Whether you call it Lemon Verbena essential oil or Aloysia citriodora, its scent is unique. Verbena is a very popular fragrance in perfumery, but also in the kitchen. Scientific research backs up many of its traditional uses and benefits so far. Check out what this lovely oil can do for you too.
In this post, you’ll read about:
- Some frequently asked questions about the oil. Its composition, various names and where to buy a good-quality oil, are just a few of those questions.
- An easy way to make your own Lemon Verbena-infused oil.
- Blends and recipes with this lemony essence, for all sorts of situations.
- Fun and interesting facts about the lemon verbena plant and essential oil.
- Safety tips for a safe use of the oil.
Lemon Verbena Essential Oil FAQ, Where to Buy, How to Use & Blends
Botanical name: Aloysia triphylla Britton (old term: Lippia citriodora)
Consistency: thin (watery).
Color: clear to pale, and even dark yellow.
Aroma: fresh and lemony, with fruity and floral undertones.
Other names: true verbena, lemon verbena, lemon beebrush, true verbena, Chile verbena, Peru verbena, aloysia citriodora, scented verbena, verbena citriodora
Flash point: 156.2F (+69C)*
*It’s important to know the flashpoint when you want to use the oil in homemade soaps or candles. That temperature is the temperature at which the oil can catch fire. Lemon Verbena must be added to a composition with a temperature below its flashpoint.
The plant comes from South America, but it has adapted itself very well in Asia and Europe too. There are many types of verbena species and some look very pretty.
The opening picture of this post can attest to how beautiful some verbena species can be. That is a Chinese field of verbena. Lemon verbena, however, has white flowers, not purple.
Next, you’ll be discovering all about Lemon Verbena oil under the form of some F.A.Q. First, let’s shed some light on the many names that this plant and its oil has. It’ll help you find and buy the right oil.
1) Why are there other oils called “Verbena”?
The plant belongs to the Verbenaceae family. The verbena family contains about 250 plant species. The plant genus that lemon verbena belongs to is called Aloysia.
Aloysia triphylla is the Latin (botanical) name of lemon verbena. But it also has other synonyms (terms that refer to the same plant).
- Lippia citriodora, is the old term for the plant.
- Lippia triphylla.
- Aloysia citriodora (most commonly used term).
- Verbena triphylla.
- Zappania citriodora.
The French call it “fragrant verbena” (verveine odorante). They also have an “exotic or tropical verbena”, which is a different oil called Litsea cubeba. This oil is also known as Verbena Yunnan.
Another commonly used oil in Aromatherapy is Lemongrass. This oil is also known as Indian Verbena. Its botanical name is Cymbopogon citratus or flexuosus. It’s related to Citronella, not to Lemon Verbena.
There is also a Spanish Verbena, with the botanical name of Thymus hyemalis. As you can see, it’s a thyme species.
And, of course, there is also the common vervain herb, also known as common verbena. This plant is native to Europe and it also belongs to the Verbenaceae family.
The botanical name of vervain is Verbena officinalis. Of course, all these different species have a different chemical composition.
All these other “verbena” oils got this name because of their lemony scent. You can see why Aloysia citriodora essential oil is called “true Verbena”.
2) What is the scent of Verbena essential oil?
Lemon Verbena is quite famous for its unique scent. That is why so many perfume makers seek this essence and use it in their creations.
This scent is not used only in perfumery, but also in personal care products. Soap bars, lotions, and other hygiene products use Lemon Verbena fragrance.
What does Verbena smell like? The scent of Verbena is described by most as:
- A top note, with fixative abilities. In perfumery, a fixative is a substance that binds all the other notes together and makes the fragrance last longer.
- Crisp and fresh.
- Green and lively.
- Lemony and elegant.
- Both hot and bitter, at the same time.
It is also said that the Verbena scent slowly changes into fruity, sweet, and floral. Some also say it becomes rosy at the end.
Unfortunately, many unreliable producers use synthetic aromas made from synthetic citral. They sell them as Lemon Verbena.
Others, who try to keep it a little on the natural side, use Lemongrass and Litsea cubeba essential oils. They use these essences and call the oil Lemon Verbena. Why? Because true Verbena oils are fairly expensive.
Even though it’s so complex, true Verbena essential oil has a subtle fragrance. The human nose can actually tell the difference between a synthetic verbena scent and a real one.
Now you know what the Verbena scent is and what to expect. It is also recommended that you dilute it with other beautiful essential oils.
