There’s a new plant that’s become the current darling of the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industry. It’s an ingredient that’s widely used to flavor pretty much everything – from tea and meat to salad dressings and ice cream. Not only that, it’s also known for its powerful therapeutic benefits in shampoos, soaps, and skin creams.
Here’s introducing the Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) – an aromatic bush herb that’s a wild native to Australian rainforests. The benefits of this beautiful, citrus-scented plant dates back to many thousands of years, when its leaves were traditionally used by the Australian Aborigines as a culinary spice and as a natural cure for coughs, colds, stomach upsets, and skin problems.
Don’t want to miss out? Here’s a list of all the ways the leaves of the lemon myrtle plant can come to your rescue.
1. Treat Bronchitis And Sinus
Lemon myrtle is reportedly the most concentrated source of a chemical compound called plant citral.1 Citral contains potent antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are said to be far more superior to those of terpene hydrocarbons that tea tree oil is so renowned for.
Because of the presence of citral, lemon myrtle leaves can help fight inflammation of the nasal passage and bronchial tubes while clearing out any germs and viruses that may be causing the infection so that the body can recover.
2. Cure A Sore Throat
Sore throats, as common as they are, can be very painful to deal with. Once again, the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties of lemon myrtle leaves can come to your aid by killing bacteria and lowering inflammation.
3. Give You An Immunity Boost
Lemon myrtle leaves also happen to contain high levels of antioxidants such as phytochemicals that work hard to neutralize disease-causing free radicals.2 Eating lemon myrtle leaves can fortify your immune system, thus bolstering you against several health issues.
4. Are An Excellent Cure For Acne
Apart from the fact that acne comes in the way of our natural beauty, what is even more off-putting is the way they are formed. It’s basically dirt and toxins that get attracted by the excess quantity of oil or sebum that’s secreted by the pores of your skin. This combination of oil and dirt eventually ends up clogging your pores to give you inflamed sores called acne.
The oil in the lemon myrtle leaves, when applied in small amounts, can reduce the production of sebum by your skin cells. This means your pores are far less likely to attract pollutants and get clogged.3
Also, let’s not forget that this plant’s antimicrobial properties are great for killing the bacteria that’s responsible for causing the pain and inflammation!
5. Treat Molluscum Contagiosum
A study was conducted in 2004 to find out if the essential oil of the Australian lemon myrtle could be used to treat Molluscum contagiosum in children – a viral skin infection that results in firm, round, painless bumps all over the skin. The researchers found that 9 out of 16 children with the infection, showed 90% reduction in the number of lesions at the end of 21 days of daily topical application of 10% of Lemon myrtle essential oil.4
6. Get Rid Of Bad Body Odor
Lemon myrtle has a refreshing aroma that can help you get rid of bad breath and body odor. Its anti-microbial properties also work to fight off harmful odor-causing germs in sweat, thereby making you smell fresh all day long!
7. Soothe Insect Bites
Because of its soothing effect, lemon myrtle leaves can actually help calm insect bites. The anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce swelling and redness while curbing the itchy sensation. And because of its strong, pleasant aroma, lemon myrtle leaves are actually great for repelling insects!
Word of Caution
Lemon myrtle has many health benefits to offer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful if you overdo it. In its undiluted form, the essential oil is toxic to human cells in vitro. A study found that when left applied to the skin at exposure durations of 1 to 12 hours, the essential oil resulted in reduction of cellular functioning. However, when 0.18 mg of the essential oil was applied to per square centimeter of skin for 8 hours’ duration, the damage due to citral was limited to the epidermal cells.5 6
As a topical product, doctors recognize the leaf oil of lemon myrtle as safe for use at a concentration not exceeding 1 percent. Therefore, to be on the safer side, always consult with your doctor before you start using the essential oil.
|↑1||Southwell, Ian A., Michael Russell, Roslyn L. Smith, and Dennis W. Archer. “Backhousia citriodora F. Muell.(Myrtaceae), a superior source of citral.” Journal of Essential Oil Research 12, no. 6 (2000): 735-741.|
|↑2||Chan, E. W. C., Y. Y. Lim, K. L. Chong, J. B. L. Tan, and S. K. Wong. “Antioxidant properties of tropical and temperate herbal teas.” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 23, no. 2 (2010): 185-189.|
|↑3||Orchard, Ané, and Sandy van Vuuren. “Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017 (2017).|
|↑4||Burke, Briant E., Jon-Eric Baillie, and Richard D. Olson. “Essential oil of Australian lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) in the treatment of molluscum contagiosum in children.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 58, no. 4 (2004): 245-247.|
|↑5||Hayes, A. J., and B. Markovic. “Toxicity of Australian essential oil Backhousia citriodora (Lemon myrtle). Part 1. Antimicrobial activity and in vitro cytotoxicity.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 40, no. 4 (2002): 535-543.|
|↑6||Hayes, A. J., and B. Markovic. “Toxicity of Australian essential oil Backhousia citriodora (lemon myrtle). Part 2. Absorption and histopathology following application to human skin.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 41, no. 10 (2003): 1409-1416.|