Lemon Verbena is a deciduous open shrub that growis to 2 – 3 m high. The 8 cm long glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful lemon scent when bruised. Sprays of tiny lilac or white flowers appear in late spring or early summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0°C although the wood is hardy to -10°C.
Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemony flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas, or can be added to standard tea in place of actual lemon (as is common with Moroccan tea). It can also be used to make a sorbet. In addition, it has anti-Candida albicans activity. In the European Union, Verbena essential oils (Lippia citriodora Kunth.) and derivatives other than absolute are prohibited when used as a fragrance ingredient (Commission Directive 2009/164/EU of 22 December 2009).
Moderate antioxidant supplementation with lemon verbena extract protects neutrophils against oxidative damage, decreases the signs of muscular damage in chronic running exercise without blocking the cellular adaptation to exercise.
Lippia citriodora extract shows antioxidant properties that could play an important role in modulating GSH-reductase activity in lymphocytes and erythrocytes and protecting plasma from exercise oxidative damage. Lemon verbena extract containing 25% verbascoside showed strong antioxidant capacity, especially in a lipophilic environment, which was higher than expected as concluded from the antioxidant capacity of pure verbascoside, probably due to synergistic effects. The capacity of verbascoside to act as an effective radical scavenger in lipophilic environments was also shown. Verbascoside-enriched extracts might have interesting applications in cosmetic, nutraceuticals or functional food; however, the genotoxicity of verbascoside may limit its use.
Lemon Verbena is an effective remedy for various ailments. It has therapeutic properties and the reported benefits of using it internally, in the form of herbal tea, are listed below:
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Ant- spasmodic treatment
- Helps with digestion
- Eases colic
- Reduces fevers
- Relieves spasms of the digestive tract