Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub or subshrub growing to 2–3 m high. The 8-cm-long, glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful scent reminiscent of lemon when bruised (hence the Latin specific epithet citriodora—lemon-scented).
Sprays of tiny purple or white flowers appear in late spring or early summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F), although the wood is hardy to −10 °C (14 °F). Due to its many culinary uses, it is widely listed and marketed as a plant for the herb garden.
What Is Lemon Verbena Oil?
Lemon verbena oil is derived from lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora Palau), a plant from the Verbenaceae family and is native to South America, specifically Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Uruguay. The plant was introduced to Europe in the 17th century. By the 18th century, it was grown in the Mediterranean region and at the same time brought to North America.
People started cultivating lemon verbena primarily for culinary purposes. Its leaves, either fresh or dried, are used to add a lemony flavor to dishes. Because of its strong citrusy aroma, just half the amount of the usual lemon herbs used is enough.
The essential oil of lemon verbena, when extracted, contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidant compounds, including verbascoside, nerol, geraniol, and citral. The most common use of lemon verbena outside of herbal pill supplementation is as an herbal tea. The leaves can be dried and then steeped for a powerful boost to many of your organ systems and metabolic processes.
Extraction and physical properties
The freshly harvested leaves of Lemon Verbena are used to extract essential oil through steam distillation. Dried leaves are also used to extract essential oil. The essential oil has a lemony, fresh aroma and is pale yellow or olive in color.
The chemical composition of Lemon verbena essential oil is rich with volatile oils such as borneol, limonene, geraniol, linalool, citral, curcumene, myrcenene, and flavonoids consisting of apigenin, luteolin, and six hydroxylated flavones along with methyl esters like eupa folin, hispidulin, eupatorin, and salvigenin.
Benefits of Lemon Verbena Oil
1. Weight Loss
While tea is often suggested for those on a diet, lemon verbena seems to be particularly effective. There are only 2 calories per serving and the rich mix of organic compounds has an effect on the body that reduces the “munchies”, thereby preventing you from snacking between meals and compromising your diet. Also, the important metabolic effects of lemon verbena tea can help to increase fat-burning by optimizing various bodily processes.
2. Protect Your Muscles
This is one of the most unique qualities of this herb, and one that you don’t often find in simple teas. When you choose to use lemon verbena tea as an exercise supplement, research has shown that the high antioxidant potential decreases damage done to the muscles during the workout, without inhibiting your body’s development of additional muscle mass and increased stamina. This makes lemon verbena the perfect pre-workout companion!
3. Anti-rheumatic and Anti-arthritic
Arthritis and injuries can both wreak havoc on our joints and mobility. As we age, or when we get injured, it can be difficult to ever feel whole again because our joints are in constant use and rarely have time to heal properly. Lemon verbena has been directly linked with reduced joint pain and aching, and faster recovery times for joint-related injuries, primarily due (once again) to the impressive antioxidant performance of this unassuming little herb.
When our bodies break down and we get sick, the culprit responsible for the breakdown is usually oxidative stress. Oxidative stress affects our bodies due to free radicals that attack our organs and compromise our immune system. The immune system becomes overwhelmed when it has to fight against cell mutation and illness from a stress rattled body. Fortunately, lemon verbena essential oil has been found to lower oxidative stress levels by promoting white blood cell activity, which is vital to fighting illness. Lemon verbena essential oil takes a two-pronged approach; it not only directly addresses the immune system, but it also improves our overall health by helping us to relax and to lower stress levels.
5. Digestive Issues
Lemon verbena tea also has certain soothing qualities that have been traditionally relied on to relieve stomach issues and indigestion in many different cultures. This herbal preparation has anti-spasmodic qualities that help it calm the stomach and eliminate cramping and bloating, which can lead to discomfort and more serious gastrointestinal issues. Although earlier we mentioned the weight loss properties of lemon verbena tea, it also helps to regulate the appetite (which might mean stimulating it, in some cases), leading to healthy nutrient intake to optimize your metabolic processes.
6. Reduce Fevers
In traditional South American medicine, lemon verbena was trusted as a diaphoretic, meaning that it stimulated sweating, and was therefore used to break fevers and speed healing for those suffering from inflammatory illnesses.
7. Anxiety and Nerves
The antioxidant compounds found in lemon verbena can also have an impact on the hormonal balance in the body. While this effect isn’t dramatic, it has been known as a calming beverage and is prescribed for those with nervous afflictions or chronic stress, as it can ease the mind and calm the body.
The final beneficial attribute of lemon verbena is its expectorant properties. This means that drinking the tea can loosen up congestion in the respiratory tracts and help eliminate the phlegm and mucous in that system. Phlegm can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens to stick and grow, so drinking a tea that can help get rid of that unwanted material is definitely a good way to improve your immune system.
Lemon verbena essential oil is great for those of us who have bodies that are suffering from the normal wear and tear of living. We are constantly using our joints and muscles, and after a while, their functioning can start to break down and suffer from inflammation. Those who suffer from arthritis or who simply have achy muscles can benefit from inflammation reducing properties of lemon verbena essential oil. The antioxidant properties of this oil have shown to directly reduce joint pain, speed up the healing process of joint-related injuries, and to help improve mobility.
