Consuming Lemongrass During Pregnancy: Benefits & Side Effects

Eating Lemongrass While Pregnant – Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
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The food you eat determines your health. What you eat matters, and it matters even more if you are expecting a child. If you are pregnant, your diet must have changed for the good, and you must think twice before putting anything in your mouth. Certain foods help in the growth and development of the baby, but then there are other foods (herbs and supplements included) that can be detrimental to your baby’s health and hence should be strictly avoided. Today we will talk about one particular herb – lemongrass. Read on to know whether or not it is safe to consume lemongrass during pregnancy.

What Is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass, also known as citronella, is a plant that can grow up to 2 meters. It is native to Africa, Asia and Australia. Lemongrass is used as a herb in cooking, and its leaves and oil are used to make medicine.

Many people associate ‘lemongrass’ with ‘tea.’ However, it is used as an ingredient in food preparations for its antibacterial and preservative properties and for the fresh lemony taste that it imparts to the food.

Is It Safe to Consume Lemongrass During Pregnancy?

Lemongrass should not be consumed during pregnancy as the two compounds found in lemongrass, namely, citral and myrcene can have adverse effects on pregnancy. Mycrene, when consumed in high doses, can hamper the skeletal development of the foetus and even result in a miscarriage.

Intake of lemongrass in concentrated forms such as lemongrass tea or supplements can lead to severe complications during pregnancy. Lemongrass can be consumed in small amounts, such as in Thai dishes, where it is used as a seasoning, but it is best avoided altogether.

Lemongrass Tea

Advantages of Lemongrass During Pregnancy

Lemongrass is a herb commonly used in culinary and medicinal applications. During pregnancy, lemongrass has several advantages that can promote overall health and wellness. Here are six advantages of lemongrass during pregnancy:

1. Reduces Nausea

Lemongrass has natural antiemetic properties that can help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Consuming lemongrass tea or adding lemongrass to meals can help alleviate morning sickness.

2. Boosts Immunity

Lemongrass is rich in antioxidants that can help boost immunity during pregnancy. The herb contains vitamin C, which is vital in protecting the body from infections and illnesses.

3. Aids Digestion

Lemongrass has digestive properties that can help ease digestive discomfort during pregnancy. Consuming lemongrass tea after meals can help reduce bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues.

4. Reduces Swelling

Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling during pregnancy. This can be particularly beneficial for pregnant women who experience swelling in their legs and ankles.

5. Regulates Blood Pressure

Lemongrass can help regulate blood pressure during pregnancy. The herb contains potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension.

6. Relieves Stress

Lemongrass has calming properties that can help relieve stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Consuming lemongrass tea or using lemongrass essential oil in aromatherapy can promote relaxation and improve overall mental health.

Possible Side Effects of Lemongrass in Pregnancy

Consuming lemongrass during pregnancy may have harmful effects, but its effects have not been empirically studied on humans. The advice to avoid lemongrass in high doses is based on logical conjectures and studies conducted on rats.

1. Effects on the Foetus

  • Lemongrass extracts can fasten cell death and hamper cell multiplication causing poor growth.
  • Lemongrass can cause skeletal abnormalities.
  • It could result in stillbirth.

2. Effects on the Mother

  • Lemongrass has long been used in herbal medicine to bring on menstruation. In large quantities, it could induce the rupture of the foetal membrane, causing a miscarriage.
  • Lemongrass affects blood sugar regulation. If the woman has type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes and takes too much lemongrass, it could lead to a sudden decrease in her blood sugar levels, which can cause tiredness, blurry vision and even dizziness.
  • Lemongrass could trigger mild allergic effects, including swelling in the throat, rashes, and chest pain.

Alternatives to Lemongrass Tea

As mentioned earlier, lemongrass tea in concentrated forms can lead to severe complications in pregnancy. So if you are pregnant and routinely consuming lemongrass tea, it would be wise to substitute it with other kinds of teas that are safe during pregnancy. We suggest the following two alternatives:

  • Ginger Tea: It boosts immunity, aids digestion, and helps alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women.
  • Raspberry Tea: It is made from the leaves of the red raspberry bush. It is traditionally recommended during pregnancy. However, scientific research on the subject is limited. It supposedly helps improve the uterus’s health and prevents premature and overdue births and other complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

To substitute the taste of lemongrass, the following would make the best additions to your herbal tea:

  • Lemon Zest: The easiest and possibly a suitable replacement for the lemongrass flavour is zest or lemon. For a closer replication of the taste, mix one teaspoon of lemon zest with a paste of one arugula leaf and use it in your tea.
  • Lemon Juice: You can also use lemon juice or lemon drops for flavour.

Is It Safe to Use Lemongrass Oil While Pregnant?

Using lemongrass oil for massaging the skin or as incense for aromatherapy is not strictly prohibited, but it is best avoided. Essential oils work by being absorbed into the skin when used for massage. As the molecules in essential oils are quite small, the fear is that they may cross the placenta and enter the baby’s circulation system.

