Fresh Lemon Grass Drink Causes Apoptosis to Cancer Cells

Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 6:30 pm 28 comments

This is an article by Allison Kaplan Sommer 02, April 2006

(apoptosis) noun: a type of cell death in which the cell uses specialized cellular machinery to kill itself; a cell suicide mechanism that enables metazoans to control cell number and eliminate cells that threaten the animal’s survival.


Fresh lemon grass fields in Israel become Mecca for cancer patients


A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.
Israeli researchers find way to make cancer cells self-destruct -Ben Gurion University
At first, Benny Zabidov, an Israeli agriculturalist who grows greenhouses full of lush spices on a pastoral farm in Kfar Yedidya in the Sharon region, couldn’t understand why so many cancer patients from around the country were showing up on his doorstep asking for fresh lemon grass. It turned out that their doctors had sent them. ‘They had been told to drink eight glasses of hot water with fresh lemon grass steeped in it on the days that they went for their radiation and chemotherapy treatments,’ Zabidov told ISRAEL21c. ‘And this is the place you go to in Israel for fresh lemon grass.’
It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The research team was led by Dr. Rivka Ofir and Prof. Yakov Weinstein, incumbent of the Albert Katz Chair in Cell-Differentiation and Malignant Diseases, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at BGU.

Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.)

According to Ofir, the study found that citral causes cancer cells to ‘commit suicide: using apoptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death.’ A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt the cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.

The BGU investigators checked the influence of the citral on cancerous cells by adding them to both cancerous cells and normal cells that were grown in a petri dish. The quantity added in the concentrate was equivalent to the amount contained in a cup of regular tea using one gram of lemon herbs in hot water. While the citral killed the cancerous cells, the normal cells remained unharmed.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Planta Medica, which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press.

Why does it work? Nobody knows for certain, but the BGU scientists have a theory. ‘In each cell in our body, there is a genetic program which causes programmed cell death. When something goes wrong, the cells divide with no control and become cancer cells. In normal cells, when the cell discovers that the control system is not operating correctly – for example, when it recognizes that a cell contains faulty genetic material following cell division – it triggers cell death,’ explains Weinstein. ‘This research may explain the medical benefit of these herbs.’

The success of their research led them to the conclusion that herbs containing citral may be consumed as a preventative measure against certain cancerous cells. As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needed to be explored further, in the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer-destroying properties of citral.

That’s why Zabidov’s farm – the only major grower of fresh lemon grass in Israel – has become a pilgrimage destination for these patients. Luckily, they found themselves in sympathetic hands. Zabidov greets visitors with a large kettle of aromatic lemon grass tea, a plate of cookies, and a supportive attitude. ‘My father died of cancer, and my wife’s sister died young because of cancer,’ said Zabidov. ‘So I understand what they are dealing with. And I may not know anything about medicine, but I’m a good listener. And so they tell me about their expensive painful treatments and what they’ve been through. I would never tell them to stop being treated, but it’s great that they are exploring alternatives and drinking the lemon grass tea as well.’

Zabidov knew from a young age that agriculture was his calling. At age 14, he enrolled in the Kfar Hayarok Agricultural high school. After his army service, he joined an idealistic group which headed south, in the Arava desert region, to found a new moshav (agricultural settlement) called Tsofar. ‘We were very successful; we raised fruits and vegetables, and,’ he notes with a smile, ‘We raised some very nice children.’

On a trip to Europe in the mid-80s, he began to become interested in herbs. Israel, at the time, was nothing like the trend-conscious cuisine-oriented country it is today, and the only spices being grown commercially were basics like parsley, dill, and coriander. Wandering in the Paris market, looking at the variety of herbs and spices, Zabidov realized that there was a great export potential in this niche. He brought samples back home with him, ‘which was technically illegal,’ he says with a guilty smile, to see how they would grow in his desert greenhouses. Soon, he was growing basil, oregano, tarragon, chives, sage, marjoram and melissa, and mint just to name a few.

His business began to outgrow his desert facilities, and so he decided to move north, settling in the moshav of Kfar Yedidya, an hour and a half north of Tel Aviv. He is now selling ‘several hundred kilos’ of lemon grass per week, and has signed with a distributor to package and put it in health food stores. Zabidov has taken it upon himself to learn more about the properties of citral, and help his customers learn more, and has invited medical experts to his farm to give lectures about how the citral works and why.