Lemon verbena essential oil provides numerous benefits to treat skin ailments and to beautify your complexion. Lemon verbena essential oil, used in a compress, can help reduce puffiness, particularly around the eyes. This herb is also known to cleanse and tone the skin. If you are looking for an emollient, lemon verbena essential moisturizes and softens the skin, giving a radiant glow and a more youthful appearance. Add this essential oil to your daily skin cleaning routine to add balance, beauty and moisture to skin ravaged by the elements.
Uses of Lemon Verbena
This oil helps with nervous conditions, especially those that manifest as digestive complaints and is a wonderful liver tonic, while it has a softening effect on the skin and help to reduce puffiness as well.
- Burners and vaporizers:
- In vapor therapy lemon verbena oil can be used for nervous conditions, when trying to deal with stress, or when feeling down and depressed.
- Blended massage oil or in the bath
- As a blended massage oil or diluted in the bath, lemon verbena oil can help with digestive problems and is a boost for liver functions, insomnia and the nervous system, helping to ease respiratory problems, such as bronchitis and sinus congestion. It is also used to tone the skin. Keep the possible sensitization of your skin in mind when adding it to your bath or massage blend.
- Cream or lotion:
- in a cream or lotion it can help to reduce puffiness and soften the skin, but use with care as it can sensitize the skin and cause phototoxicity.
- Herbal Tea:
- It gives a number of healing benefits, including alleviating digestive track spasms, fortifying the nervous system, lessening feverish colds and easing stress and tension.
- Sports Massage:
- Lemon verbena essential oil protects against muscle damage. Studies have found that people that took lemon verbena as a supplement with their regular diet minimized the amount of muscle damaged suffered during workout. Used in sports massage, lemon verbena essential oil promotes the healing of weak connective tissues, reduces lactic acid build up, and tones muscles. If you consistently work out and suffer from achy muscles, this will not only work as a pain reliever, but also prevent any further damage from the trauma of sports related injuries.
- By adding a couple drops of lemon verbena essential oil, you can add a lovely, bright scent to your beauty products. Add a few drops to your unscented moisturizers to double its moisturizing properties while also boosting your mood. Lemon Verbena can give you a positive mental attitude, preparing you for the rest of the day.Lemon verbena oil also has antibacterial properties, making it a great addition to unscented soap or adding a couple drops for a cleansing, spirit-lifting bath.
- Put a couple drops of lemon verbena essential oil into your diffuser and burn that midnight oil! This oil will help you remain focused and open your mind up to absorbing and retaining information. Make sure not to use citrus essential oils in an ultrasonic diffuser. Citrus essential oils can damage parts in ultrasonic units.
In order to make a flavorsome lemon verbena herbal tea, one must steep the leaves of lemon verbena in hot water to enhance the aroma and herbal properties of the herb. However, it is important to note that the tea will also be slightly sedative. On the positive side, it is profoundly calming and soothing. It does a lot of wonders such as aiding in regulating women’s menstrual cycle along with the symptoms of PMS. It also helps to lessen fever and colds with the aid of its antipyretic properties. It brings an extremely soothing impact and helps cure indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea. You can also buy ready made lemon verbena tea bags here.
Research into the Therapeutic Effects of Lemon Verbena Essential Oil
Up to the time of writing, there have been several scientific studies exploring the effectiveness of lemon verbena essential oil.
1. As an anti-parasitic
Research carried out in South America which was published in 2012 found that oral administration of lemon verbena essential oil had a significant effect of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi in mice reducing parasitemia or the number of parasites by 85%.
T. cruzi is the cause of the serious, life threatening illness Chagas disease. Researchers concluded that lemon verbena essential oil at a dose of 250mg was an effective treatment for the T. cruzi parasite and also observed a reduction of inflammatory cell infiltration in the heart.
2. Helicobacter Pylori
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria which grows in the digestive system that can attack the lining of the stomach. After some time, this bacterium can cause ulcers within the small intestine and can even lead to more serious complications like stomach cancer.
It is very common with around two-thirds of the population thought to carry it. Although greater access to clean water and better eating habits is having some effect, it is still a cause for great concern worldwide. Research conducted on mice in Japan observed that lemon verbena essential oil destroyed the helicobacter pylori virus.
The same research showed that unlike antibiotic treatment, the subjects did not become resistant to the essential oil treatment. The researchers concluded that lemon verbena essential oil was a promising potential new treatment against helicobacter pylori.
3. Dengue Fever
Dengue is a common and acute illness transmitted by mosquitoes which causes hemorrhagic fever. The disease varies in severity from mild to very severe and is responsible for more death and illness worldwide than any other single viral disease.
Between 50 and 100 million dengue infections happen each year in tropical regions causing around 25,000 deaths.Research conducted by a Brazilian team in 2010 found that the essential oil of lemon verbena prevented the replication of the dengue virus prior to cell absorption though no antiviral effects occurred after absorption.
The results indicated that the essential oil had an inhibitory effect during cell absorption and penetration but not after the virus has already penetrated he cell. The authors concluded that topical application of the oil to prevent infection immediately following mosquito bites should be explored further.
Candida is a common fungal infection caused by yeast responsible for the greatest number of worldwide yeast infections. Lemon verbena essential oil is one of a number of essential oils that holds a great deal of promise in the treatment of candida.
A study published in 2005 reviewed the effects of 35 medicinal plants for their anti-candida effects and found that 13 of them including lemon verbena were highly effective.
Studies have shown that lemon verbena essential oil is effective against several strains of candida including candida albicans, candida glabrata and candida parapsilosis and that this and other essential oils offer a promising future treatment possibility.