Food safety questions are the most common topics during pregnancy. A healthy diet plays a significant role in our overall well-being and health. While there are stages where we need to mind what we eat – pregnancy is one among them. There are many questionable foods and eating lemongrass during pregnancy is one among them.
Though many foods contribute to the development of a baby and your overall well-being during pregnancy, there are a few foods that doctors and experts recommend you avoid. In that case, what should you do when you find lemongrass in food during pregnancy?
This article will answer all your questions regarding consumption of lemongrass during pregnancy. First,
Also known as citronella, lemon grass is a plant with a fresh lemony aroma and citrus flavor. This is grass that widely grows and is used in tropical regions. Owing to the presence of a mild citrus flavor (lemon) it has its name Lemongrass.
If you are a food lover, you may also have doubts about consuming lemongrass in Thai food during pregnancy as this is a popular herb and is used in many Asian cuisines. Many tropical countries use this as a culinary herb or a medicinal herb. One of the most prevalent ways to enjoy lemongrass is by consuming tea.
Related Reading: Lemon Tea During Pregnancy- Benefits, Risks And Precautions
Though lemongrass has much medicinal usefulness and is beneficial to ones who consume it, during pregnancy consumption of lemongrass can harm your health and the unborn baby. According to a source, lemon grass contains two compounds, citral, and myrcene, that have been shown to cause birth defects1.
Lemongrass should not be confused with lemon, as lemon is considered safe for pregnant women. Myrcene, when consumed in high amounts during pregnancy, can harm the fetus’s skeletal development and can even result in miscarriage. When you consume a high dose of lemongrass during pregnancy, it may even stimulate menstrual flow by rupturing the fetal membrane, which may, in turn, lead to miscarriage2.
It is also found that lemongrass can impede cell multiplication, resulting in the fetus’s weak growth.
Lemongrass contains antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds such as luteolin, glycosides, quercetin, kaempferol, elemicin, catechol, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid. Lemonal or citral, which is believed to be its main component, has antifungal and anti-microbial qualities3
Related Reading: 11 Foods That Give You Energy While Pregnant
Lemongrass is also a storehouse of essential nutrients with many health benefits. It is a source of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, and B vitamins, folate, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and iron – all of them playing a crucial role during pregnancy4.
Lemongrass leaves are high in crude fiber, a type of dietary fiber. This makes the herb’s carbohydrates content high. Though this is widely used in many essential oils and you might be tempted to smell lemongrass during pregnancy, it is recommended you avoid oils in early pregnancy because they could potentially cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in its early developmental stages5.
Listed below is the nutritional value of lemongrass6.
|Total lipid (fat) (g)||0.02|
|Carbohydrate, by difference (g)||1.21|
|Calcium, Ca (mg)||3.12|
|Iron, Fe (mg)||0.39|
|Magnesium, Mg (mg)||2.88|
|Phosphorus, P (mg)||4.85|
|Potassium, K (mg)||34.7|
|Sodium, Na (mg)||0.29|
|Zinc, Zn (mg)||0.11|
|Copper, Cu (mg)||0.01|
|Manganese, Mn (mg)||0.25|
|Selenium, Se (mcg)||0.03|
|Vitamin A, IU (IU)||0.29|
|Carotene, beta (mcg)||0.14|
|Carotene, alpha (mcg)||0|
|Cryptoxanthin, beta (mcg)||0|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid (mg)||0.12|
|Pantothenic acid (mg)||0|
|Vitamin B-6 (mg)||0|
|Folate, total (mcg)||3.6|
|Vitamin B-12 (mcg)||0|
|Folic acid (mcg)||0|
|Folate, DFE (mcg_DFE)||3.6|
|Fatty acids, total saturated (g)||0.01|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated (g)||0|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated (g)||0.01|
Health Benefits Of Lemongrass During Pregnancy
Lemongrass offers many health benefits and is also used as a natural remedy for digestive issues, neurological problems, and to treat high blood pressure. It is believed to be a good source of antibacterial and antifungal properties. The extract from lemongrass is used in the making of fresh scents in many soaps, candles, disinfectants, and insect repellants.
Lemongrass has many active ingredients that give overall health a positive effect. However, it also contains certain substances such as myrcene, which could cause potentially harmful effects in pregnancy when taken in high doses. As stated, myrcene, when consumed in high doses, affects the proper fetus’s bone development and can even result in a miscarriage.
Likewise, there are a few health benefits of lemongrass which is why people call it a healthy food.
1. Lemongrass promotes digestion
Stomach-related issues are common problems in pregnancy. The antiseptic compounds present in lemongrass can kill bacteria in the digestive tract and promote digestion. This also helps to treat digestive problems like constipation, indigestion, stomach spasms, cramps, bloating, and diarrhea.
Lemon grass helps in the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and helps you confound atherosclerotic plaque buildup. Also, lemongrass comes with anti-atherosclerosis and anti-cholesterol properties which help absorb the extra cholesterol from the body. Also, due to its high potassium value, it helps in regulating blood pressure levels8.
Stress and mood swings are common problems encountered by pregnant women which can be fathomed only by themselves.
