Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena (Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao)Lemon Verbena (Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao)

Botanical Name: Aloysia citrodora, Lippia citriodora

Lemon verbena has the interesting property of being able to help protect muscles. It has popularly been used as a food and flavoring additive but its ancient medicinal properties are once again being promoted as well. The essential oil contains high levels of antioxidants and the herb is also used in pill form as a supplement. It is very good for treating joint pain, insomnia, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea.

Below is an overview of Lemon Verbena (Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Lemon Verbena (Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao).

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Western Name: Lemon Verbena

Also Known As: Lemon Beebrush, Herb Louisa, Limonetto, Vervain (Though this is actually a different plant, so be aware of which plant you are actually speaking about!)

Organs/Systems: Muscles, Stomach, Nerves

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Relaxant, Antioxidant, Digestive, Antispasmodic, Diaphoretic, Laxative, Antiviral, Antiseptic, Antibacterial, Sedating, Tonic, Stomachic. Protects muscles, reduces fevers, calms nerves, congestion, nausea, bloating, stomach cramping, arthritis, injuries, stress, anxiety, varicose veins, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, colds, chills and fevers.


Pin Yin: Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Kidney, Liver, Spleen, Stomach

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Stimulates Qi: joint pain, muscle aches, supports muscle strength, injuries. Clears Heat/Calms Shen: anxiety, insomnia, fevers. Supports Spleen and Stomach: bloating, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramping, constipation.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub that gives off a strong scent of lemon. It has small purple and white flowers. Its leaves are yellowish-green and are long, narrow and pointed.

Lemon verbena is native to South America, in particular Chile and Pure, it is now cultivated throughout the world. It likes well-drained soil rich in organic matter.

Lemon Verbena (Ning Meng Ma Bian Cao)Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Flowering Tops

Flavors/Temps: Sour, Cool

Caution: Considered safe.

History/Folklore: Modern research confirms that lemon verbena contains unique constituents that make it highly beneficial for overall health. The dried leaves are a powerful tonic to organs and metabolic processes and the essential oil contains high levels of antioxidants. Research has also shown that a tea made from the leaves is rich in polyphenolic compounds that support your immunity.

Lemon verbena is a powerful antioxidant and studies have shown that it significantly lowers C-reactive proteins produced by the liver. Levels of C-reactive protein in the liver is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body.

Lemon verbena extract combined with omega-3 fatty acid (such as fish oil) has been shown to be an effective treatment for significantly reducing the pain and stiffness associated with joint pain within 3-4 weeks, making the combination a possible alternative for treating conditions associated with joint pain and stiffness.

While more research is needed, some studies are indicating that lemon verbena has the ability to improve metabolic disturbances caused by obesity. The high levels of polyphenols in the plant are known for their antioxidant properties which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with obesity. Another study showed that 500 milligrams per day of lemon verbena blended with hibiscus resulted in increased feelings of fullness decreasing the desire to eat more as well as reducing blood pressure.

A study published by the European Journal of Applied Physiology indicated clear positive results of lemon verbena extract reducing muscular damage caused by intense or endurance exercise without blocking the body’s ability for cellular adaptation to increased exercise.

Lemon verbena is potent, a little goes a long way. It is often infused into oil, vinegar, butter, or water and then added to dishes and beverages for its popular minty-citrus flavor. It is an ingredient in some liqueurs.

Lemon verbena makes a wonderful bath wash, soap and perfume. The leaves have been placed in finger bowls at dinner parties as a method for scenting and cleaning ones fingers during a meal. It is also used in cleaning products for its fresh clean scent and antiseptic properties.

A compress made of lemon verbena can be used to treat puffy eyes.

The essential oil made from lemon verbena is also renowned for its healing properties. It too is used to treat a variety of ailments ranging from joint aches, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and palpitations.

Lemon verbena was introduced to England in the 1700s. The plant’s common name, Herb Louisa, derives from Maria Louisa, the wife of the King Charles IV of Spain.

Lemon verbena, lemon balm, and vervain are three totally different plants that are often confused for one another as their names all contain the word “lemon.” Lemon verbena and lemon balm are from two entirely different plant families (Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. Lemon verbena belongs to the Verbenaceae family.) Vervain is a member of the Verbenaceae family and is sometimes called “common verbena” and Lemon verbena is commonly called “vervain.”

Lemon verbena is considered the strongest and most intensely lemon scented of the lemon plants. It is acknowledged as being both crisp or stimulating and relaxing at the same time. Its flavor is described as being a cross between licorice and camphor and is used in cooking as a substitute for oregano. When freshly cut the minty-citrus scent is quite powerful and will mellow as the plant is dried.

Key Constituents:

Antioxidants (including: Verbascoside, Nerol, Geraniol, Citral), Luteolin 7-diglucuronide, Eucalyptol, Limonene, Myrcenene, Isovalerianic acid, Flavonoids (including Apigenin and Luteolin).

Did you know?

Weight Loss

While green tea is often suggested for use by dieters, lemon verbena is also effective. Its constituents help reduce the “munchies” helping to prevent in-between-meal snacking that can cause weight gain.


Not Vervain

Though sometimes commonly called vervain, lemon verbena is a different plant entirely. They are both from the family Verbenaceae and sometimes Vervain is called, “common verbena.”

Fun fact!

Over 10 Feet Tall

In South America, where the plant originates it is known to be able to grow to over ten feet tall.

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