Lemon verbena - application, effects and recipes

Lemon verbena - application, effects and recipes / Naturopathy
The lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), also known as lemon shrub, owes its name to its lemony flavor. Because of him, the shrub is a popular aromatic plant in the garden. Lemon verbena not only smells very refreshing, but also contains many beneficial ingredients. For example, the lemon fragrance is associated with a very invigorating and appetizing effect. At the same time, Aloysia citrodora should also have a calming effect on nerves, wounds and sources of infection in the body. Which ingredients of the lemon verbena lend such healing powers and what there is to observe in the application of the herb, we have summarized in the following article for you.


  • Wanted poster for lemon verbena
  • herbs portrait
  • Ingredients and effect
  • Application and dosage
  • Lemon verbena as a kitchen spice
  • side effects

Wanted poster for lemon verbena

plant genus: Verbena (Aloysia)
plant family: Vervain Family (Verbenaceae)
Folk name: Lemon shrub, lemon bush
Occurrence: South America, Europe (naturalized)

application areas:

  • anorexia
  • difficulty breathing
  • colds
  • mild depression
  • Muscle complaints, nervous complaints
  • sleep disorders
  • morning sickness
  • restlessness
  • digestive problems

Used plant parts: Leaves

Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) is not only a popular aromatic plant in the garden, but also contains many beneficial ingredients. The leaves are used for this purpose. (Image: summersum / fotolia.com)

herbs portrait

Lemon Verbena is originally native to the subtropics of South America. It was not until the end of the 18th century that the plant was introduced to Europe. Spanish sailors brought home first copies of their expeditions to the New World. The lemon bush then became an exotic novelty in the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid. This received between 1774 and 1781 under King Carlos III. A new location in close proximity to the Natural History Museum of Madrid and was thus not only an exhibition site for plants, but also a resource for Spanish botanist scientists, who soon recognized the curative benefits of lemon verbena.

useful information: Maria Luisa, the wife of Carlos' second-born son, Carlos IV, later became the godfather of the Aloysia name with her name.

Over the next few centuries, lemon verbena became a popular fragrance and ornamental plant for flower bouquets and ornamental plant arrangements in gardens. Above all, the British and French garden culture made Aloysia citrodora a relatively early part of the national garden design. In addition, the lemon shrub soon enjoyed particular popularity in the kitchen. Especially as an aromatic tea herb, the aromatic plant enjoys a good reputation to this day. But also as the exclusive spice herb for soft drinks, desserts, salads, meat, fish and mushroom dishes, Verbena is always in use because of its lemony taste. Even as a scent of the room and the ingredient of fragrant cosmetics, lemon verbena is no stranger, which makes clear how versatile the plant can be.

Tip: The scent of lemon verbena attracts in the garden a wealth of beneficial organisms such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies. So if you are looking for natural pest control measures, the lemon shrub provides fragrant support. However, the subtropical plant is hardly hardy for us, which is why a pot culture is recommended. In this way, the plant can hibernate easily in the house in the fall.

As already indicated, lemon verbena belongs to the plant family of vervain plants (Verbenaceae). This was named after the verbena of the same name, which is only too often mistaken for the lemon shrub. The reason for this is the fact that the fachbotanic name of verbena is very similar to the name of the verbs. And even the whitish flowers, which are summarized in both cases in lush ears, occasionally cause confusion. On closer examination, however, significant differences between the two plants quickly become apparent.

For example, vervain is only up to 75 centimeters tall, whereas lemon verbena is up to 2 meters high. The nature of the coarsely toothed verbena leaves differs significantly from the possibly slightly dentate lancet leaves of the lemon verbena. The latter smell also unmistakably lemon, owing to the special composition of the essential oils in Aloysia citrodora. These are also the main active ingredient in the plant, which is why it is primarily the verb leaves that are used to treat health problems. For example, they can be used against:

  • Respiratory problems (eg asthma, cold or cough),
  • Muscle and nervous disorders (e.g., inner agitation, mild depression, muscle spasms, nervousness, or sleep problems),
  • Indigestion (e.g., lack of appetite, flatulence, intestinal colic, diarrhea, or morning sickness),
  • other health complaints (such as ocular swelling, fever, headache or dizziness).
Lemon verbena can be used, for example, for respiratory complaints such as asthma or cough, but also for muscle and nerve complaints or indigestion. (Image: RFBSIP / fotolia.com)

Ingredients and effect

Now it has to be said that the healing effect of lemon verbena is somewhat weaker than with vervain. However, this does not detract from the manifold possibilities of use. Because the components that make up the essential oils of lemon verbena are all tried and tested active ingredients.


The perfume citral represents the main constituent of the essential oils in Aloysia citrodora. However, he is not only responsible for the extraordinary aroma of lemon verbena, but is also considered as

  • antibacterial,
  • antifungal,
  • antioxidant
  • and anti-inflammatory agent.

