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Category: Herb Spotlight

Herb spotlight: Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Herb spotlight: Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

She’s got more than just a lemon zing!

I’ve walked by my big pot of lemon grass everyday this summer, multiple times a day. But it isn’t until THIS day that my heart called to give a little ‘shout out’ to this special plant. Perhaps it’s the fact that the was covered in snow from our first snow fall of the season; a reminder that each gardening day here beyond September 1st is a gift from the gardening gods.


Against all odds:

Part of why I adore lemon grass so much is because it really shouldn’t be able to grow here at 8300 feet in the mountains of Colorado. Generally growing wild and abundantly across south east Asia and beyond, this tender perennial and tropical loving plant isn’t really a fan of high and dry climates. But thanks to Tammi Hartung of Desert Canyon Farm, in Canon City, Colorado, her adapted and incredible lemon grass is what I grow here at Spirit Horse. I keep lemon grass well watered through the warm summer months and bring her inside during the cold winter. She is worth it!

Lemon grass is a good friend. Her delightful lemony aroma is full of citral, i.e. citronella, hence why it is used in insect repellents, but it does more than fight bugs! It tastes deee-lish! I harvest lemongrass year round. Most ‘authorities’ will say only use the lower half of the stalk. I use the whole thing! Be sure to select whole, flat leaves and only use the parts that are vibrant and strong. Remove any dead, wilted, or woody parts.

Known in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine as being supportive for the digestive system, lemon grass is also used to treat colds and menstrual challenges. In Dr. Sharon Tilgner’s book, “Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth”, she suggests blending lemon grass with yellow dock, alfalfa, dandelion, and nettle to create a blood building formula. She states that lemon grass provides iron as well as assists with the absorption and assimilation of iron. Enjoyed in Thai soups, curries, and more, research is now showing that lemon grass is supportive for fighting cancer and has a host of other health benefits. I enjoy lemongrass in herbal tea, such as Spirit Horse Herbals Windhorse green tea herb infusion. It tastes delicious with rose, lavender, and many other herbs, especially bitters, giving the overall flavor a nice lemony zing!

Herb spotlight:: Oregon grape root (Mahonia repens)

Herb spotlight:: Oregon grape root (Mahonia repens)

For the past 5-years I have walked and played alongside oregon grape root in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It’s an abundant and beautiful plant that graces the forest floor and intertwines its roots among aspen and pine trees, uva ursi, arnica, aster, and so much more. Today was the first day though that I headed out with the intention of harvesting oregon grape root for medicine. And I had a specific client I was harvesting for, too!

My big ‘ol pup has been suffering from an acral lick granuloma for many years now. I’ll report on that journey and process in another post, but suffice it to say today, it has been quite the journey. For the last 3 ½ months I have been working with Bernie on a very specific healing program to see if we can lick this granuloma (pun TOTALLY intended!) once and for all.

Between herbs, antibiotics, acupuncture, chiropractic, cheer-leading, prayer, trial and error, and lots of support from very caring humans, Bernie is close to fully healing his leg. Goldenseal and other anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-septic herbs have been a huge part of the program. But all along I’ve had this Knowing that oregon grape root, the very plant that Bernie and I have walked amongst so many times in the woods, would be very helpful as part of an ally in our program. Today was the day we went harvesting!

Bernie would like you to know that he was on the look-out, too! And that he found some great things. And ROLLED in them! Gotta love those dogs~

Here’s some more information on this incredible herb.

About oregon grape root:
Oregon grape root contains the alkaloid berberine which is also found in Goldenseal.
Oregon grape is a great alternative to the endangered Goldenseal and grows abundantly in the forest near me.
The species I am going to work with is Mahonia repens. It grows small and low to the ground in sub-alpine environments such as the Sangre de Cristo’s. Other varieties such as the Mahonia fremontii can grow up to 10-feet tall. No luck for me! I have to hunt and dig around for this prized little plant.

Parts used: root bark

I’m am working with Oregon grape root and Bernie for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, alterative properties. It supports liver congestion which is probably one thing Bernie is dealing with for lots of different reasons. It is a blood purifier, and is a bitter for the digestive tract which will be helpful to help move all of that lingering, low-level, yucky infection OUT! It has a specific picture working with wet, inflamed, mucous like issues. In Dr. Sharol Tilger’s book, “Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth”, she states that it is specific for low grade internalized heat or infectious conditions. That is Bernie all the way!

This plant grows wild and it is often used in cultivated gardens. Consider bringing some into your own garden, or getting to know her in the wilds near you. I’ve made it into a tincture and I’ll be sure to report back with the progress of Bernie and oregon grape root.

Is your dog suffering from a lick granuloma? Have you tried everything under the sun and still can’t figure out how to support him or her? Please feel free to contact me and share your story with me. I’d love to be able to support you with some of my ‘tried and true’ experiences. Here is to healing!