Lemon Verbena essential oil blends well with:
Floral oils like:
- Ylang Ylang
Herbal oils like:
- Rose Geranium
- Sweet Marjoram
Resinous oils like:
Citrus oils like:
3) What is the Chemical Profile of Verbena Essential Oil?
The oil of Aloysia citriodora has a high content of citral. Citral is also called lemonal because it gives the plant its lemony scent. It is made up of two isomers called geranial and neral.
Neral and geranial have a very good anti-inflammatory effect.
Lemon Verbena oil contains:
- 15 – 45% Citral (neral and geranial).
- 15 – 23% Limonene.
- 3 – 10% 1, 8 cineole (eucalyptol).
- And other compound traces.
Lemon Verbena essential oil doesn’t contain the highest amount of citral. It’s Lemon Myrtle and Litsea cubeba/citrata, with about 90% concentration. They are followed by Lemongrass.
All these compounds give Lemon Verbena certain benefits and effects on our health. Lemon Verbena essential oil is a good:
- Anti-inflammatory. This effect can decrease swelling, inflammation, and pain. It also helps the tissue heal faster, without scars.
- Disinfectant and antibacterial. Protects and prevents inflammations and infections.
- Antiviral and antifungal. This effect is very useful when you want to prevent viral or fungal infections. The oil can kill a number of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- Tonic. It can boost all physiological processes still. it’s especially useful for the gallbladder and pancreas.
- Digestive. It can also boost the production of gastric juices and speed up the digestion.
- Mild hormone balancer. Lemon Verbena oil can regulate the hormone secretion. It does that by stimulating the thyroid and the pancreas.
- Calming and relaxing.
- Anti-anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Aphrodisiac. This oil, like many others, can help with sexual fatigue by stimulating the ovaries and testicles to work better.
- Natural sedative. It can calm down the nervous system and induce sleep.
- Vasodilating. This property dilates the blood vessels and improves the blood flow.
- Anti-addiction (tobacco). You can use this oil to help you get rid of smoking.
- Repellant. The oil of Verbena can keep mosquitoes and a few other critters away.
4) What is Verbena essential oil used for?
By now, you probably got an idea on what this oil can do. Verbena essential oil has many uses, as it does benefits.
What is Verbena good for? This is what many people want to know. Well, let’s see:
Lemon Verbena health benefits:
- Can be used to prevent or soothe respiratory allergies and asthma.
- Decongests the respiratory system.
- Lemon Verbena can lower high blood pressure.
- It can also help with heart palpitations.
- Improves the circulation and fluidifies the blood.
- Can also help with that heavy legs sensation and varicose veins.
- Soothe arthritis pain and other inflammatory joint diseases.
- Lemon Verbena oil can also relieve muscle pain.
- Prevents epidemics and extreme fatigue, especially at the end of the cold season.
- Research shows that Lemon Verbena oil can be used in the treatment of candidiasis.
- It appears that Lemon Verbena essential oil has anticonvulsant effects too. The experiment showed a significant decrease in the duration of a seizure. It also showed an increased period of time before the next seizure.
Lemon Verbena wellbeing benefits:
- Use it to improve the quality of your sleep and ditch insomnia.
- The oil can uplift your mood and make you feel more confident.
- It’s a great anti-anxiety and depression, so use it as often as needed.
- Control your emotions with Lemon Verbena oil.
- Keep your focus and concentration with true Verbena.
- Calm down your nerves and hyperexcitability.
- Start managing the stress in your life with Lemon Verbena oil.
- Change the ambiance of your home.
- Change the smell inside a room. Lemon Verbena is very good at eliminating smoke and tobacco odors.
Lemon Verbena beauty benefits:
- Protects the skin from free radicals damage and counters most of their effects.
- Protects the skin from the damage of the UV rays and premature aging.
- The oil can stimulate the drainage of excess water in the tissue. This makes Verbena oil good for cellulite treatments and weight loss.
- It’s great for acne and oily skin.
- Can also improve the aspect of eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
- Lemon Verbena essential oil can also improve the aspect of a dull hair.
- You can use it to get rid of dandruff and oily hair too.
- Improve the aspect and health of your nails.
- Improve the aspect of wrinkles.
Lemon Verbena cooking benefits:
- The leaves of the Aloysia citriodora can be used raw. They can be used in teas and other specific dishes (South-East Asian).
- The oil can be added to fish, chicken or salads, but I think the leaves are better. Test the oil first for its intensity in taste and aroma. You’ll know whether to use it in a dish, or even sweets or not.
5) How do you use Verbena oil?
Verbena is a steam-distilled essential oil. This means it’s also very concentrated and potent. The International Fragrance Association approves the use of citral-rich substances only diluted.
