The fascinating health benefits of lemon verbena may include its potential ability to protect muscles, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, calm the stomach, reduce fevers, soothe nerves, and clear up congestion. It is also popularly used for weight loss.
What is Lemon Verbena?
Although lemon verbena is native to South America, it has largely become a globally accessible plant and herb due to its powerful medicinal effects and qualities as a food additive. Scientifically known as Aloysia citrodora, another common name besides lemon verbena is lemon beebrush. The plant is a perennial shrub that has a powerful lemony scent, which intensifies when the leaves and flowers are touched or bruised. The shrub can stand 2-3 meters high and has small purple and white flowers. Its initial widespread use was as a food and flavoring additive, particularly being added to poultry and fish dishes, as well as salads, dressings, jams, and various beverages. However, the traditional uses of lemon verbena as a medicinal herb have come back into fashion, especially since modern research has revealed a wealth of unique components that make this plant very important for human health.
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 the organs and metabolic processes.
Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena
Let’s take a closer look at the impressive health benefits of lemon verbena.
May Aid in Weight Loss
While green tea is often suggested for those on a diet, lemon verbena is effective too. There are only 2 calories per serving and the rich mix of organic compounds has an effect on the body that may reduce the “munchies”, thereby preventing you from snacking between meals and compromising your diet. One study showed that lemon verbena helped reduce appetite by affecting certain hormones (ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide-1) that control appetite.
May Strengthen Muscles
This is one of the unique qualities of this herb and one that you don’t often find in simple teas. When you use lemon verbena tea as an exercise supplement, research has shown that the high antioxidant properties decrease 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 or post-workout companion!
May Reduce Inflammation
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 to reducing joint pain and faster recovery for joint-related injuries. This is primarily due to the impressive levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in this little herb. One study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that after 9 weeks of treatment with lemon verbena and omega 3, subjects experienced significant reduction of pain and stiffness as well as improved physical function.
May Boost Immunity
Oxidative stress is a result of free radical activity and their presence throughout our body’s organs, which weakens the immune system by stretching it too thin and distracting it with cellular mutation and chronic diseases. Research has connected lemon verbena to lower oxidative stress levels and better overall health of the body, evidenced by accelerated antioxidant enzyme activity, while markers for inflammatory vascular damage decreased.
May Aid in Digestion
Lemon verbena tea also has certain soothing qualities that have been traditionally relied on to relieve stomach issues and indigestion in different cultures. This herbal preparation may have potentially anti-spasmodic qualities that can help it calm the stomach and eliminate cramping and bloating, which can lead to discomfort and gastrointestinal issues. As mentioned previously, lemon verbena tea helps to regulate the appetite by affecting certain hormones that control appetite, which helps prevent the discomfort associated with overeating.
May 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.
May Relieve Anxiety
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.
May Help Treat Congestion
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, so drinking a tea that can help get rid of that unwanted material is definitely a good way to improve your immune system.
Word of Caution: Despite this generally positive portrayal of lemon verbena, some people do suffer from mild dermatitis as a mild allergic response. Also, if you suffer from kidney disease, its active ingredients could potentially worsen the condition, so avoid its use. Consult a trained medical professional before changing your health regimen or replacing a pharmaceutical drug with an herbal remedy.