Lemon verbena is an amazing and often underrated herb that's highly valued for its therapeutic and health benefits. It also has a wonderful lemony aroma and refreshing flavour. Typical uses of lemon verbena are as a herb or for steeping to make a delicious lemon flavoured herbal tea.
Lemon verbena has been used for centuries, if not millennia. There's is a long history of its use in traditional medicine for treating colds, fever, anxiety, indigestion, spasms, and insomnia. It is also popular as an infusion for boosting the immune system and a natural aid for weight loss.
Read on to learn more about this fascinating herb…
In this article:
What is Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena Tea
Lemon Verbena Health Benefits
- Detox & Immunity Boost
- A Popular Natural Slimming Aid
- Reduces Stress
- Sleep Aid
- Promotes Digestion
- Reduces Muscle Damage during Exercise
- Combats Fever
- Relieves Congestion
What is Lemon Verbena?
The lemon verbena plant is a woody shrub with lance-shaped, light green leaves and small white or lilac flowers. A fully grown shrub can reach up to 2-3 metres high. When bruised, the leaves release a powerful lemony scent, from which its name is derived.
Lemon verbena has many common names. It is known as louisa, lemon beebrush, verveine citronnelle, cedrón, zitronenstrauch, or hierba luisa. Scientifically, it's known as Aloysia citrodora or (confusingly) also Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla. The multiple scientific names are due to several reclassifications over the course of history.
Of the more popular lemon-scented herbs, lemon verbena is probably the lesser known. Both lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and lemongrass (Cymbopogon) are more popular but not because they are necessarily better. A properly cultivated lemon verbena generally has a stronger lemony flavour and aroma than lemon balm or lemongrass.
Although native to South America, lemon verbena has been cultivated in Europe for centuries. It was first brought over by the Portuguese and Spanish in the 17th century. At the time, it was mainly cultivated for its oil but became less popular due to the discovery of the more economical lemongrass.
Nowadays, lemon verbena is still widely cultivated, mostly for its oil (used in cosmetics and candles) and for consumption as a herbal tea.
Lemon verbena makes a deliciously refreshing and balmy infusion. It's soothing and relaxing, naturally caffeine free and full of health-boosting properties.
The infusion is made by steeping fresh or dried lemon verbena leaves for about five minutes. Always use freshly boiled water. Fresh water is important as this helps extract the best flavour. However, the primary factor affecting flavour and aroma is the leaf quality.
Some of the factors which affect the quality of lemon verbena leaves are:
- plant selection
- cultivation method
- soil type
- climatic conditions
- the time of harvest
- preservation method
- storage conditions
There are so many variables, some which vary with time and others which cannot be controlled. Getting these factors right is not easy and requires great skill. But when grown under optimum conditions, you are rewarded with beautiful flavours and the highest concentration of health-boosting components.
Lemon Verbena Health Benefits
There is a long history of lemon verbena consumption in South America. It is believed that, in ancient times, the Incas were the first who discovered its beneficial properties. Lemon verbena is still widely used as a traditional medicine these days.
Many academic studies have been undertaken to evaluate lemon verbena. These show that lemon verbena possesses several beneficial properties, including antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects.
The studies also validate the majority of traditional therapeutic and health-boosting claims. However, more work still remains to completely understand the exact workings – particularly regarding the potential synergistic effects of the various biological components.
Here are 9 health benefits proclaimed by experts:
1) Detox & Immunity Boost
Detoxing is a constant and vital process for removing free radicals and staying healthy. Drinking lemon verbena tea can stimulate the detox process.
Research has shown that lemon verbena is very rich in phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds are powerful antioxidants which protect against free radicals. The phenolic compounds help reduce oxidative stress by aiding the body in detoxifying and neutralising the harmful effects of free radicals. This keeps the body healthy, boosting the immune system.
Lemon verbena tea shows comparable antioxidant activity to green tea but without the bitterness. It has similar free-radical-scavenging properties as some of the best known neuroprotective plants such as Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, and Curcuma. Moreover, there's the added benefit of it being naturally caffeine free. Lemon verbena tea can thus be drunk as a detox and restorative tea throughout the day, but is especially potent at night.
