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Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena, a perennial shrub indigenous to Chile and Argentina, was brought to Europe by Spanish explorers in the 17th century. This aromatic herb gives off a rich and refreshing lemon scent when crushed, making it a popular ingredient in perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics. Its pleasant aroma is also thought to have a calming effect on the nerves. For this reason, lemon verbena is often used as a sedative and folk remedy for treating anxiety, muscle spasms, and reducing fevers.1

Research suggests that lemon verbena may have antispasmodic properties, and it has been used as a remedy for various gastrointestinal ailments including abdominal pain, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.2 Lemon verbena extract has also been shown to contain high levels of verbascoside, a powerful antioxidant also found in olives.3 Verbascoside may have anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from oxidative stress, making it an effective treatment against joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.4

In addition to its health benefits, lemon verbena has many culinary uses. While this herb can be tough and leathery in its whole form, it makes a wonderful addition to dishes when minced or chopped well. Lemon verbena pairs well with poultry and fish; add a few leaves to marinades or sauces during cooking for a delicate lemon flavor and remove the leaves just before serving. Fresh lemon verbena may also be blended to make a unique salad dressing, or finely chopped and incorporated into various desserts such as fruit salads, yogurt, puddings, jams, or cakes. Steep lemon verbena in hot water for a relaxing cup of tea, or freeze it in ice cubes and add to any beverage for a refreshing taste.5

Experiment with this versatile herb today to enjoy its wonderful flavors and health benefits!

This article was submitted by Isabelle Chu, RD, Clinical Dietitian at NYP/Lower Manhattan Hospital

Reviewed by Bailey O’Keefe, RD, CDN, Manager, Clinical Nutrition Services at NYP/Lower Manhattan Hospital

References

  1. LEMON VERBENA. (n.d.). LEMON VERBENA. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/lemon_verbena.html
  2. Ragone, M. I., Sella, M., Pastore, A., Consolini, A. E. (2010). Sedative and cardiovascular effects of Aloysia citriodora palau, on mice and rats. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from
  3. Bilia, A. R., Giomi, M., Innocenti, M., Gallori, S., Vincieri, F. F. (2008). HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS analysis of the constituents of aqueous preparations of verbena and lemon verbena and evaluation of the antioxidant activity. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18155378
  4. Caturla, N., Funes, L., Perez-Fons, L., Micol, V. (2011). A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of the effect of a combination of lemon verbena extract and fish oil omega-3 fatty acid on joint management. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22087615
  5. Hamlin, S. (1997). Lemon Verbena: From Sorbet to Soap. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/09/garden/lemon-verbena-from-sorbet-to-soap.html

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What the letters mean...
  • V = vegetarian recipe
  • GF = gluten-free recipe
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