Scientific Name(s): Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt.
Common Name(s): Cedrón, Cidrao, Lemon beebrush, Louisa, Salva-limao, Verveine citronelle
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 22, 2022.
Lemon verbena extract has demonstrated antioxidant activity, and the essential oil has shown antimicrobial properties. However, clinical data are lacking to support use. Lemon verbena has also shown muscle supplementation and sedative properties, each supported by one clinical trial.
Clinical studies to substantiate the safety or efficacy of any lemon verbena dosing regimen are limited. Traditional dosing regimens include a 45 mL decoction taken several times per day. See specific indications in the Uses and Pharmacology section.
Contraindications have not been identified. Avoid use in individuals with 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 individuals with renal insufficiency because lemon verbena is excreted via the renal route.
Lemon verbena is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and for use as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages. It is also used in herbal teas.
Lemon verbena, a deciduous plant native to Argentina and Chile, grows up to 3 m in height and is characterized by fragrant, lemon-scented, narrow leaves. It bears small, white flowers in terminal panicles.Gil 2007, Simon 1984, USDA 2019 Lemon verbena is commonly cultivated in the tropics and Southern Europe and is grown commercially in France and North Africa. Synonyms include Aloysia citriodora Paláu, Aloysia citrodora Paláu, Lippia citrodora Kunth, Lippia triphylla (L'Her.) Kuntze, Verbena triphylla (L'Her.), and Zappania citrodora (Lam).
The lemon verbena plant has been used medicinally for centuries and is believed to possess antispasmodic, antipyretic, carminative, sedative, and stomachic properties. In addition, indigenous people of South America and North Africa have used lemon verbena to treat conditions such as diarrhea, flatulence, insomnia, and rheumatism. The leaves and flowering tops are used in teas and as beverage flavors, and the fragrance is used in perfumery.Bahramsoltani 2018, Duke 2002, Ragone 2007, Simon 1984
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 volatile oils, including neral, limonene, and geraniol as the major monoterpene constituents. To a lesser extent, sesquiterpenes such as beta-caryophyllene are also present. Flavonoids (including vitexin), phenolic acids, and iridoid glycosides (verbascosides) have been described.Bilia 2008, Quirantes-Piné 2010, Quirantes-Piné 2013, Ragone 2007, Skaltsa 1988
The content and composition of the essential oil varies by genotype, plant part, growth stage, time of harvesting, and region of cultivation.Di Leo Lira 2013, Gil 2007 The European Pharmacopoeia describes the essential oil and main quality chemical markers for the species, including the phenylpropanoid glucoside acteoside.Di Leo Lira 2013
Uses and Pharmacology
Animal and in vitro data
In vitro, alcoholic leaf extracts demonstrated antibiotic activity against Escherichia coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Staphylococcus aureus.Duke 2002, Ghaemi 2007
Insecticidal activity of lemon verbena essential oils has been described, suggesting potential applications for controlling head lice infestation and repelling mosquitoes (possibly due to the limonene content).Gillij 2008, Toloza 2010, Werdin González 2013 A 2% emulsion of the oil was reported to kill mites and aphids.Duke 2002
Animal and experimental data
Experiments in rats and laboratory tests have demonstrated antioxidant activity of lemon verbena extracts.Bilia 2008, Lenoir 2012, Quirantes-Piné 2013 Antioxidant enzymes and blood indices have been measured, and protection against induced colon inflammation in rats was demonstrated with a lemon verbena infusion.Lenoir 2011, Portmann 2012 Experimental studies suggest that lemon verbena's antioxidant activity is similar to that of green tea.Abderrahim 2011
In healthy male volunteers (N=15), supplementation with a lemon verbena extract containing 10% verbascoside had a modest effect on cytokine response and exercise-induced oxidative damage of neutrophils.Funes 2011 In a small, randomized, prospective, placebo-controlled clinical trial (N=9), C-reactive protein levels and markers of oxidative stress decreased in patients with certain forms of multiple sclerosis given a low-fat diet supplemented with lemon verbena extract; further studies are needed to confirm results.Mauriz 2014
In a small, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study with parallel design, a dried extract of lemon verbena was safe and well tolerated, and effective in reducing muscle damage after exhaustive exercise. Active healthy males and females (N=44) 22 to 50 years of age were randomized to receive lemon verbena extract 400 mg once daily or placebo. After 15 days, participants in the lemon verbena group showed less muscle damage as well as faster and full recovery. This group also had significantly less exercise-related loss of muscle strength (P=0.0311) over all time points, improved glutathione peroxidase activity by trend (P=0.0681), and less movement-induced pain (P=0.0788) compared with the placebo group.Buchwald-Werner 2018
In a parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (N=100), patients were randomized to receive A. citriodora extract (as syrup) (total essential oil content of 1.66 mg per 10 mL; total amount of flavonoid in terms of quercetin of 3.22 mg per 10 mL of the syrup) or placebo syrup. Patients were advised to use 10 mL of syrup 1 hour before bedtime for a period of 4 weeks, then fill out the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) questionnaires. After 4 weeks of treatment, mean global PSQI scores (components include sleep latency, habitual sleep efficiency, daytime dysfunction, and subjective sleep quality) and ISI score improved significantly with A. citriodora compared with placebo (P<0.001). These results suggest that oral use of A. citriodora may be used as complementary treatment for insomnia.Afrasiabian 2019
Animal and in vitro data
Vitexin, a chemical constituent identified in an aqueous extract of cedrón, showed spasmolytic activity in isolated rat duodenum.Ragone 2007 Chinese investigators have reported antitussive activity of a component of the related plant Verbena officinalis.Gui 1985
Clinical studies to substantiate the safety or efficacy of any lemon verbena dosing regimen are limited. Traditional dosing regimens include a 45 mL decoction taken several times per day.Duke 2002
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.Duke 2002
None well documented. Apigenin, a chemical constituent of lemon verbena, is a cyclooxygenase inhibitor.Duke 2002
Contact hypersensitivity has been associated with members of related species. Avoid in individuals with renal insufficiency because lemon verbena is excreted renally.Duke 2002, Felgines 2014
Lemon verbena is considered GRAS for human consumption and for use as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages. It is also used in herbal teas.Lemon-verbena 2014 In an evaluation of genotoxic biomarkers, extracts were not genotoxic to human blood.Portmann 2012
- Aloysia citriodora Paláu
- Aloysia citrodora Paláu
- Lippia citrodora Kunth
- Lippia triphylla (L'Her.) Kuntze
- Verbena triphylla (L'Her.)
- Zappania citrodora (Lam)
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