Talahib Grass: Potent Anti Cancer Herb
Cymbopogon Citratus or Simply "Talahib"
They're everywhere in deep Asia, especially in vacant lots in both cities and rural areas. The air carries their light-weight seeds so that they quickly spread like wildfire. In my childhood nobody paid attention to them, but today more and more people seek them out for their healing and health benefits. They're supposed to cure cancer.
We call it "Talahib" in deep Asia, but scientifically it's called Cymbopogon Citratus. In English it's lemon grass. And it's probably due to its sour taste that it was given "lemon" as its first name. There are 55 types of lemon grass, and I believe what we have is the taller one, often standing at 2 meters high. It's called Citronella grass and grows mostly in Indonesia.
They say if you boiled lemon grass, the brew is good as an anti cancer drink. This was discovered in 2006 when lemon grass or Talahib was seen to trigger apoptosis in cancer cells. Simply put, Talahib or Cymbopogon Citratus molecules called citral can zero in on cancer cells, give them a natural death, and leave good cells unharmed. I just wonder, why don't they do more studies with lemon grass and develop it as an approved and official treatment for cancer, like chemotherapy is? Why not an anti cancer Cymbopogontherapy?
The brew is also used as tea, soup, or even curries. At the same time, citronella oil can be used for aromatherapy and even as an all-natural insect repellent. But I've always seen Talahib used as tea by poor rustic old folks and practitioners of Yoga.
Most people usually just burned talahib grass, thinking it to be nothing but a nuisance weed sucking up nutrition from the soil. But then some folks started using the leaves as baskets and other native handicrafts. Soon, some local businesses started gathering them and producing souvenir items out of them.
Some produce dermal soaps out of lemon grass and is said to work perfectly to smoothen skin and get rid of wrinkles. Some say it's good for acne cure and for treating oily skin. It remedies athlete's foot and too much perspiration. All these healing and curing properties is said to be due to its high pythochemical content. Aside from citral, the wonder cancer-busting molecule, lemon grass also has limonene (antiseptic and anti-microbial quality), geraniol (cleansing property responsible for its anti-acne and oiliness quality), and antioxidants.
To think that some decades ago, this tall weed was hated by everybody because deadly snakes like hiding in it. Nobody knew how super-useful lemon grass was (well, few appreciate its benefits even today). Most people would still pull them out from their roots and just burn them, all that healing potential up in smoke. Well, at least burning them would shoo insects and mosquitoes away--but then again,think of the damage to the ozone layer.
Well, back to the handy use of its leaves, some farmers can make mats of them and apply them as temporary walls for shanties and even roofs for huts. Some old ladies in the countryside produce native fans and bags and wallets out of them, but mostly just for fun. If further developed, they can be turned into lucrative souvenir crafts.
Lemon Grass Refreshment?
When I still practiced Yoga, we were fond of gathering talahib grass, boiling it, and using the lemony flavor for cooking or preparing refreshing cold and nutritious drinks. We didn't know how nutritious lemon grass was then (I was just a first year high school student and there was yet no internet for quick researches). All we knew was that it had some healing qualities--we always believed that anything from plants had healing benefits. So we drank them.
If you want to try a refreshment concoction from talahib, simply prepare an orange drink using fresh oranges, put in some lemon grass extract (from boiled lemon grass), add some honey to taste, and throw in some ice cubes. In cooking, use the extract for a sour flavor in your Sinigang soup.