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Herbal Medicine Garden: Lemon Verbena

I was first introduced to this glorious herb while working at Windsong Orchards in New Zealand. Every day at tea time, Jennie, the owner of the farm, would go out to her garden and break a few stems off her glorious lemon verbena plant, gently break them up, put the in the teapot and fill it with boiling water. Within seconds the intoxicating lemon aroma would fill the room. It was my first herbal love affair.

When I moved to Santa Barbara and finally had a place to plant an herbal medicine garden of my own, four lemon verbena plants were the very first members of the garden to go in the ground.

Native to South America, Aloysia citrodora, commonly known as lemon verbena or lemon bee brush is a perennial shrub that can grow up to 2-3 meters high. This plant grows incredibly well here in our warm Santa Barbara climate. I easily get multiple harvests every summer. It’s a wonderful addition to the garden, and as I mentioned earlier, its lemony scent can be intoxicating.

As a medicinal, this plant is easily taken as a single herb tea, or can be blended with other herbs to increase its qualities. Lemon verbena is incredibly high in antioxidants and is known to help reduce inflammation in the body, thus boosting the immune system. In traditional South American medicines, it is used as a diaphoretic to help break a fever. In addition, it also has expectorant qualities to help loosen up phlegm and mucous in the body. Personally, I appreciate the effect that this herb has on the nervous system, helping the body process stress by calming the mind and body.

Lemon verbena is not one of the most common herbs in the pharmacopeia, but it sure is a beauty!

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