5 Health Benefits Of Lemon Verbena That Might Surprise You!

Image courtesy: Plenuska [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a fan of all things citrus, chances are you’re going to be delighted with lemon verbena. A woody shrub with narrow, glossy green leaves, lemon verbena has a strong, sweet, and lemony flavor that lends itself well to be added to beverages, salads, jellies, sauces, soups, fish and meat dishes. In fact, the lemony leaves of the plant can be used in the place of lemon in recipes. But it’s not all about the flavor, lemon verbena packs in the nutrition as well. Here are all the health benefits it provides.

1. Helps Repair Muscles

The antioxidant properties of lemon verbena might help protect to neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, against oxidative damage. In doing so, they may help boost immune function.1

If you exercise regularly, you’re bound to be familiar with post-workout soreness that makes it hard to move around without feeling your muscles ache and complain. Lemon verbena can help with that. One study looked at the effects of moderate antioxidant supplementation, in the form of a lemon verbena extract, on healthy male volunteers who followed a 90-minute running protocol for 3 weeks. As a part of the research, the subjects’ antioxidant enzyme activity, oxidative stress markers, inflammatory cytokines, and muscular damage was noted down. Researchers found that lemon verbena’s antioxidant properties lowered the signs of muscular damage in chronic running exercise, in turn relieving any muscle soreness. It’s important to note that the extract was found to do this, without blocking the body’s cellular adaptation to exercise. Hence, it relieves muscle soreness without affecting the body’s ability to adapt to workouts and get stronger.2

2. Relieves Joint Pain

As we age, taking care of the health of our joints is vital. Research has found that lemon verbena might help maintain joint health. In fact, one study found that consuming a supplement with antioxidant-rich lemon verbena as well as omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) can be an alternative treatment for joint management. In this study, conducted in 45 subjects with joint pain and discomfort, some participants took the supplement for 9 weeks while others took a placebo. At the end of the study, it was found that the former noticed a significant reduction in pain and stiffness as well as improved physical function, while the latter didn’t. And these positive effects began to appear at weeks 3 and 4. While further research is needed to fully validate this benefit, it does make lemon verbena a good addition to an overall healthy diet.3

3. May Help Fight Staph Infections

Staph infections can anything from minor skin irritation, nausea, and vomiting to diarrhea, dehydration, low blood pressure, and life-threatening complications. Fighting them is tricky, especially since antibiotic resistance is on the rise. Finding natural ways to treat it is, hence, vital. Several laboratory studies have found that an ethanolic extract of lemon verbena can prevent the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. One recent study, conducted in animals with skin infections due to staph, divided subjects into 4 groups and treated them for 7 days with either no treatment, a conventional topical antibiotic, ointment prepared from ethanolic extract of lemon verbena, or an injection of lemon verbena solution. The rate of recovery of wounds and the presence of pus were analyzed over the duration of the treatment. Researchers concluded that the ointment was successful at treating and preventing the development by Staphylococcus aureus in the early phases of the infection.4

4. May Prevent The Development Of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can lead to vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination as well as a host of other symptoms, whose severity and duration can vary from person to person. One of the main factors leading to the development of this condition is inflammation. Lemon verbena might help with this. One 2014 study, conducted in 30 patients, observed the effects of supplementing with lemon verbena (with a supplement containing all the herb’s antioxidant content). It was found, at the end of the study, that the most severe patients in the study with secondary progressive MS (the third of the fourth stage of MS) who took the lemon verbena supplement found that their C-reactive protein concentrations had significantly decreased. And considering the fact that C-reactive protein is produced in the liver and

is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body, researchers postulated that the benefits of lemon verbena for MS comes from its ability to tackle and lower inflammation.5

5. May Help Stave Off Obesity

In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Obesity can lead to complications like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.6 Managing one’s weight is, hence, important. And of late, research has found that lemon verbena might have the ability to help prevent obesity. One study, conducted in animals, looked at the ability of the herb’s antioxidant content, specifically that related to verbascoside (a plant polyphenol that exhibits antioxidant properties), to improve metabolic disturbances caused by obesity. Researchers found that lemon verbena extract prevented the accumulation of triglyceride, lowered inflammation, and fought

oxidative stress. They also found that lemon verbena as a whole worked better than just the verbascoside alone.7

In addition to this, one 2017 study, conducted in 54 overweight women, looked at the effects of a supplement containing a type of hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla). It found that supplementing with 500 milligrams of lemon verbena and hibiscus increased satiety and fullness while decreasing hunger as compared to a placebo after 1 month. These differences increased with time as well.8