Griffith University researchers have found native lemon grass, used by Indigenous Australians as traditional medicine, has the potential to relieve headaches and migraines.
The findings of the five-year study were reported in the most recent edition of the academic journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Research by Professor Lyn Griffiths, Dr Darren Grice and Dr Kelly Rogers has scientifically proven the lemon grass plant Cymbopogon ambiguus may be as good as aspirin when it comes to treating headaches.
Dr Darren Grice from the Institute for Glycomics said this research validated the plant’s therapeutic values.
“Headaches and migraines cause abnormal activities in our bodies, such as altering our serotonin levels and interfering with the normal function of our blood platelets,” Dr Grice said.
Platelets clump together for wound repair, but they can also form life-threatening internal clots starving the brain of oxygen and causing strokes.
“We tested extracts of the plant on human blood platelets and one fraction showed strong biological activity.
“It was caused by the compound eugenol in the native lemon grass plant, which is a significant find as the compound showed similar activity to aspirin.
“The compound inhibits platelets clumping together and the release of serotonin.”
Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions including memory, learning and has alterations in migraine.
Dr Grice said traditional medicines had not been studied in-depth and many plants had unknown therapeutic values.
“Nature’s medicines hold enormous potential to cure health problems and traditional medicines are a source of good leads for new scientific discovery,” he said.
The research project collected a range of Australian traditional medicinal plants for investigation, including Cymbopogon ambiguous from the Northern Territory.