AUSTRALIAN researchers have discovered native lemongrass is as potent as aspirin in relieving headaches and migraines, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports.
Scientists at Griffith University looked at 30 plant species used by Indigenous Australians to see which stacked up in the medicine world.
Native lemongrass or cymbopogon ambiguus – not the Asian kind commonly found in Australian supermarkets – had the most potential for medicinal benefits and the most potency, the five-year study found.
Researcher Dr Darren Grice from the Institute for Glycomics said the study validated the plant’s therapeutic values.
“Headaches and migraines cause abnormal activities in our bodies, such as altering our serotonin levels and interfering with the normal function of our blood platelets,” he said.
Platelets clump together for wound repair but they can also form life-threatening internal clots, starving the brain of oxygen and causing strokes.
“We tested extracts of the plant on human blood platelets and one fraction showed strong biological activity,” said Dr Grice.
“It was caused by the compound eugenol in the native lemongrass plant, which is significant as the compound showed similar activity to aspirin.
“The compound inhibits platelets clumping together and the release of serotonin.”
Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and cognitive functions including memory.
Dr Grice said most traditional medicines had not been studied in-depth and many plants had unknown therapeutic values.
“Nature’s medicines hold enormous potential to cure health problems and traditional medicines are a source of good leads for new scientific discovery,” he said.
Dr Grice said they would not look at marketing the product commercially but the lemongrass would be best consumed if heated in boiling water.
The findings were reported in the most recent edition of the academic journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The study was conducted by Professor Lyn Griffiths, Dr Grice and Dr Kelly Rogers.
Source: Stephanie Bedo, Gold Coast Bulletin in Herald Sun, March 6 2010, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/australian-lemongrass-is-as-good-as-aspirin-for-headaches-researchers-find/story-e6frf7kf-1225837634511