He also felt a responsibility to know what to tell his customers about its use. ‘When I realized what was happening, I picked up the phone and called Dr. Weinstein at Ben-Gurion University, because these people were asking me exactly the best way to consume the citral. He said to put the loose grass in hot water, and drink about eight glasses each day.’

Zabidov is pleased by the findings, not simply because it means business for his farm, but because it might influence his own health. Even before the news of its benefits were demonstrated, he and his family had been drinking lemon grass in hot water for years, ‘just because it tastes good.’



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28 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah  |  Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Hee…didn’t realise that lemongrass caused cancer cells to ‘commit suicide’.Interesting…and i love lemongrass drink too,especially refreshing on a hot day.

  • 2. Neo  |  Tuesday 1 July 2008 at 12:10 am

    Yes, that is definitely interesting. I’m not sure about the suicide description but I get the point. The body is amazing in what it can do. Thanks for the info!

  • 3. ylle  |  Wednesday 16 July 2008 at 12:39 am

    My father is 72 years old and is currently a Dialysis patient. He has high blood pressure and had done angioplasty in 2003 and had 3 stents on his heart. He currently is diagnosed with tumour on his liver. Since he is on dialysis, he can’t consume to much water…can he take it in the form of concentrated? How to prepare it?
    Any comment is greatly appreciated

  • 4. billyteoh  |  Thursday 17 July 2008 at 12:55 am

    With dialysis water should be consumed a little at a time, maybe a mouthful every 15-20 min, instead of a lot once in an hour or two. Making the LemonGrass more concentrated is a good option.

    Is the tumour growing? Did they checked for malignancy? Usually they use Biopsy which many are against. General rules for a 72 year old, if it’s not disturbing, leave it. As tumour are accumulation of toxicity, can opt for supplement like A.C.E. (Vitamin A, C and E) can help detoxifying. Many experienced lump, growth, tumour, lymphoma disappeared after supplementing with ACE, my lymphoma disappeared.

    Milk Thistle & Dendelion are good herbs for the liver. Given the right ingredient, your body can repair itself. The option and belief is up to you.

    • 5. tyrkem  |  Tuesday 14 July 2009 at 6:45 pm

      Hello billyteoh
      I’m much interested in your claim that A,C,E could wipe out a lymp!
      If this is a true statement, it’s great news. I’ve got a very good friend in a very bad way with this disease. She’s under chemio…

      Can you pls give me a little bit more input on any trials been done and results etc.
      Thanks tyr

  • 6. Lainie  |  Sunday 27 July 2008 at 10:49 am

    I had thyroid cancer last January 2007 and had my thyroid removed with other nodes I had papillary cancer. Had radioactive iodine treatment last March, 2008. Had my bloodwork done on a regular basis and everything was negative. Had a dose of RAI and body scan which showed nothing. Had an ultrasound and it showed a node and it was found the node 5mm was thyroid cancer. They did a modified neck dissection and found some of the nodes (not all) had thyroid cancer. They are now going to do ultrasounds and bloodwork to watch me. They will not give me more RAI since thyroid cancer can be resistant to this.

    Would Lemon Grass help me. I am 60 years old and they say this is a very non agressive cancer. I would still like to know about Lemon Grass and how I can obtain it.

    Thank you. Lainie

  • 7. billyteoh  |  Sunday 27 July 2008 at 11:42 am

    With RAI, RadioActive Iodine treatment, you are suffering from hyperthyroidism. But for it to turn malignant, it’s another story. The main cause of hyperthyroidism is lack of iodine, which can be obtained from normal food like seaweed, fish and even our iodised table salt.

    I believe in your case, lack of iodine is not the only reason, there might be high toxicity in your body. Generally I would suggest:
    -Vitamin A, C and E as anti-oxidant.
    -Low sugar diet(white sugar but fruit sugar-fructose is acceptable). Sugar is known to feed cancer cell.
    -Stress free living. Find a religion and be joyous and humourous every single minute.

