6 and folate, popularly called vitamin B9.
Capim-santo is a plant that has different uses and is traditionally applied in the treatment of various health problems. Therefore, it can be used to improve digestion, nervousness, hypertension and cases of swelling.
Depression, agitation, insomnia and stress can also be treated using this plant. In addition, lemongrass is a health ally in the fight against skin infections, cough, asthma , phlegm, headache , fever and sweating.
It also works as a mild analgesic and works to reduce seizures, diarrhea, rheumatism and muscle tension. It is also depurative , increases the production of breast milk and fights liver and kidney diseases. ( 7 )
As it is present in different parts of the world, the herb has variations in its use in folk medicine according to each region. For example, in Argentina the tea is used to treat sore throats, discomfort from overeating and in some cases to induce vomiting.
In Brazil, tea or smothering, a process that leaves the leaves infused in hot water, is used to treat anxiety problems and as a potent analgesic. In India, the fresh leaves are used as a natural repellent for snakes and the essential oil is ingested with hot water to treat gastric problems.
In other regions of Southeast Asia, the mixture is considered an emmenagogue. That is, it induces menstrual flow. Finally, it is used as a flavoring or fragrance, which is also marketed. ( 7 )
Is lemongrass effective for treating anxiety?
This benefit is due to the fact that the essential oil extracted from the herb leaves has an effect called GABAergic . To better understand, the acronym GABA is used as an abbreviation for the expression gamma-aminobutyric acid, in English.
This, in turn, is a neurotransmitter that acts to control arousal and anxiety. Thus, the essential oil of the common grass would act on this neurotransmitter and would help to maintain normal levels. Thus reducing the effects of anxiety on the body. ( 5 )
This same effect is visible in the increase in the quality of sleep, caused by the ingestion of tea or the essential oil of the lemongrass.
Does lemongrass bring benefits to the hair?
Many people publicize the benefits of common grass for hair and scalp health and indicate the use of tea, as this supposedly would help in hair growth. However, there are no studies that denote the efficiency of the herb to aid hair growth.
Despite this, tea or essential oil can be effective in treating dandruff caused by the action of some types of fungi. This is because it has citral as its main component, which prevents the proliferation of these forms of life. ( 2 )
However, its use directly on the skin is not indicted. Especially when there is a need to go out in the sun, as some substances can cause burns and other injuries to the surface of the skin. ( 8 )
Method of preparation: tea and juice
To prepare tea or juice, it is best to use fresh leaves, collected at the time of preparation.
Take between 4 and 6 fresh leaves and wash thoroughly. Cut the leaves into small pieces in a very clean cup. Pour the freshly boiled water over the cut leaves. Then cover the cup and let it blush.
Never boil the leaves as they lose much of their effect. To prepare half a liter of tea, use 20 leaves. This amount makes up to 4 cups. So you can take it two to three times a day. If you need to, you can take a little more.
juice with lemon
In a blender, crush 40 leaves of the lemongrass with 1 liter of cold water and then strain. Add the juice of 2 lemons and sugar to taste. Consumption must be immediate.
Either in the form of tea or juice, it is recommended for use in people over 12 years old, due to its anxiolytic and sedative action. Also do not use during pregnancy as high doses can cause miscarriage.
In addition, capim-santo can potentiate the effect of sedative drugs, lowering blood pressure and even causing fainting.
Even being effective in the treatment of skin problems caused by fungi and the action of bacteria, the essential oil of the lemongrass should not be applied in these areas. It can cause severe burns due to the action of citral. ( 8 )
Where to find and how to plant crabgrass?
Capim-santo is a plant native to regions with hot and humid climate. For this reason, it has adapted well to several tropical countries, especially Brazil.
Therefore, it can be easily found in herbal fairs and stores dedicated to natural products. Due to its popularity, it is also common to find it in the form of teas, separated into sachets for infusion. In addition, the plants can be found in botanical houses or gardens and flowerbeds throughout Brazil.
One characteristic is that the capim-santo almost never produces flowers and, consequently, it does not bear seeds. Therefore, the best way to acquire a seedling is through tillers, the name given to new plants that grow alongside the adults.
In relation to cultivation it is not a very demanding herb. Therefore, it does not require special care on a daily basis. The only recommendations are that it be placed in a place with a lot of direct sunlight and constant watering.
Also, it is important to take care of the soil. Therefore, it must be frequently fertilized with organic matter and always kept moist, but not soaked. Thus, the plant grows, develops faster and acquires a greater amount of essential oil in fresh leaves.
Another point is that it is not used to the cold, so the growth of the leaves can be compromised in regions with temperatures below 20ºC. Therefore, they can wither during the winter and sprout again during the spring. ( 9 )
Care must be taken when picking up the leaves, as their edges are sharp and can cause small cuts to your fingers.
Are lemongrass and lemon balm the same thing?
Common grass is often confused with another medicinal plant known as lemon balm. However, they are different species and therefore have different medicinal properties.
This confusion happens because the term lemon balm is popularly used to designate a series of plants, but they do not belong to the same family. The one that is most confused with the capim santo is the Melissa officinalis .
This plant is a creeping herb and also very aromatic. The difference between it and Cymbopogon citratus are the leaves. While the lemongrass has long leaves, the lemon balm has small, oval leaves.
Another medicinal plant often confused with the lemongrass is the tree lemon balm, also called true lemon balm. The alba Lippia , as it is called in scientific circles is a small shrub that can measure up to 2 meters high and unlike the holy grass is native to South America.
What is the common grass?
Common grass is a herb native to Southeast Asia, more precisely to India. However, it has managed to adapt to diverse tropical climate regions around the world, being mostly cultivated in Asia, South America and parts of Africa.
This plant belongs to the poaceae family , one of the most numerous plant families. In addition, it is in the same group of plants as grass and bamboo, considered a type of perennial grass with a tropical climate.
The main characteristics of Cymbopogon citratus , the herb’s scientific name, are the long, thin and rough-textured leaves. These same parts have a grayish green tone and a citrus scent.
It usually grows in small clumps and has a long lifespan. The capim-santo can measure between one and two meters in height and it multiplies by throwing new seedlings next to the adult plant.
The aroma that is given off from this plant is similar to that of lemon. Therefore, in English-speaking countries it is known as lemongrass or lemon grass. This odor is mainly due to citral, a substance with a strong citrus odor that has antibacterial properties. ( 2 )
For all these reasons, capim-santo is widely used by the industry in the manufacture of cleaning products, cosmetics, perfumes and disinfectants. Likewise, it is used as a flavor additive in some processed foods, where it poses no risk when consumed by humans.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the production of capim-santo in Paraná surpassed 280 tons. ( 9 ) The gross product is mainly directed to industries that use it as a raw material.