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Lemon Verbena

Scientific Name(s): Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt.
Common Name(s): Cedron, Cidrao, Lemon beebrush, Lemon verbena, Louisa, Salva-limao, Verveine citronelle

Clinical Overview

Use

Lemon verbena extract has demonstrated antioxidant activity and the essential oil has shown antimicrobial properties, but support of clinical applications is lacking.

Dosing

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

Contraindications have not been identified. Avoid in renal insufficiency.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Contact hypersensitivity has been associated with members of related species. Avoid in renal insufficiency because lemon verbena is excreted via renal route.

Toxicology

Lemon verbena is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and for use as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages.

Botany

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.

History

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

Chemistry

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

Antimicrobial

Animal data

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

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of lemon verbena for bactericidal effects.

Antioxidant activity

Animal data

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

Clinical data

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

Other uses

Spasmolytic

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

Dosing

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

Interactions

None well documented. Apigenin, a chemical constituent of lemon verbena, is a cyclooxygenase inhibitor.4

Adverse Reactions

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

Toxicology

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

References

1. Simon JE, Chadwick AF, Craker LE. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography, 1971-1980. Hamden, CT: Archon Books; 1984.
2. Aloysia triphylla (L'Hér.) Britton. USDA,NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 April 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. 27401-4901. USA.
3. Gil A, Van Baren CM, Di Leo Lira PM, Bandoni AL. Identification of the genotype from the content and composition of the essential oil of lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora Palau). J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(21):8664-8669.17880159
4. Duke JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
5. Ragone MI, Sella M, Conforti P, Volonté MG, Consolini AE. The spasmolytic effect of Aloysia citriodora, Palau (South American cedrón) is partially due to its vitexin but not isovitexin on rat duodenums. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;113(2):258-266.17640836
6. Quirantes-Piné R, Herranz-López M, Funes L, et al. Phenylpropanoids and their metabolites are the major compounds responsible for blood-cell protection against oxidative stress after administration of Lippia citriodora in rats. Phytomedicine. 2013;20(12):1112-1118.23827667
7. Quirantes-Piné R, Arráez-Román D, Segura-Carretero A, Fernández-Gutiérrez A. Characterization of phenolic and other polar compounds in a lemon verbena extract by capillary electrophoresis-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. J Sep Sci. 2010;33(17-18):2818-2827.20715141
8. Bilia AR, Giomi M, Innocenti M, Gallori S, Vincieri FF. HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS analysis of the constituents of aqueous preparations of verbena and lemon verbena and evaluation of the antioxidant activity. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2008;46(3):463-470.18155378
9. Duke JA. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1992.
10. Di Leo Lira P, van Baren CM, López S, et al. Northwestern Argentina: a center of genetic diversity of lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora PALÁU, Verbenaceae). Chem Biodivers. 2013;10(2):251-261.23418172
11. Ghaemi EO, Khorshidi D, Moradi A, et al. The efficacy of ethanolic extract of lemon verbena on the skin infection due to Staphylococcus aureus in an animal model. Pak J Biol Sci. 2007;10(22):4132-4135.19090293
12. Toloza AC, Zygadlo J, Biurrun F, Rotman A, Picollo MI. Bioactivity of Argentinean essential oils against permethrin-resistant head lice, Pediculus humanus capitis. J Insect Sci. 2010;10:185.21062140
13. Gillij YG, Gleiser RM, Zygadlo JA. Mosquito repellent activity of essential oils of aromatic plants growing in Argentina. Bioresour Technol. 2008;99(7):2507-2515.17583499
14. Werdin González JO, Laumann RA, da Silveira S, Moraes MC, Borges M, Ferrero AA. Lethal and sublethal effects of four essential oils on the egg parasitoids Trissolcus basalis. Chemosphere. 2013;92(5):608-615.23664473
15. Lenoir L, Joubert-Zakeyh J, Texier O, Lamaison JL, Vasson MP, Felgines C. Aloysia triphylla infusion protects rats against dextran sulfate sodium-induced colonic damage. J Sci Food Agric. 2012;92(7):1570-1572.22190244
16. Lenoir L, Rossary A, Joubert-Zakeyh J, et al. Lemon verbena infusion consumption attenuates oxidative stress in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in the rat. Dig Dis Sci. 2011;56(12):3534-3545.21688009
17. Portmann E, Nigro MM, Reides CG, et al. Aqueous extracts of Lippia turbinata and Aloysia citriodora (Verbenaceae): assessment of antioxidant capacity and DNA damage. Int J Toxicol. 2012;31(2):192-202.22427199
18. Abderrahim F, Estrella S, Susin C, Arribas SM, González MC, Condezo-Hoyos L. The antioxidant activity and thermal stability of lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) infusion. J Med Food. 2011;14(5):517-527.21434775
19. Funes L, Carrera-Quintanar L, Cerdán-Calero M, et al. Effect of lemon verbena supplementation on muscular damage markers, proinflammatory cytokines release and neutrophils' oxidative stress in chronic exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(4):695-705.20967458
20. Mauriz E, Vallejo D, Tuñon MJ, et al. Effects of dietary supplementation with lemon verbena extracts on serum inflammatory markers of multiple sclerosis patients. Nutr Hosp. 2014;31(2):764-771.25617561
21. Gui CH. Antitussive constituents of Verbena officinalis [in Chinese]. Zhong Yao Tong Bao. 1985;10(10):35.2938777
22. Felgines C, Fraisse D, Besson C, Vasson MP, Texier O. Bioavailability of lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) polyphenols in rats: impact of colonic inflammation. Br J Nutr. 2014;111(10):1773-1781.24513110
23. Lemon-verbena. Food for Human Consumption. Fed Regist. 2014;21(3):2014. 21CFR172.510.

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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