Lemon verbena is a flowering plant, native to Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. It is a deciduous perennial shrub, which grows to a height of 10 to 15 foot and exudes a hearty lemony scent. The herb is known by various names, such as lemon scented verbena, lemon beebrush, verbena triphylla, lippia citriodora, herb louisa, aloysia citriodora, and so on. The plant bears lancet-shaped green leaves and tiny white or lavender-colored flowers. The herb was first discovered by the Spanish, who then brought it to Europe in the 17th century. Today, the herb is cultivated all across Europe and in the tropics as well. The strong, lemony scent and delicate flavor of lemon verbena leaves have found an important place in the preparation of herbal teas, folk medicines, cosmetics and culinary dishes. Read on further to know the nutrition and health benefits of eating lemon verbena.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena
- Lemon verbena has mild antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and digestive tonic properties.
- It helps in digesting food, strengthening the nervous system and relieving nausea and cramps.
- It aids in reducing the symptoms of flatulence, upset stomach and diarrhea by calming stomach spasms and colon irritability.
- The lemon verbena is often used as a slimming aid, since it breaks down cellulite and regulates metabolism.
- The herb helps in reducing fever caused due to flu.
- It contains expectorant properties that relieve cough and cold. The herb is also known to treat mild symptoms of asthma.
- It provides a soothing effect to people with nasal and bronchial congestion.
- The pleasing aroma and taste of lemon verbena relaxes the nervous system and elevates the mood in case of mild depression.
- The herb is very useful in relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and regulating the menstrual cycle.
- It is used for treating Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the gastro-intestinal tract.
- Since lemon verbena contains properties that can eliminate fungus, the herb is used for treating Candida (yeast overgrowth).
- Add several dried lemon verbena leaves to boiling water and steep for about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the liquid and add lime juice to it to make an aromatic and mildly sedative herbal tea. You can add honey to sweeten the tea, if you desire.
- Add mint or licorice to the lemon verbena tea for best preparation.
- Give your plain rice a delicate, citrus-like flavor by adding minced, fresh lemon verbena leaves. Use the rice as an accompaniment to poultry dishes.
- Add a few fresh lemon verbena leaves at the bottom of the baking dish, before adding the batter. This will give your cake or loaf a great aroma, while baking. Make sure to remove the leaves once the cake or loaf has been baked. Lemon verbena goes well with carrot, banana or zucchini bread.
- The leaves are also used for preparing fruit dishes, jellies, jams, puddings, vegetable marinades, punches, baked custard and homemade ice cream.
- Lemon verbena is used in place of lemon to flavor fish and chicken dishes and salad dressings.
- It is paired with vanilla and mint for making various desserts.
- Fresh lemon verbena leaves are added to a hot bath to revive the mind and body, thereby lightly scenting the skin.
- Lemon verbena essential oil is also used for hot baths in place of the leaves.
- The oil extracted from the leaves is used for making perfumes and floral waters.
- The leaves of lemon verbena are a common ingredient in commercial and homemade potpourri, since they leave a long-lasting citrus scent.
- Lemon verbena leaves are commonly used in finger bowls at banquets or at large dinner parties.
- Do not consume lemon verbena tea continuously. First, have it for 10 days and skip for 5 days thereafter.
- Since lemon verbena essential oil is photosensitizing oil, it should not be applied before going out in the sun. Doing so can irritate those with sensitive skin.