Growing wild in Jamaica is an herb called Fever Grass, or Lemon Grass. This herb, which forms large bushy plants full of long, skinny leaves — just like a grass — has so many beneficial properties that it is rapidly becoming a hot production item in Jamaica.
Jamaicans have long known that boiling some fever grass in water, then drinking the resulting tea causes one to perspire which can break a fever. Fever grass tea has been a part of the Jamaican bush tea (teas which are made from leaves of various bushes) lineup for as long as humans have been living on Jamaica, but when you add brown sugar and honey, it makes a delicious after-dinner treat. At just about any Negril restaurant you can order lemon grass tea for a healthful aperitif.
Some chefs and many Jamaicans also use it for seasoning food. It adds a wonderful lemony essence to the food, so it’s just perfect when used to flavor soups, curries, seafood, chicken, vegetables and fruit. Since it helps with digestion, including it in food is always beneficial as well as tasty.
The leaves of the fever grass plant contain oil, and that oil can be extracted and used for many medicinal purposes. Added to a bath it helps treat fevers that way, or the oil can be used to ease muscle pain, headaches, and even aids in increasing circulation. The aroma is a powerful therapy too, all on it’s own.
The oil of lemon grass is additionally finding use in organic cleaning products and personal care products. It has been found to have antimicrobial (kills bacteria) and antifungal properties, so it can be used as antibacterial hand soap and to treat athlete’s foot and acne among other things. Because it improves circulation it’s used in a lot of facial toners and hair products too.
All in all, the benefits of Jamaican fever grass are just too numerous to mention already, and more uses are being found every year. For an herb that grows wild wherever it can find a foothold, that’s a pretty good thing, and helpful to the Jamaican economy too.