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Uplifting Lemongrass

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: June 4, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Originating in India and widely used as an herb in Asian and Caribbean cooking, lemongrass also brings its tempting aroma and skin-caring properties to the spa.

Known as Cymbopogon ciratus, lemongrass is a tall, perennial grass with a lemony flavor that can be dried, powdered or used fresh. It commonly is used in teas, soups and curries, as well as to complement poultry and seafood, and its light flavor blends well with garlic, chilies and cilantro.

Lemongrass also is utilized as a medicinal herb—rich in citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel, lemongrass is said to aid in digestion, as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches. Candles, soaps and perfumes capitalize on its fresh scent, as well.

In the kitchen

Normally used in small amounts, the entire stalk of the grass can be sliced very fine and added to soups. Its bulb also can be bruised and minced in a variety of recipes. Select stalks appear fresh, not dry and brittle. Lemongrass often is used to complement seafood. At the Maroma Resort and Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico, one of the spa cuisine entreés includes poached grouper and lemongrass. In another main seafood dish, the Pantages Anti-Aging & Longevity Spa in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, features Thai Shrimps with Lemon Grass. At The Cliff House Resort & Spa in Ogunquit, Maine, Broiled North Atlantic haddock is served with a pleasant lemongrass-infused Chardonnay sauce. Also see Sautéed Channel Mussels, courtesy of the Bath House Spa at New Park Manor, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire.

In the spa

As a natural ingredient that normalizes overactive oil glands and features a heavenly aroma, lemongrass often is used as a component in spa services and products. During the Gentleman’s Total Rejuvenation Package at Holtz Spa in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the Sports Massage is followed by a eucalyptus, peppermint and lemongrass steam. Another menu item that focuses on the herb’s aromatic powers is the aromatherapy add-on Detox—which detoxifies, drains and eliminates during massage treatments and includes lemongrass essential oils—at The Spa at Marco Island Marriott, in Marco Island, Florida. At the Banyan Tree Spa in Bangkok, the Royal Banyan includes Banyan Herbal Pouches that are filled with lemongrass, cloves and coriander, as well as a Lemongrass & Cucumber Rub. Enjoy a Lemongrass Mini Pedispa Treatment at The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, California, or the Bamboo Lemongrass body treatment at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida.