Scientific Name(s): Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt.
Common Name(s): Cedron, Cidrao, Lemon beebrush, Lemon verbena, Louisa, Salva-limao, Verveine citronelle
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 2, 2019.
Lemon verbena extract has demonstrated antioxidant activity and the essential oil has shown antimicrobial properties, but support of clinical applications is lacking.
There are no clinical studies to substantiate the safety or efficacy of any dosing regimens. Traditional dosage of a 45 mL decoction taken several times per day has been described.
Contraindications have not been identified. Avoid in renal insufficiency.
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Contact hypersensitivity has been associated with members of related species. Avoid in renal insufficiency because lemon verbena is excreted via renal route.
Lemon verbena is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and for use as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages.
Lemon verbena is a deciduous, aromatic plant native to Argentina and Chile, growing to 3 m and characterized by fragrant lemon-scented, narrow leaves. It bears small, white flowers in terminal panicles.1, 2, 3 Lemon verbena is commonly cultivated in the tropics and Europe and grown commercially in France and North Africa. Synonyms include Lippia citrodora Kunth, Lippia triphylla (L’Her.) Kuntze, Verbena triphylla L’Her., Zappania citrodora Lam.
Lemon verbena has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries as an antispasmodic, antipyretic, carminative, sedative, and stomachic, among other indications. The leaves and flowering tops are used in teas and as beverage flavors. Its fragrance is used in perfumery.1, 4, 5
An essential oil, present in small quantities (0.42% to 0.65%), is extracted from lemon verbena leaves by steam distillation. Known as "oil of verbena," it contains a variety of fragrant compounds, including neral, citral (35%), methyl heptenone, carvone, l-limonene, dipentene, and geraniol. Flavonoids (including vitexin), phenolic acids, and iridoid glycosides (verbascosides) have been described,5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and high-performance liquid chromatography methods have been utilized.7
The content and composition of the essential oil varies by genotype, plant part, growth stage, time of harvesting, and region of cultivation.3, 10 The European Pharmacopoeia describes the essential oil and chemical markers for the species, including the phenylpropanoid glucoside acetoside.10
Uses and Pharmacology
An alcoholic leaf extract demonstrated antibiotic activity in vitro against Escherichia coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Staphylococcus aureus.4, 11 Insecticidal activity has been described, suggesting possible applications for controlling head lice infestations and as a mosquito repellent (possibly due to the limonene content).12, 13, 14 A 2% emulsion of the oil was reported to kill mites and aphids.4
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of lemon verbena for bactericidal effects.
Experiments in rats and laboratory tests have demonstrated the antioxidant activity of lemon verbena extracts.6, 8, 15 Antioxidant enzymes and blood indices have been measured, and protection against induced colon inflammation was demonstrated.16, 17 It has been suggested that lemon verbena’s antioxidant activity is similar to that of green tea18
In healthy male volunteers (N = 15), supplementation with verbena extract containing 10% verbascoside had a modest effect on cytokine response and exercise-induced oxidative damage of neutrophils.19 In a small clinical trial, C-reactive protein levels and markers of oxidative stress decreased in patients with certain forms of multiple sclerosis who were given a low-fat diet supplemented with lemon verbena extract.20
The chemical constituent vitexin showed spasmolytic activity in isolated rat duodenum.5 Chinese investigators have reported antitussive activity in a component of the related plant Verbena officinalis.21
There are no clinical studies to substantiate the safety or efficacy of any dosing regimens. Traditional dosage of a 45 mL decoction taken several times a per day has been described.4
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.4
None well documented. Apigenin, a chemical constituent of lemon verbena, is a cyclooxygenase inhibitor.4
Contact hypersensitivity has been associated with members of related species. Avoid in renal insufficiency because lemon verbena is excreted renally.4, 22 One study described urinary excretion of verbascoside metabolites as hydroxycinnamic acids.22
Lemon verbena is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and for use as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages.23 Extracts were not genotoxic to human blood in an evaluation of genotoxic biomarkers.17
- Lippia citrodora Kunth
- Lippia triphylla (L’Her.) Kuntze
- Verbena triphylla L’Her.
- Zappania citrodora Lam
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