Essential oils are also very concentrated, so avoiding using them during pregnancy is best. If you do want to use lemongrass oil, it is suggested that you dilute it with carrier oil or water. You can mix 1-2 drops of lemongrass oil with a carrier oil and use it for massaging purposes.

Lemongrass Oil

Risks of Using Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil may lead to health complications if you are allergic to it. You may notice the following symptoms even if you are not allergic to it.

  • Skin irritation
  • Burning sensation
  • Development of rashes (hives)
  • Swelling

How to Use Lemongrass Oil During Pregnancy?

Lemongrass oil is a versatile and popular essential oil that can provide numerous benefits during pregnancy. Here are three creative ways to use lemongrass oil during pregnancy:

1. Massage Oil

Lemongrass oil can be used as a massage oil to ease muscle pain, reduce swelling, and improve circulation during pregnancy. Dilute a few drops of lemongrass oil in a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil and massage it onto your skin, paying special attention to areas like the back, hips, and legs. This will not only help alleviate physical discomfort but can also promote relaxation and reduce stress.

2. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy with lemongrass oil can help alleviate stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Add a few drops of lemongrass oil to a diffuser or a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Alternatively, you can apply a drop or two of lemongrass oil to a handkerchief or tissue and inhale it whenever you need to relax.

3. Bath Oil

Taking a warm bath can be an excellent way to relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and promote relaxation during pregnancy. Adding a few drops of lemongrass oil to your bathwater can enhance these benefits. Mix a few drops of lemongrass oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil or bath salts and add it to your bathwater. Soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes and enjoy the soothing benefits of lemongrass oil.

You must be careful as some people may develop allergic contact dermatitis after using lemongrass oil topically.

Things to Remember

One should be aware of various aspects regarding lemongrass and pregnancy. Here are some points you should remember if you plan to use lemongrass (in any form) during pregnancy.

  • Before using lemongrass oil for pain, do a skin patch test to determine your allergy.
  • Lemongrass or other essential oils should always be diluted with other carrier oils. Otherwise, it may burn the skin.
  • If you have diabetes or low blood sugar, do not drink lemongrass tea as it may lower your glucose levels.
  • Since the effects of lemongrass are the strongest on the liver and kidneys, one should always consult a doctor before consuming any lemongrass products. It is best avoided if you suffer from liver or kidney-related illnesses or have suffered from them in the past.
  • Be careful if you are allergic to certain herbs. Some people may be allergic to lemongrass, and it can cause skin irritation, hives, or even anaphylaxis. Therefore, it is essential to be cautious while using lemongrass when pregnant, especially if you have a history of allergies or are sensitive to herbs and spices.
  • Despite having numerous benefits, lemon grass can be potentially harmful if over-consumed during pregnancy. Excessive consumption of lemongrass can cause digestive problems, like diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and nausea. Therefore, it is essential to consume lemongrass in moderation and not go overboard.
  • When purchasing lemongrass, ensure that it is fresh and of high quality. Avoid using wilted, discoloured lemongrass with a strong smell, as it may indicate that it has been contaminated or is not fresh.
  • Whenever possible, choose organic lemongrass to minimise the risk of exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals. Organic lemongrass is grown without synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms, making it a safer and healthier choice for pregnant women.


1. Can Lemongrass Help to Reduce Morning Sickness, Heartburn and Other Pregnancy Symptoms?

While there is limited scientific research on the effects of lemongrass during pregnancy, some traditional medicine practitioners believe that lemongrass can help alleviate nausea and heartburn due to its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. However, consulting a healthcare provider before using lemongrass or any other herbal remedy during pregnancy is essential.

2. Does Lemongrass Help With Labour and Delivery?

Some believe that lemongrass oil can help stimulate contractions and promote more efficient labour. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, and it is not recommended to use lemongrass or any other herbs to induce labour without medical supervision.

3. Should You Avoid Eating Thai Food in Pregnancy Because of Lemon Grass?

It is unnecessary to avoid Thai food containing lemongrass during pregnancy if it is prepared safely and hygienically. However, paying attention to the overall quality and hygiene of the food consumed during pregnancy is crucial to avoid potential risks to the mother and fetus.

Lemongrass is a potentially harmful agent during pregnancy; the easiest rule to follow is to avoid it altogether. You must check with your doctor if you want to use it during pregnancy.


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2. Anggraini. FD, Abidah. SN, Rahayu. EP, Nisa. F; Effect of aromatherapy blend essential oils (lemongrass and lemon) on sleep quality in pregnant women’s third trimester; Bali Medical Journal; ; September 2022

3. Bleasel. N, Tate. B, Rademaker. M; Allergic contact dermatitis following exposure to essential oils; PubMed;; August 2002

4. Patel. S; Essential oils: A pain management alternative for labor and delivery; UTSouthwestern;; April 2018

5. Parsons. M, Simpson. M, Ponton. T; Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: safety and efficacy; PubMed Central;; September 1999

Also Read:

Herbal Teas When Pregnant
Is It Safe to Eat Mint in Pregnancy?
Consuming Wheatgrass during Pregnancy
Eating Curry Leaves (Kadi Patta) in Pregnancy

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