    If it is not acute, aggressive and not troubling, I would suggest you leave it. With the above mentioned supplements and living habits, situation may improve,

    Lemon grass versus cancer is relatively new but proven to work miraculously for the last few years. As Lemon Grass is an everyday cooking spice in the region of Asia, it is no harm consuming. Not being a cancer patient, I’m also taking it every other days, for it taste good. I smash the lemongrass pour some hot water and leave it a while. Then add some Manuka Honey(UMF) into it and add a bit more hot water.

    Lainie, which part of the world are you in? You can try getting it from China town or the Thai or Indian community. They use them a lot. Contact me if you have trouble getting it.

  • 8. Lainie  |  Monday 28 July 2008 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for your information. I found the Lemon Grass today and have had some. I let it sit in warm water and put it in a pitcher and am drinking some now. I live in New Jersey and found the Lemon Grass in an Asian food market.

    I would be interested if you could let me know how much A, C and E I should take. I take a muti vitamin and 1000 of calcium since my thyroid is out.

    I have had a lot of stress in my life especially over the past few years a divorce, marriage my husband had triple by-pass surger we have not had it easy then my thyroid cancer and now we are both out of work. I am trying to stay positive and have good dr’s who are positivee.

    Thanks again and would just like to know how much Lemon Grass to drink and also how much of the vitamins to take.


  • 9. john  |  Thursday 31 July 2008 at 4:08 am


  • 10. billyteoh  |  Friday 1 August 2008 at 8:24 am

    Hi John

    Lemon grass is an everyday spice used by Asian for ages. There’s no harm but has an acquired taste. You can dilute it to your liking. You should be able to find them from China town, Thai or Indian supply stores.

    As you can see this remedy is only 2 years since last reported. If it really act as an apoptosis, it will definitely has effect over cancer cells.

    There’s no harm trying. I’m taking it also as another beverages and love it with Manuka Honey.

    It will be great if we can get feedback on those who benefited from this remedy. Please come forward and make a comment. Thank you.


  • 11. May  |  Tuesday 5 August 2008 at 9:48 am

    The doctor found out that my relative had stomach cancer (final stage) from last 2 week only. May I know that can she still able to consume the FRESH LEMON GRASS TEA anymore ? How to prepare for this drinks ? Where can I buy Manuka Honey in Malaysia? How would the exact quantity like for her to drink ? I get to know from the internet is 8 glasses per day..

  • 12. billyteoh  |  Tuesday 5 August 2008 at 10:15 am

    If as said, lemon grass really act as an apoptosis, it will definitely has effect over cancer cells. There is no harm trying as you know lemon grass is daily spice used in Asia. If it is acute stage, your relative can consume it in replacement of water.

    What I do is.. chopped the lemon grass up and simmer it over low heat. When cool down, keep them in a jar refrigerated. Dilute to taste with hot water. If consuming it in replacement of water, use Manuka honey sparingly.

    Manuka honey with UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 18+ has its healing potency at its best. Nothing more or less. Don;t be fooled when stated UMF25, those are for external application. UMF 18 is so good that it can be apply, consumed and use as beauty mask.

    Generally, all cancer patients should control white sugar to a minimum, live a life joyously, mixed with a bunch of positive people, have faith of healing or should I say believe it is healed, even if a religion helps.

  • 13. Leong Meng  |  Wednesday 27 August 2008 at 9:16 am

    My father has esophageal cancer 2 year ago, he when for chemotherapy and surgery. But recent CT Scan shown that there is shadow at has lung, doctor say probably it is a relapse case.

    Does Lemon grass drink help and how much should he take?

    You mention that cancer patient should control white sugar intake, does Manuka Honey contain white sugar. May i know is 3 in 1 coffee, milk and sweet consider white sugar or can please advise on what are the food contain white sugar?

    I would be interested if you could let me know how much vitamins A, C and E, does this vitamins come in 3 in 1?
    Please advise on which types to buy.


  • 14. billyteoh  |  Wednesday 27 August 2008 at 5:55 pm

    In theory, Manuka Honey should not contain white sugar; but these days many unusual thing happened. 3-in-1 coffee definitely contained white sugar. The easiest thing to watch out for is the term G.I. (Glycemic Index) Low G.I. means it takes a longer time to be absorbed by the body; where higher G.I. means fast absorption rate. Therefore the higher the G.I. the more bad it does to us.

