Use of Lemon Verbena in Herbal Medicine
Category: Sport Tincture
Part used: Leaves
What is Lemon verbena?
Lemon verbena is a flowering plant that is native to South America, and is known for its familiar lemon-scented aroma. The plant grows to around 2 metres tall (6ft), and its strongly scented leaves can be harvested in late summer to make herbal tea.
It’s botanic classification is Aloysia citrodora, and it is also sometimes known as lemon beebrush(1).
What are the Constituents of Lemon verbena?
The volatile oil present in the leaves is chiefly made up of two constituents, geranial and neral(2): lemon-scented compounds that have sedative and mood-enhancing effects on the central nervous system. The plant also contains citral, cineole, limonene, mucilage, tannins, and flavonoids.
Lemon Verbena vs Lemon Balm
Lemon verbena leaf, like other lemon-scented plants, such as Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), has a gentle relaxant, chill out activity, and is commonly used to ease anxiety, physical tension, and headache. It also stimulates digestion, helping with symptoms such as indigestion, wind and bloating, colic and cramps.
History of Using Lemon Verbena
Traditionally it was thought that the medicinal property of Lemon verbena was to alleviate digestive ailments.
The Lemon verbena plant was first introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers in 1784, and the infusion became a popular drink(3). The citrus aroma of the oil from the Lemon verbena leaves was popular in the European fragrance industry: it was used in soaps, air fresheners, and perfumes(4).
Aside from an infusion, the lemon verbena leaves can also be used as a flavouring in food and drink. Perhaps the most well-known use of the Lemon verbena plant is in the popular Peruvian soft drink Inca Kola.
The Benefits of Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena is commonly used to treat digestive illnesses like diarrhoea and indigestion, due to its reported antispasmodic properties(5). Tinctures and infusions using Lemon verbena leaves contain large amounts of polyphenols, which have been shown to help control intestinal inflammation(6).
Reduces Muscle Damage & Fatigue
There is mounting evidence to show that supplementing Lemon Verbena helps to reduce fatigue and muscle damage after exercise.
A 2018 placebo-controlled clinical trial found that the herb speeded up recovery after intensive exercise. The authors noted that those in “the lemon verbena group benefited from less muscle damage as well as faster and full recovery. Lemon verbena extract receiving participants had significantly less exercise-related loss of muscle strength”(7).
In a separate study, researchers found that supplementing Lemon verbena to 15 male participants during a 21-day intense running program decreased the signs of muscular damage without blocking the cellular adaptation to exercise(8).
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Several studies have shown that taking Lemon Verbena can reduce the oxidative stress on the body, particularly from physical exercise as highlighted earlier. Research has highlighted that the antioxidant activity of Lemon verbena infusions are actually higher than many commercial herbal infusions and antioxidant drinks(9).
A study conducted on rats showed that verbascoside, a major bioactive compound present in Lemon verbena, protected the rats against oxidative stress(10).
Lemon verbena’s Side Effects
Most studies have shown that lemon verbena is safe. One study has shown that lemon verbena, like some other essential oils, can cause skin sensitivity(11).
If you are taking any prescription medication, check with your doctor or healthcare specialist before using lemon verbena. There is currently no research to determine if lemon verbena is safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to Take Lemon verbena
A ready-made Lemon verbena tincture is likely to be much more concentrated than an infusion, so the extract is often added to water. Our own Lemon Verbena Tincture is blended with Ginseng to help recovery from strenuous exercise.
Our vegan and non-alcoholic herbal tinctures are made from a blend of purified water and quality herbs and can be sipped or diluted in water.
A hot infusion of the leaves to make tea makes a good after dinner or night-time drink - its soothing, calming effect promotes effective digestion and enhances sleep quality, while a chilled infusion makes an excellent cooling drink in warm weather. Scientific studies suggest that Lemon verbena has antioxidant, anxiolytic, neuroprotective, anticancer, analgesic, antimicrobial, and sedative activity(12).
You can create your own Lemon verbena tea by infusing 1 tsp of dried, or 2 tsp of fresh leaves in hot water. Let it steep for up to 15 minutes, you may want to add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten if necessary.
- Armada, Juan, and Alfredo Barra. “On Aloysia Palau (Verbenaceae).” Taxon, vol. 41, no. 1, 1992, pp. 88–90. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1222497.
- Lira PD et al. Characterization of Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora Palau) from Argentina by the Essential Oil. J of Ess Oil Res, 2008;20(4):350-3
- Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia Of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments. United Kingdom, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2016
- Groom, N. New Perfume Handbook. 2nd ed., Springer, 1997.
- Pascual, M E et al. “Lippia: traditional uses, chemistry and pharmacology: a review.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 76,3 (2001): 201-14. doi:10.1016/s0378-8741(01)00234-3
- Romier, Béatrice et al. “Dietary polyphenols can modulate the intestinal inflammatory response.” Nutrition reviews vol. 67,7 (2009): 363-78. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00210.x
- Buchwald-Werner S et al. Effects of lemon verbena extract (Recoverben®) supplementation on muscle strength and recovery after exhaustive exercise: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutrition. 2018 Dec;15(1):1-10.
- Funes, Lorena et al. “Effect of lemon verbena supplementation on muscular damage markers, proinflammatory cytokines release and neutrophils' oxidative stress in chronic exercise.” European journal of applied physiology vol. 111,4 (2011): 695-705. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1684-3
- Abderrahim, Fatima et al. “The antioxidant activity and thermal stability of lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) infusion.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 14,5 (2011): 517-27. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.0102
- Funes, L., et al. ‘Correlation between Plasma Antioxidant Capacity and Verbascoside Levels in Rats after Oral Administration of Lemon Verbena Extract’. Food Chemistry, vol. 117, no. 4, 2009, pp. 589–98. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.04.059.
- Buckle, Jane. Clinical Aromatherapy (Third Edition). pp. 73-94
- Bahramsoltani R et al. Aloysia citrodora Paláu (Lemon verbena): A review of phytochemistry and pharmacology. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Aug 10;222:34-51.