Does Lemongrass Tea Make You Sleepy?

What is Lemongrass Tea?

Lemongrass tea is an herbal tea made by infusing dried lemongrass leaves or stalks in hot water. Lemongrass is a tropical plant that grows in many parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the tropical regions of America (source). The scientific name for lemongrass is Cymbopogon.

To make lemongrass tea, the dried leaves and stalks are steeped in hot (not boiling) water for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse. Lemongrass tea has a refreshing, citrusy flavor and aroma. It can be enjoyed either hot or chilled.

There are several popular varieties of lemongrass used for tea including:

  • Cymbopogon citratus – Most common variety used for culinary purposes
  • Cymbopogon flexuosus – Known as East Indian or Malabar grass
  • Cymbopogon winterianus – Native to Indonesia and used for essential oils

Active Compounds in Lemongrass Tea

Lemongrass tea contains many active compounds that contribute to its potential health benefits. Some of the main active compounds include:

  • Citral – This is the main active compound in lemongrass, consisting of two isomers called geranial and neral. Citral gives lemongrass its strong lemon flavor and aroma. It has demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (
  • Myrcene – This compound contributes to the sedative effects of lemongrass tea. It has muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Geraniol – This compound has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. It also contributes to the aroma of lemongrass.
  • Nerol – Nerol has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and chemopreventive activities. It enhances the fragrance of lemongrass.

Other active compounds in smaller concentrations include geranyl acetate, neral, limonene, and citronellol. The combination of these compounds is responsible for the potential therapeutic benefits of lemongrass tea.

Does Lemongrass Tea Have Sedative Properties?

Research suggests that lemongrass tea may have mild sedative effects that can promote sleep. A 1986 study published in Pharmacology Journal found that oral administration of lemongrass essential oil had a sedative effect in mice [1]. The researchers attributed this effect to possible action on the central nervous system.

The sedative properties are thought to come from citral, one of the main active compounds found in lemongrass [1]. Citral is known to act on GABA receptors in the brain which can induce calmness and sleepiness. Additionally, lemongrass contains flavonoids which may exert sedative effects.

However, human studies are limited and more research is still needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind lemongrass tea’s sedative effects.

Other Potential Benefits of Lemongrass Tea

In addition to its potential sedative effects, lemongrass tea has been associated with several other health benefits, thanks to its nutritious profile of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the top evidence-based benefits include:


Lemongrass contains citral, an anti-inflammatory compound that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. One animal study found that lemongrass essential oil demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically.[1]


Research shows that lemongrass tea has antibacterial properties and may help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. A test-tube study revealed that lemongrass essential oil was effective against a variety of disease-causing bacteria.[2]


The citral in lemongrass may also provide antifungal effects against certain fungal strains. One lab study found that lemongrass oil inhibited the growth of several types of fungus.[2]

Digestive aid

Anecdotal evidence suggests lemongrass tea may promote healthy digestion by reducing stomach issues like gas, bloating, and cramping. Some research indicates it may stimulate digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, and act as a carminative to decrease gas buildup.[3]

Possible Side Effects of Lemongrass Tea

Like any herb or supplement, lemongrass tea may cause side effects in some people, especially when consumed in large amounts. Some potential side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions like rash, itching, and swelling of the lips, face or tongue. People with plant or grass allergies should use caution with lemongrass.
  • Increased urination and hunger.
  • Dizziness and drowsiness due to the sedative effects.
  • Dry mouth.

Lemongrass tea may also interact with certain medications. According to WebMD, it can increase sedation when combined with central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines, narcotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, or alcohol. Those on diabetes medication should also use caution, as lemongrass may lower blood sugar.

Pregnant women should avoid lemongrass tea, as it can stimulate menstrual flow and may be unsafe for the fetus. Given the potential side effects, it’s best to start with small amounts of lemongrass tea to assess tolerance.

