Have you ever gone to donate blood only to be deferred for low iron count or blood count? Do your blood reports show that your haemoglobin levels are below normal? Well, medical doctors might prescribe iron or vitamin supplements depending on what has caused the levels to lower to get them back to normal.
But incorporation of a few dietary changes to maintain blood level naturally could also be helpful. For example, researchers say that drinking herbal teas such as lemon-grass tea and Ocimum gratissimum, for instance, can help boost blood level.
Researchers looked at the effect of drinking lemon-grass tea in 105 men and women, aged 18 to 35 years, for one month. Various blood measurements were taken before, during and after the experimental period and lemon grass tea was found to significantly increase haemoglobin levels and red blood cell count in the participants in the study.
Given the increase in level of red blood cells, they inferred that drinking lemongrass has an ability to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of our blood.
The researchers documented in the January edition of the Journal of Medicinal Food, that lemon grass ability to boost blood level was “likely due to some nutritional constituents and its antioxidant and pharmacologic properties.”
These researchers included Ekpenyong Christopher E and Daniel Nyebuk E from the College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Antai Atim B from the College of Health Sciences, University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State.
Lemon-grass, though without any connection with lemons, except that it has a strong lemon-like aroma and taste is called Kooko oba in Yorubaland, Isauri (in Hausa) and Acharaehi (in Igbo).
Food experts say lemon grass is a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and manganese; with minute traces of the B vitamins.
It is believed to have a wide range of nutritional and medicinal effects, including recovery from the common cold and flu, antibacterial, antifungal, flatulence, arthritic pain, aid digestion and fever-reducing effects. Some of these claims have been supported by animal and laboratory studies.
Meanwhile, researchers affirm that inclusion of Ocimum gratissimum, what is commonly referred to as African basil, scent leaf, “Ahigbu” (Igbo), “Efirin” (Yoruba), or Daidoya (Hausa) into diet also helps to boost blood levels, thus preventing anaemia.
The researchers said in the 2012 edition of the International Journal of Applied Basic Medical Research that African basil significantly increased haemoglobin levels and red blood cell count in male albino Wistar rats under laboratory conditions.
The researchers reasoned that African basil leaves extract contains erythropoietin-like agent(s) which is/are responsible for the increased production of red blood cells.
According to them, oral administration of Aftican basil increases red blood cell count, packed cell volume, haemoglobin level, platelet count, and the proportion of neutrophils, and also leads to decrease in platelet indices at high doses.
The study involved OE Ofem, EJ Ani, and AE Eno and was entitled “Effect of aqueous leaves extract of Ocimum gratissimum on haematological parameters in rats”.
Meanwhile, previous studies indicate that lemon-grass can be successfully used to lower blood pressure due to its diuretic effect. Researchers looked at the effect of drinking lemon-grass tea in 105 men and women, aged 18 to 35 years, for one month.
Various measurements were taken before, during and after the experimental period to ascertain the kidney’s ability to filter the blood and lemon grass tea was found to lower both the diastolic blood pressure and the systolic blood pressure in the participants in the study.
In this 2015 study published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition to ascertain the effect of lemongrass tea consumption on how well the kidney is working reasoned that its potassium content was the cause of its blood pressure-lowering effects. Potassium has long been proven for its blood pressure-lowering-effects.
Also its supply of folate, a B vitamin, to the body has continually been suggested to lower risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing homocysteine build-up in the blood.
Recent studies indicate that lemon-grass can be successfully used to treat drug resistant malaria and typhoid fever. Before now, lemon-grass has been used in local anti-malaria preparations.
For treating malaria, a cup of boiling water is usually poured over lemon-grass to make a fusion. It is then allowed to stand for about five minutes before it is strained and drank.
However to treat typhoid, Director of Pax Herbal Clinics, Rev Fr. Anselm Adodo, in his book “Nature Power For malaria” recommended that lemon-grass leaves is boiled with whole lime, grape fruits, unripe pawpaw fruits and unripe pineapples, cut garlic and bark of Alstonia bonnei (awun in Yoruba; cheesewood/pattern wood in English).
Lemon-grass helps regulate intestinal function and motility due to its anti-microbial properties. It helps to kill bad bacteria and parasites, repopulate the good bacteria in the colon, thus assisting to improve digestive-related problems like: indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, intestinal bloating, flatulence, stomach spasms, vomiting and cramps.
In one test-tube investigation, published in the medical journal Microbios in 1996, researchers demonstrated that lemon-grass was effective against 22 strains of bacteria and 12 types of fungi, thus its usefulness in the treatment of various types of skin infections such as ringworm, infected sores, acne and athlete’s foot, usually as a wash or compress.
Lemon grass is similar in properties to citronella grass and has some of the same repellant effects on insects. It can be crushed and rubbed directly onto the skin to help stave off annoying bugs. It is also an ingredient in the making of citronella candles, soaps and sprays.