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Uplifting Lemongrass

Contact Author Cathy Christensen February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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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

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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.

Spa products also benefit from the fragrant oil-regulating benefits of this popular grass. Thai Hot Stem’s Herbal Hot Packs are scented with lemongrass, plai and kaffir lime, and detoxify while helping to alleviate aches and pains. Enjoy the scent of the Tucson, Arizona-based Westward Look Resort’s signature Sonoran lemongrass and lavender hand and body lotion. Another offering is available from CBI Laboratories—the Sole Relief Foot Scrub, which provides relief and refreshment through the use of lemongrass essential oil. Bio Jouvance Paris’s Clarifying Day Cream features witch hazel and lemongrass to help stabilize the production of sebaceous oils. The Orange + Lemongrass Foaming Cleansing Lotion from Body Bistro brings relief and comfort to sensitive skin. Bioelements’ Custom Blend Botanicals—Clogged Pore Inhibitor can be added to many of the brand’s products, and contains pure horsetail and lemongrass extracts to keep skin clear and normalize sebum production.

Clean and crisp

A treat for both the palette and the skin, lemongrass offers an escape from the everyday. It’s clean, crisp flavor and scent complement culinary delights, comforting beverages, and soothing spa products and treatments. Incorporating this exotic, yet common herb will give a lift to your spa menu.

Related Content



Spa Cuisine: Lemongrass Quick Facts

Quick Facts

  • One cup of lemongrass has 66 calories, 0 grams of fat, 17 grams of carbohydrates and makes up 30% of the recommended daily amount of iron.
  • Lemongrass oil is the volatile oil distilled from the leaves of the grass.
  • Lemongrass is one of the aromatic grasses that were common in the Holy Land and referenced in the Bible.
  • Cymbopogon nardis, a close relative of lemongrass and commonly known as citronella, is a popular ingredient used to repel insects.
  • Supposedly, illness ranging from gastric irritability to cramping can be relieved by adding a fraction of a drop of lemongrass oil to a sugar cube.
  • Lemongrass oil can relieve joint pain for those who suffer from arthritis.

Spa Cuisine Recipe: Sautéed Channel Mussels

Sautéed Channel Mussels

From the Bath House Spa at New Park Manor, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire

4 1⁄2 pounds live mussels, cleaned


2 shallot onions, finely chopped

4 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon rapeseed or vegetable oil

13 ounces canned coconut milk

Handful of chopped fresh coriander

Sea salt

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add the chopped shallots, lemongrass, ginger, chilies and garlic, and gently cook until soft but not browned. Then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

2. Add mussels to the pan, cover and cook for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times. Make sure that all mussels have opened.

3. Stir in the chopped coriander and salt, if needed.

4. Serve in a large, warmed bowl with lime wedges and fresh crusty bread.

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