You may have seen lemon verbena as an ingredient in popular skincare products.
But, did you know that you can also eat and drink this natural plant as part of your diet? Learn more about lemon verbena and why you should consider adding it to your diet.
What is lemon verbena (“louiza” in Greek)?
Louiza comes from a perennial shrub with purple and white flowers. Although this plant is native to South America, Greece’s climate provides it with perfect conditions for growth. It’s been a staple of the Mediterranean diet since the 17th century.
Lemon verbena tastes earthy with a hint of lemon for a fresh and intense flavor. It also has beautiful, bright green leaves that are highly decorative for herb gardens.
Traditional medicinal indications for lemon verbena include indigestion, fevers, insomnia, and congestion. Some of these benefits are explained by research over the last couple of years.
1. Supports faster recovery after exercise
A randomized clinical trial showed that active, healthy individuals who were given 400 mg of lemon verbena extract daily had less muscle damage and faster recovery after exhaustive exercise, compared to a control group. 
Next time you’re working out, you may want to drink some lemon verbena tea after your exercise so that you’re not so sore!
2. Helps you sleep better
In one study, patients with insomnia saw improved sleep quality measures after taking lemon verbena in a syrup form. 
Although you can’t readily find Louiza syrup, you can certainly infuse some herbal tea with leaves to drink before bedtime.
3. Supports immunity and reduces oxidative stress
Historically, Louiza was popular for its immune-boosting effects! Lemon verbena contains a phytonutrient called luteolin, which has antioxidant properties.
Additionally, the antioxidants in verbena are compatible in a variety of conditions, which means that verbena can be added to beverages and sauces without losing its effects.
4. Improves digestion
The Greeks used Louiza to treat diarrhea and gas. Initial research on lemon verbena shows that it may reduce inflammation in your digestive system.  More studies are needed to understand this relationship.
5. May support weight loss and reduce appetite
When combined with hibiscus, lemon verbena was effective for long-term weight loss and maintenance in a group of overweight individuals. 
6. Purifies your skin
When applied topically, verbena can help keep your skin clear and clean. Also, it can fight off bacteria that cause facial acne!
How to incorporate louiza in your diet
There are many culinary uses for Louiza:
- As an herbal tea: Place some verbena leaves in a pot with boiled water – if you crush the leaves with your hand, you’ll get more essential oils and flavor into your tea. Then, steep for a couple of minutes. You can drink lemon verbena tea cold or hot, depending on your preference! Sweeten with honey or lemon as desired.
- For flavoring food: Add fresh or dried Greek verbena leaves to poultry or fish diseases or add to jams, jellies, salads, sauces, and dressings.
Aside from culinary uses, lemon verbena is a common ingredient for lotions and bug repellents, given its pleasant citrus and earthy smell.
The bottom line
Known to the Greeks as Louiza, lemon verbena is a natural plant that’s rich in health benefits and easy to incorporate into your diet.
Enjoy some lemon verbena in your diet as a tea or for flavoring your food. Even if you don’t live in Greece where the climate is suited for the growth of Louiza, you can order leaves imported from Greece.
- Buchwald-Werner S, Naka I, Wilhelm M, Schutz E, Schoen C, Reule C. Effects of lemon verbena extract (Recoverben®) supplementation on muscle strength and recovery after exhaustive exercise: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Jan 23;15:5.
- Afrasiabian F, Mirabzadeh Ardakani M, Rahmani K, Azadi NA, Alemohammad ZB, Bidaki R, Karimi M, Emtiazy M, Hashempur MH. Aloysia citriodora Palau (lemon verbena) for insomnia patients: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of efficacy and safety. Photother Res. 2019 Feb;33(2):350-359.
- Felgines C, Fraisse D, Besson C, Vasson MP, Texier O. Bioavailability of lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) polyphenols in rats: impact of colonic inflammation. Br J Nutr. 2014 May 28;111(10):1773-81.
- Boix-Castejon M, Herranz-Lopez M, Perez Gago A, Olivares-Vicente M, Caturla N, Roche E, Micol V. Hibiscus and lemon verbena polyphenols modulate apptetite-related biomarkers in overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Food Funct. 2018 Jun 20;9(6):2173-3184.
About the author
Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian based in Indianapolis. She obtained her bachelor of science in nutritional science at Cornell University and her MBA at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She is the founder and CEO of a nutrition communications firm called Pink Pamplemousse LLC, where she creates engaging nutrition and wellness content for clients. She has also coached clients on various health conditions including heart disease, obesity, digestive issues and diabetes over the last seven years. Follow Chrissy on Instagram (@thepinkpamplemousse).
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