Health Benefits of 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 itself is a perennial shrub that has a powerful lemony scent that 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 adding leaves 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 your organ systems and metabolic processes. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these impressive health benefits of lemon verbena.
Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena
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.
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.
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 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.
Immune System: Oxidative stress is the formal name for our bodies “breaking down”. Oxidative stress is a result of free radical activity and presence throughout our body’s organ systems, which weakens the immune system by stretching it too thin and distracting it with cellular mutation and chronic disease. Research has connected lemon verbena supplementation with lowered oxidative stress levels and better overall health of the body, evidence by a decisive increase in white blood cells, the first line of defense for our immune system.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Varicose veins
- Skin conditions
A Final Word of Warning: 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, lemon verbena’s active ingredients could potentially worsen the condition, so avoid use. Most importantly, as with any traditional solution, consult a trained medical professional before changing your health regimen or replacing a pharmaceutical drug with an herbal remedy.