WHETHER in jest or from proven experience, it is common to offer tea as a solution in Jamaica for small personal or health issues.
One such offering is fever grass or lemon grass which is usually ingested as tea to start one's morning or to relieve stomach pains.
Lemon grass got its name as it was commonly used to relieve fever symptoms and smells similar to lemons. The plant has grass-like leaves, which are harvested and brewed for tea. Also referred to as citronella, the oil extracted from the leaves can be used as medicine, which is either applied to the skin or inhaled as aromatherapy.
Nutritionist Janique Watts stated that the brew or oil can reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety, lower cholesterol, increase immunity therefore lowering risk of infections, improve oral health, increase red blood cell count, and relieve bloating.
Tea is the most known form to ingest fever grass, and, “is the safest way to extract the oils as this preserves its natural chemical construct. It is best to use the woody, dry parts of the herb and add it to boiling water for five minutes and then allow it to sit and cool before drinking,” Watts said.
She also stated that it is, “usually safe to ingest, however not recommended for use by pregnant women as it induces menstrual flow and this can cause miscarriage”.
The plant is used worldwide in various ways. Some people chew on the stalk to help maintain dental health, [and] some mix the herb with other herbs for added flavouring.
It is used in Thai dishes as well. The fresh yellow portion of the herb is used and boiled in the liquid portions of the meal. However, when intended to be eaten, the yellow stalk is cut thinly and then put through a food processor for further refinement.