    Another way of thinking is think non-process sugar, i.e. sweetness from fruit – fructose, raw sugar versus processed white sugar.

    ACE does come in combined form, but I take them separately. Once we understand the effect of each, we can alter the dosage at different time and occasion to counter and prevent different issues. Example, extra C can prevent catching cold or flu, when extra A can improve eye stress.

    My advise is to get natural plant based nutrition, instead of vitamins or minerals which are artificially manufactured. A good supplement company must have their own farms, scientists, organic farming, good manufacturing practice and years of excellent track records. I am sure no one wants to put their lives at risk.

  • 15. Gloiz  |  Monday 24 August 2009 at 11:31 am

    I am diagnosed with Stage 0 or Invasive Ductal Carsinoma last June 26, 2009. I have undergo such minor surgery to get the tumor and have it biopsy. the result is Invasive Ductal Carsinoma In-Situ. I was scheduled for Conservative Surgery Therapy. I cancelled it because its to expensive, My Mom found this Amazing Trio (Non-Traditional Herbs)I take it for almost 1 month now. but when my friend introduce me about the lemon grass, I quickly apply it. We have much lemon grass in our backyards. My question is, how long would I take the lemon grass? It taste good especiall if it is mixed in Hot water… gloiz

    • 16. ayrene  |  Sunday 11 October 2009 at 12:53 pm

      i think you should make it a part of your daily life. I’ve been taking it for years now. Don’t you feel the energy level after taking it? It is amazing I think, though once in a while you should be prepared feeling tired and weak. We have something inside you know, just make friends to whatever you have , afterall, what we have needs to be welltoo. It might take time but we’re surely going to be well.. ayrene

  • 17. baram paz  |  Monday 7 September 2009 at 5:43 pm

    please give me more information about kemon grass-if it is effective after gastric cancer operation

    thanks baram

  • 18. ayrene  |  Sunday 11 October 2009 at 4:11 am

    I am 53 and was diagnosed with fibroid 4 years ago, i drink my lemongrass this way – 4 stalks i cut into pieces and throw it in a blender, mix 8 oz water blend it till smooth , strain and drink it upon waking up in the morning. I have been doing this for 2 years now. I think it is helping me a lot because i always have a good energy level.

    maybe now I will also try your way of steeping it in hot water and drinking it all day. Thanks to all you good people .!

  • 19. ToorseRoari  |  Tuesday 24 November 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your blogpost, keep up writing such interesting posts!

  • 20. junmaranon  |  Sunday 20 June 2010 at 6:29 am

    I like this info.

  • 21. Jan Gustafson  |  Monday 25 April 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Enjoyed the article on lemon grass.

  • 22. Quyen Ngo  |  Thursday 16 June 2011 at 3:34 am

    One of my friend’s relative has taken this lemond grass drink while (she was at the stage of liver cancer) having chemo & radiation. After 4 months, the scanning shown no sign of cancer cell. She is still living at Orange County.
    I also have Melanoma for over a year, and hope you would resend the above article to MD Melanoma Department/ Homsi Jade,MD as I have promised him to.
    With my appreciation and regards.
    Quyen Ngo
    June 16th, 2011.

  • 23. G.  |  Sunday 8 April 2012 at 12:16 am

    omg i had ascities /water rention for months in my stomach (never happen ot me before) and my legs was swollen i couldnt even walk properly i started drinking leomn grass and my stomach is as flat as a fry bake/slice bread…i was shocked out of my mind oh and i took iron pills cuz my blood had become low. tthye told me i had nyphrotic sydrome symtoms they didntt know what cuz it cuz lupus was negative every test was negative anywayz so i drank lemon grass and it really help. i startted seeing results in as litttle as one week. #200%truestory

  • 24. TLGS  |  Saturday 18 August 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Too bad this stuff is poetically good for you because I hate it. I hate the smell and taste. For some reason just about all the places here in the Philippines stuff chickens with it before roasting. Culture is amazing. Just try to eat durian.

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  • 27. Adrienner Washburn  |  Thursday 3 April 2014 at 11:11 am

    My mom is actually undergoing holistic therapy for cancer, and her doctor suggested drinking lemon grass to help with the process. So far, we’ve been seeing positive results!

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