The substance is a very strong sensitizing ingredient. This means that it can make allergic reactions worse.
Thus, the oil of Verbena can be used topically, through massage.
For that, you should always mix it with some carrier oil first. Usually, 6 drops of EO per Oz carrier oil is a good blend.
Some French sources recommend mixing a drop of Lemon Verbena essential oil with 9 drops of a carrier.
If you have sensitive skin, I recommend using the smallest amount possible. Apply a moderate amount of blend on the affected area and massage it gently.
The internal use of Lemon Verbena oil must be done only with the approval of a doctor!
Aloysia citriodora essential oil can also be used in a diffuser.
Of course, for a little pick-me-up, you can always inhale directly from the bottle. Or you can pour 1 – 2 drops on a cotton pad and inhale regularly.
Unfortunately, this method would eat up a lot of your oil. It wouldn’t be a problem but we must consider the oil’s price as well.
Aromatherapy diffusers are the best way to enjoy the benefits of Verbena. The oil is among the best essential oils that can be diffused safely.
Again, because of a higher price, you should mix a bit of Lemon Verbena with other citruses or aromas that you like.
The best devices for an efficient diffusion are nebulizers. They are entirely made of glass and don’t use water or heat.
Water droplets attach to the oil molecules during diffusion. Thus, they can decrease the therapeutic effects of an oil.
Ultrasonic diffusers are not appropriate for the diffusion of citral-rich essential oils. In time, it can damage the plastic component pieces of the device. This will shorten the shelf life of your aroma diffuser.
Read more about diffusers and how to use them safely here:
- How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser (A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ)
- How Does an Essential Oil Diffuser Work? What You Need to Know
- Best Glass Essential Oil Diffusers (FAQ, Reviews and Blends)
6) Where to buy Lemon Verbena essential oil?
Pure and organic Lemon Verbena essential oil is quite expensive. Its price is justified by high demand and the plant’s low oil yield.
The latter part means that there’s a need for hundreds of kilos of plant material just to get a few milliliters of the essence.
Good Verbena oils may come from South America (Paraguay, Chile, Peru, etc.). But they may also come from Spain, France, and other Mediterranean areas.
If you know what you’re looking for, you can buy Lemon Verbena essential oil online. Unfortunately, there are lots of unreliable products out there.
There are a few important details you need to look out for before buying your Lemon Verbena:
- First, it’s the presentation that gives the product a chance. Make sure the oil is kept in dark-colored glass bottles.
- The label should contain the botanical name of the oil. You need to see one of the names I told you about (Aloysia or Lippia citriodora, triphylla, etc.). The label should also state the country of origin.
- The GC/MS report should state the chemical composition of the oil. It must also state the method of distillation, safety measures, etc.
You should consider that some factors may influence the profile and benefits of the oil. The geographical area, as well as the time of harvest, are very important.
Oils produced in the spring are more potent and aromatic as opposed to those picked late in the summer. Variations in compounds or color are normal.
If you want to buy Lemon Verbena essential oil from Amazon, you could give this essence a try.
The price seems right and the presentation looks good. And most importantly, they can also send you the GC/MS report upon request.
Unfortunately, if you are a fan, doTERRA doesn’t sell Lemon Verbena oils.
7) Can you make Lemon Verbena essential oil at home?
Making Lemon Verbena essential oil at home can be very difficult. You’d need special equipment, like a steam distiller. But, what you can do to capture that lovely lemony and fresh aroma, is to infuse the plant.
- Wash and dry some lemon verbena leaves, then fill a glass jar with them until half full. Crush the leaves a bit then add some carrier oil over.
- Fill the glass with the oil and keep it stored in a warm, sunny, and dry place for a few weeks.
- Shake the glass each day and when you’re satisfied with the scent, strain the contents. You can read more about this infusion technique here.
Lemon Verbena Essential Oil Blends
Now, for the most fun part, let’s mix and match some oils! Choose any of the blends you like and give them a try with the first occasion. These Lemon Verbena essential oil blends are meant to make you feel and look better.
Anti-Anxiety Aromatherapy Diffuser Blend
- Lemon Verbena essential oil: 20 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 10 drops
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 10 drops
Mix these oils in a glass bottle and use a few drops each time you turn the diffuser on. Keep it safe and diffuse 20 minutes only, in a well-ventilated room. Otherwise, the oils can saturate the air and cause nausea and headaches.