2) A Popular Natural Slimming Aid
Drinking tea, sugar-free of course, is generally beneficial as part of a weight-loss programme. Lemon verbena, however, is particularly suited for this task. It has been shown to suppress the appetite, helping curb those irresistible cravings for snacks or sweets. Drinking lemon verbena tea between meals can, therefore, help you stick to your diet and achieve your weight-loss goals.
In addition to the natural appetite suppressing property, which prevents overeating, lemon verbena tea also promotes the burning of fat, stimulates the breakdown of cellulite, and regulates the metabolism.
3) Reduces Stress
Lemon verbena makes a soothing and relaxing infusion. Finding time for yourself to enjoy a delicious cup of tea relieves tension and helps reduce stress. But the components in lemon verbena give an extra boost as they have a mildly calming effect on the nervous system and help relieve muscle tension. These calming and tension releasing properties aid in reducing nerves, anxiety, and stress.
Studies have indicated that verbascoside, a biological component in the lemon verbena leaf, is the main ingredient responsible for the stress and anxiety reducing properties.
4) Sleep Aid
Many take advantage of lemon verbena's calming effects as an aid to sleep disorders such as insomnia. The same properties that help reduce tension and stress can calm the body and mind and help one prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Lemon verbena is also rich in melatonin, a hormone in our bodies that increases as night approaches. Its production is stimulated by darkness and causes you to become sleepy. Drinking lemon verbena tea is a natural way to help increase the amount of melatonin in your body.
Lemon verbena's ability to soothe and relax, its rich melatonin content, and lack of caffeine make it an ideal evening drink. It can help one to wind down, relax the body, and calm the mind for easing into a restful night's sleep.
5) Promotes Digestion
In many cultures, lemon verbena tea has historically been used to promote digestion. Similar to other herbs renowned for their beneficial digestive properties, lemon verbena can soothe your tummy, through its antispasmodic qualities. This means it calms the gastrointestinal tract. By doing so, it can help reduce symptoms from, for example, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, cramping, or bloating. This allows the digestive tract to function as intended.
The biological components in lemon verbena have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant properties of the plant are also beneficial for reducing the inflammatory effects of oxidative elements.
This ability of lemon verbena to contain and reduce inflammation could, for example, help ease joint pain or other inflammatory induced ailments.
7) Prevents Muscle Damage During Exercise
Studies have shown the unique qualities of lemon verbena can prevent muscle damage in athletes when taken as a pre-workout supplement. It is lemon verbena's antioxidant properties combined with its ability to suppress inflammation that have been linked to damage prevention and repair of muscle tissue. What's more, taking lemon verbena as a pre-workout supplement has been shown to not inhibit the growth or development of muscle.
8) Combats Fever
It has been scientifically proven that lemon verbena contains biologically active substances with antipyretic properties, i.e., substances that reduce fever. Therefore, it is no surprise that in South American folk medicine, lemon verbena has a long history as a trusted herb for reducing fevers.
Lemon verbena's ability to reduce fevers along with its restorative and antioxidant properties, make it an excellent tea for naturally combatting a high temperature and kick-starting recovery.
9) Relieves Congestion
The final health benefit of lemon verbena is its property as a natural expectorant. An expectorant helps loosen up mucus and phlegm, clearing congestion in the respiratory tracts.
Lemon verbena is a fascinating herb. It not only makes a delicious herbal tea but has numerous health benefits.
Despite lemon verbena's wondrous properties, it is no replacement for a healthy lifestyle. But drinking lemon verbena tea as part of a balanced diet can be beneficial. Its protective components can help relieve adverse health symptoms, boost your immune system, and improve your overall wellbeing.
However, it is important to note that we do not recommend using lemon verbena instead of or along prescribed medication without prior consultation.
Also, as the effect on pregnancy is not well established, pregnant women should exercise caution when consuming lemon verbena (or any natural supplement).
If in doubt, always consult a dietary or medical professional.
Our lemon verbena tea is renowned for its wonderfully zesty and harmonious flavour, achieved through careful blending of different varieties. It's soothing and delicate with a gentle refreshing lemony edge. Ideal for daydreams… and sweet dreams. Click here to find out more about our luxurious lemon verbena tea.
Marina, co-founder GREK