Lemon grass is a perennial, aromatic, tall grass with rhizomes and densely tufted fibrous roots. It has short! underground stems with ringed segments; coarse, green slightly I leathery leaves in dense clusters, terminating in a long bristly I point. The blades of the grass are about 90 cms long and 0.5 cm wide.
Lemon grass contains an essential oil. This oil is sherry coloured with a pungent taste and lemon-like odour with citral as the principal constituent. The contents of this oil varies with I the age of the grass. Fresh lemon grass contains an essential oil which has substantial amount of citral. Dry herb yields 0.4 per cent essential oil containing 72.3 per cent citral.
The grass is stimulant, tonic, aromatic, antispasmodic and a mild counter-irritant. It increases secretion and discharge of urine. Oil distilled from its leaves is used for medicinal purposes.
Lemon grass and its oil are carminative, valuable in relieving flatulence. It is given in doses of 3 to 6 drops with sugar as an emulsion. The emulsion is prepared by mixing 3 to 6 drops of common lemon grass oil with sugar.
Lemon grass is useful in strengthening the functions of stomach and promoting its action. I t is beneficial in the treatment of indigestion. Lemon grass oil also treats spasmodic affections of the bowels, gastric irritability and cholera.
The grass induces copious perspiration and brings down temperature. It also produces a feeling of coolness. Raw juice or decoction of the grass can also be taken.
An infusion of the grass, mixed with black pepper, is given in painful and difficult menstruation. Raw juice or decoction of the grass may be taken in such a condition.
The grass is used locally over rheumatic joints, lumbago and sprains. Lemon grass oil mixed with twice its bulk of coconut oil is a stimulating ointment for rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, sprains and other painful affections. In chronic cases, the undiluted oil may be used for better results. It can also be taken internally in the same manner as for fevers.
Leaves of lemon grass are useful in treating ringworm as a local application. A paste of the leaves made with buttermilk should be applied on the affected part.