How to Make Lemongrass Tea

Making homemade lemongrass tea is simple and only requires a few ingredients:

a cup of fresh lemongrass tea

  • Lemongrass stalks – Use 2-3 stalks per cup of water. Cut off the bottom bulb and bruise the stalks to release the flavors.
  • Water – Use fresh pure water. Bring it to a boil.
  • Sweetener (optional) – Honey, sugar or stevia to taste.
  • Lime juice (optional) – For added flavor.

To make the tea:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan or kettle.
  2. Add lemongrass stalks and reduce heat to low. Let the lemongrass steep for 5-10 minutes to infuse the water with flavor.
  3. Strain the tea into cups.
  4. Add honey, sugar, lime juice or other ingredients as desired.

Let the tea steep for longer for a more concentrated flavor. Drink the tea hot or allow it to cool before drinking over ice.

Store fresh lemongrass tea in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It can also be frozen into ice cubes for longer storage.

Tips for Drinking Lemongrass Tea

There are some simple tips to follow to get the most out of your lemongrass tea:

  • Drink it first thing in the morning – Starting your day with a warm cup of lemongrass tea can help boost your energy levels and metabolism.

  • Drink it before bedtime – The compounds in lemongrass tea promote relaxation, which makes it a great evening drink to wind down before sleep.

  • Add other soothing ingredients – Try adding a teaspoon of honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, a few mint leaves, or a dash of cinnamon to complement the flavor.

  • Drink it hot or iced – Lemongrass tea can be enjoyed hot to warm you up or iced to help cool you down.

By following these simple tips, you can get the most sleep, health, and weight loss benefits from your daily cup of lemongrass tea.

Lemongrass Tea vs Sleep Medications

Lemongrass tea contains compounds that act as sedatives and help promote sleep, but is not as potent or fast-acting as prescription sleep medications. However, lemongrass tea has some advantages in terms of safety and side effects.

Prescription sleep aids like Ambien or Lunesta work quickly to induce sleep, but can cause next-day drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and other side effects. They also carry risks of dependence and addiction with long-term use. Lemongrass tea does not cause these same side effects or dependency risks.

Some studies have found lemongrass extracts to be moderately effective at improving sleep quality, but not as powerful as prescription sedatives. One study found people fell asleep just 15 minutes faster with lemongrass versus a placebo, and had improved sleep efficiency of 5% [1]. However, lemongrass tea avoids the adverse effects of medications.

For people who only have occasional sleep troubles, lemongrass tea may provide a gentle nudge toward better sleep without strong drugs. However, those with chronic insomnia are likely to achieve better results from prescription sleep aids versus natural remedies like lemongrass tea.

Other Natural Sleep Aids

In addition to lemongrass tea, there are several other natural sleep aids that may help promote sleep:

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbal teas for sleep. The flavonoids in chamomile bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, having a mild sedative effect that may help initiate sleep (source).


Lavender oil has been shown in multiple studies to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality when inhaled or applied topically. Lavender’s soothing aroma has natural sedative properties (source).


Passionflower increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that has calming effects. Consuming passionflower tea before bed may help induce a sense of relaxation (source).

Other natural sleep aids like magnesium, glycine, and CBD oil have also shown promise in improving sleep quality. However, more research is still needed on their efficacy and safety.


In summary, lemongrass tea contains compounds like citral that may have mild sedative effects. Some studies show that lemongrass essential oil promotes relaxation and induces sleep. However, the research is limited and the effects appear modest compared to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. Lemongrass tea is generally safe to drink in moderation, but could cause side effects like allergic reactions in some people. While lemongrass tea may help with relaxation and sleep onset, it should not be relied upon as a standalone treatment for insomnia. Those with chronic sleep issues should speak to their doctor about proven medical therapies. For mild insomnia, lemongrass tea can be trialled in combination with good sleep hygiene practices like avoiding screens before bed. Ultimately, more research is needed to confirm lemongrass tea’s efficacy as a sleep promoter. But with few risks, it may be a nice complementary approach alongside proper medical treatment for insomnia.

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