Lemon Verbena Blend for Insomnia
- Lemon Verbena essential oil: 3 drops
- Bergamot essential oil: 3 drops
- Melissa essential oil: 4 drops
- Macadamia or Almond carrier
- Roll-on bottle
Add the essential oils first, then add the carrier until the bottle is full. Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply a moderate amount on the temples and chest, and massage it in for a few minutes.
Warming Muscle Verbena Rub
- Aloysia citriodora essential oil: 5 drops
- Juniper essential oil: 4 drops
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
- Tamanu oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Shake and apply on the muscles you’ll be using. Use gentle massage movements on the muscles. This blend can be used before and after exercising, for recovery.
Low Blood Pressure Verbena Blend
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 3 drops
- Lemon Verbena essential oil: 3 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 3 drops
Diffuse a few drops of this blend or mix these oils with some carrier oil. Use the blend mornings and nights, when needed.
Fun & Interesting Facts about Lemon Verbena, plus Safety Tips
I can’t finish the article without giving you all sorts of interesting details about the plant.
Plants are truly great and their survival strategies are baffling at times. I’ve put all the details in a bullet points list, so you can read them easier. Enjoy!
Lemon Verbena Facts
- The plant is native to South America. It also grows in Morocco, India, and Australia. Other places where it grows are the Caribbeans and Mediterranean European regions.
- Its maximum height is 3 meters. The leaves of Lemon Verbena are long and pointed, with a yellowish green hue. The whole plant has a strong lemon smell, especially when you bruise it.
- The plant can grow at altitudes of up to 3000 meters.
- Europeans remarked it and brought it to the continent in the 18th century.
- Lemon Verbena was cultivated mainly for its deliciously fresh and lemony leaves. Today, the oil is extensively used in perfumery and hygiene products.
- The old term of Lippia comes from an Italian botanist and medic, Augustin Lippi.
- The new term (Aloysia) was named after the Princess of Spain (Asturias), Maria Luisa of Parma. The whole plant genus is now called Aloysia. In Spanish, the plant was known as the “princess’s herb” (“la hierba de la Princesa”).
- There are about 30 species in the Aloysia genus and about 250 in the Verbenaceae family.
- Some parasitic wasps contain neral and geranial (citral) in their sex pheromones.
- Lemon Verbena is one of the ingredients of Peru’s national carbonated drinks, the Inca Kola.
- In the 19th century, the leaves of the Lemon Verbena started to be used in herbal teas, in salons.
Safety Tips for Lemon Verbena Essential Oil
Last but not least, we have to know the safe way to handle and use the oil of Verbena. Check out these tips and take them into account next time you’ll be using the oil.
- There are people who are very sensitive to citral. Since Lemon Verbena contains up to 35% of it, allergies can be very frequent. That is why the IFA issued safety recommendations.
- It’s important that you test the oil for allergic reactions before any widespread use. This is applicable to any new bottle of oil. The composition may change from lot to lot.
- Never apply the oil undiluted to the skin. It must be mixed with a carrier oil first, to avoid irritation and skin sensitization. Unfortunately, once sensitized, the area will always react to the substance.
- Some animal studies suggest that a dose-dependent treatment may affect the kidneys. Thus, people with kidney problems should first consult with their doctor.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women in the first trimester should also avoid the oil. As for the infused tea, as long as it’s consumed with moderation, it should not affect the fetus development. A study on pregnant mice showed that it’s safe for the mother and the embryo.
- Don’t take Lemon Verbena essential oil internally until you’ve consulted with a doctor.
- Avoid using the oil on children and elderly people. It can be done only after consulting with the doctor first.
- There is no scientific proof, but the oil of Verbena may interact with certain medicines. Tell your pharmacist or doctor about it.
- Lemon Verbena oil is also phototoxic. You should not expose yourself to the sun for at least 12 hours after using the oil.
- Also, inhaling directly from the bottle, may irritate your respiratory system.
- Verbena oil may also have estrogen-like effects. As a consequence, people with hormone-dependent diseases should avoid its use.
- Finally, do not confuse Lemon Verbena with Litsea essential oil. Or any of the other Verbena oils, for that matter. Pay very close attention to the botanical name of the product before buying. They’re all different oils with different health effects (benefits and side effects).
Even though there are other plants that smell lemony, true Verbena is unique. So is its aromatic oil. Most of the uses of Lemon Verbena essential oil are in perfumery and skin care products. With good reason too! Who doesn’t like to inhale fresh scents from time to time?!
Using it safely is simple, as long as you consider all its precautions. Buying pure Verbena oil, on the other hand, may prove a bit difficult. It may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Have you ever tried Lemon Verbena so far? Was it the tea or the essential oil? What else can you tell us about it?