Ideal for aromatherapy or steam bath with Aloysia citrodora for inflammatory respiratory infections. It should be noted, however, that the components of citral - in detail, the aldehydes geranial (Citral A) and Neral (Citral B) - can occasionally lead to allergic reactions. Allergy sufferers should therefore first carefully test whether they tolerate lemon verbena.


The term terpene refers to phytochemicals that have been known for some time for their good medical effects. In lemon verbena these are contained in the form of the following monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes:

  • carvone,
  • caryophyllene,
  • dipentene,
  • geraniol,
  • Camphor,
  • linalool,
  • limonene,
  • nerol,
  • pinene.

In addition to the aromatic aspect of many terpenes, which, like citral, also plays a part in the citrusy taste of Aloysia citrodora, these ingredients are also known for their manifold healing effects. Above all, the calming effect on the digestive tract, which emanates from many terpenes, is used repeatedly to treat gastrointestinal upset. Camphor is also a very popular ingredient in this regard for cold remedies, since the monoterpene contained acts both anti-inflammatory and strong disinfectant. Medicines for muscle strains, neuralgia and rheumatic diseases are also very often used for camphor, as it also has a calming effect on the nerves and thus also on nervous pain stimuli.

In addition to the aromatic aspect of many terpenes, the ingredients mentioned are also known for their manifold healing effects. Above all, the calming effect on the digestive tract, which emanates from many terpenes, is used repeatedly to treat gastrointestinal upset. (Image: Tijana / fotolia.com)


When it comes to the analgesic effect of lemon verbena, bioflavonoids should also be mentioned. Artemine and hesperidin, in particular, have already proved their worth as tested pain killers in initial trials. But the flavonoids in Aloysa citrodora can do even more. Hespiridine is also known as

  • antioxidant,
  • cholesterol-lowering,
  • disinfecting,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • and vascular protective agent known.

Furthermore, artemite even has anti-carcinogenic properties, which is why some researchers are discussing its use in cancer treatment.

useful information: The disinfecting potential of lemon verbena has already proven useful in studies of bacterial infections. Among other things, the herb has shown positive effects on the reduction of pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli - two bacteria that are considered the major cause of a number of infectious diseases, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

Application and dosage

Lemon verbena can be harvested year-round. It is advisable to remove only small amounts of leaves in order not to overstrain the shrub with excessive cuts. An exception is the annual fall in autumn. Here then larger amounts of waste can be obtained, which are available for a more intensive use of the herb.

Lemon verbena as a kitchen spice

The lemon shrub is a real jack-of-all-trades in the kitchen. It is not always the targeted use of disease treatment in the foreground. Also an everyday use as an ingredient for dishes is possible. Seasoning with Aloysia citrodora is both hearty and sweet. In the kitchen area, the refinement of the following dishes with lemon verbena is very popular:

  • fish,
  • seafood,
  • chicken dishes,
  • mushroom dishes,
  • salad side dishes.

The aroma unfolds better when the leaves are added to the frying pan.

When it comes to desserts, there are no limits to the creative use of lemon. Whether as an ingredient for preserves (such as jam or jelly), pastries such as cakes or fruit desserts and yoghurt lovers can let their enjoyment here run wild. It is also a secret to mix the Verbena in refreshing drinks. From homemade fruit juices to smoothies and cocktails, you can do a lot with the lemony shrub.

Lemon verbena is not only suitable as a tea herb, but also as an ingredient for jams, pastries and cakes, fruit desserts and yogurts or as an additive for refreshing drinks. (Image: Heike Rau / fotolia.com)

Recipe for delicious lemon verbena syrup

If you want to preserve the unique aroma of lemon verbena in a highly concentrated form, you can make a syrup from the annual blend. For this you need:

  • 2 to 3 leaf-rich verbena branches (about 10 g)
  • 350 g of sugar or cane sugar
  • 250 ml of water
  • ¼ lemon for flavor enhancement
  • 1 pot
  • 1 screw jar
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    Step 1: Put water and sugar in a saucepan and let it boil to a syrup.

    Step 2: Then cut the lemon into thin slices and add them to the syrup along with the verb branches. Alternatively, the leaves of lemon verbena can be separated from the branches before.

    Step 3: The syrup batch is left covered for about a week. Then sift off lemon and herbs and boil the syrup again. Finally, the syrup is filled while hot in a heat-resistant bottle. It can now be used to refine cocktails, sparkling wines, mineral waters, fruit juices, smoothies or for desserts and frosting.

    Lemon verbena as a tea herb

    The traditional use of lemon verbena is as a tea herb. To do this, take five to six leaves of the plant, put them in a cup and pour over the herbs with hot water. After a brewing time of about ten minutes, the leaves are screened and the tea is drunk in small sips.

    tip: For tea production, the use of fresh Verbena leaves is especially recommended. Although dried herbs can be used, the healing effect as well as the aroma is then significantly weakened.

    side effects

    Except for the plant's own citrate, which may cause allergic reactions in some cases, no side effects are known for lemon verbena. (Ma)