To calm the stressed mind and relieve anxiety and depression many women prefer using essential oils as they believe smelling lemongrass during pregnancy will improve their mood as lemongrass essential oil has a soothing smell that alleviates depression, anxiety, and mood swings and also promotes good sleep9.
Related Reading: Early Pregnancy Anxiety – 5 Causes And 6 Tips To Cope
It is believed that lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties against pain due to the presence of essential oil in lemongrass called (citral).
A study has indicated its effectiveness in relieving inflammatory pains.
Lemongrass contains properties that aid in calming the overworking nerves and muscles of the body. Due to its sedative properties, lemongrass also improves the quality of sleep along with increasing sleep hours. As we know sleep deprivation is a common issue during pregnancy, many consume lemongrass tea or use lemongrass essential oil for better sleep.
Due to its antiseptic properties, lemongrass helps to prevent and treat infections. Antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects are high in lemon grass when applied topically. The research was undertaken on fungal infections and inflammatory skin conditions in mice that showed promise as an effective treatment10.
What you eat matters most for your well-being and it is much more important when you are pregnant. While the nutrients you consume have a direct impact on the growing fetus, the foods you eat can also hurt your baby. Some certain herbs and supplements are off-limits until you deliver – with lemon grass being one among them.
Lemongrass in Thai food during pregnancy when consumed in small quantities might not pose much danger.
However, Lemongrass, in herbal or oil form, is dangerous during pregnancy because it contains two compounds, citral, and myrcene11.
Listed below are some of the adverse effects of consuming lemongrass during pregnancy.
1. Lemongrass can cause allergy
Depending on how lemongrass is used, it can determine what type of allergic reaction the individual will experience. One can have the usual food allergy symptoms such as bloating, gas, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The skin will become itchy, and irritated and develop eczema or hives12.
Related Reading: Soy Sauce During Pregnancy- Safety And Potential Risks
Lemongrass seems to trigger menstrual flow and thus there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage in pregnant women13.
According to a source, an aqueous extract of lemongrass was shown to reduce blood glucose and lipid profile levels. If you have diabetes, use caution when taking lemongrass as it may lower your blood sugar proving it to be unsafe during pregnancy14.
Though there are many apparent health benefits of lemongrass, many studies and researchers have found that it is not safe to use lemongrass in any form during pregnancy15.
Lemongrass is considered safe if used in small amounts. However, if it is used in excess, it may cause the following adverse effects:
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
- Increased urination
Similarly, lemongrass essential oil is used in aromatherapy to freshen the air, reduce stress and anxiety, and soothe the stressed mind. Experts suggest that lemongrass, in herbal or oil form, should not be consumed during pregnancy as it contains compounds like citral and Myrcene which can have adverse effects if consumed during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 8 Essential Pregnancy Care Tips During Winters
Risks Of Using Lemongrass Oil During Pregnancy
People have used lemongrass oils as a natural, holistic treatment for ailments for many years. Though the substances present in this essential oil can relieve pregnancy aches and pains, there are many factors you need to know before sniffing raw lemongrass during pregnancy, or smelling lemongrass during pregnancy during each trimester of your pregnancy.
Below are the risks of using lemon grass oil during pregnancy.
1. Can cause miscarriage
Ingesting lemongrass oil during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, lead to preterm labor, or negatively affect your fetus. However, both inhalation and topical application of essential oil that has been properly diluted is considered safe during pregnancy.
Proper dilution is the foremost thing one must know before using essential oils. Diluting them lowers your risk of adverse reactions. On the other hand, incorrect dilution could cause harmful effects on your fetus.
Other risks for the fetus
- abnormal bone development
Lemongrass is a common addition to many tea flavors. Knowing that lemongrass is not safe during pregnancy, does this mean giving up all lemongrass products, or are small amounts okay? Though drinking a nice warm mug of lemongrass tea during pregnancy seems tempting, it can provide a concentrated amount of citral which is best to be avoided in pregnancy.
Related Reading: 10 Teas That Are Best Avoided During Pregnancy
Though herbal teas are often thought to be the best options to consume during pregnancy to avoid caffeine intake, experts suggest lemongrass tea be avoided. Many women also prefer Lemongrass and ginger tea during pregnancy to avoid morning sickness. However, this also needs to be avoided considering the growing fetus.
Alternatives To Lemongrass
Lemongrass is quite a popular flavor note in lots of dishes, especially in Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. However, if you want to include lemongrass in food during pregnancy, however, refrain owing to the risk associated with it, we have the below options for you.
The best lemongrass substitutes are
- Lemon Verbena
- Kaffir Lime Leaves
- Mint Leaves + Lime Juice + Ginger + Sugar
- Lime Zest + Lemon Juice + Kaffir Leaf
- Lemon Zest + Arugula
- Lemon Balm
Lemongrass has a bounty of benefits both for health and the skin. However, during pregnancy, stay away from concentrated lemongrass forms such as oils.
The effects of many herbs-oils and supplements on their effects on pregnancy are largely unknown. However, it is best to consult your doctor before use if you’re not sure about using lemongrass during pregnancy.