The Other Lemon for a Hot Summer Day
Lemon verbena, Lippia citriodora, is native to Chile and Argentina. The lemon verbena family of plants includes 70 varieties and 800 species. Besides Lippia citriodora, Verbena triphylla and Aloisia triphylla provide an uplifting essential oil with the most heavenly scent. The aroma has no competition. It reminds me of the fresh scent pervading the Costa Rican rain forest as day breaks.
This delicate bush grows over six feet tall and three to four feet in width. The branches are thin and bend to give the plant roundness. Light green, lancet shaped leaves sprout from either side of the branches the leaves are rough, papery and, oh, so fragrant to the touch. In tropical and subtropical locations, tiny, white blossoms appear at the tips of the branches. Today, lemon verbena is cultivated in southern France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy and Tunisia for essential oil production. Southern France is believed to produce the best oil. Lemon verbena grows wild on the roadsides and rain forests of Costa Rica, Mexico and Central America. Their location and the countries’ lack of accessible transportation makes it difficult to produce a commercial product. The fresh leaves make a delicious tea, enjoyed by the local morenos.
Steam distillation of the leaves yields this elegant essential oil. One hundred pounds of leaves produces several ounces of essential oil. Pure oil contains up to forty percent citral, which produces the lemon scent of essential oils. However, pure lemon verbena essential oil is not available or very, very rare. Commercially available oil has lemon grass oil added, which is much less expensive and much more available.
Whenever possible, cultivate lemon verbena in a pot or your garden. It’s delightful to rub the leaves and experience the unique, intense odor on a summer morning. During winter months, the plant loses its leaves, only to reappear in the spring in southern gardens. Add crushed, fresh leaves to cold and hot drinks for a new taste sensation.
The aroma of essential oil dilutions on a hot summer day is refreshing and cooling, relieving the lassitude from the summer heat. Lemon verbena is an excellent aroma to increase endurance and to aid in the function, especially concentration, as it increases overall physical energy. Release a few drops into a room using an aroma lamp to enhance enthusiasm and joy.
For nausea and dizziness, lemon verbena can be sprinkled on a clean handkerchief and held near the nose. For chronic conditions, make the following simple dilution.
Nausea and Dizziness Blend
In 1 ounce of carrier oil, dilute 10 drops of lemon verbena. Allow to cure 3 hours before applying a few drops on each side of the neck. Massage a drop on each temple, if tolerated. Repeat daily until symptoms abate. Refrigerate left over blend in a dark, glass bottle with a tight fitting screw cap.
For irregular heartbeat or tachycardia, use the following blend and see a physician as soon as possible. Menopausal women often experience these symptoms due to low hormone levels. This blend will help reduce symptoms only.
In 1 ounce of carrier oil, combine the following essential oils:
10 drops of Lemon verbena
5 drops of Lemon balm
3 drops of Lavendula
Allow to cure 3 hours when possible. Apply 5 drops on the chest and massage using firm, circular strokes. Repeat the application and massage on the upper back. This routine may be repeated three times in twenty four hours.
Bottle left over blend in dark glass with a tight fitting, screw cap. Refrigerate leftovers.
Historically lemon verbena has been used to help women during childbirth. The oil or a strong tea made from the leaves stimulates uterine contractions. Medical research has verified this.
Today, verbaline is extracted from the fresh plant to stimulate uterine contractions. Room diffusion or other inhalent methods are beneficial during childbirth. During pregnancy, it is best to avoid lemon verbena. The essential oil has also been used after childbirth to stimulate milk production to allow the milk to “let down”. It can be especially useful during the first weeks of nursing. The “let down” response helps the baby nurse successfully and reduces painful “back up” of milk in the breasts. A few drops of lemon verbena essential oil on a handkerchief can be used by the mother, or diffusing the oil in an aroma lamp also helps. Never use the essential oil internally.
To alleviate painful breasts, a cold compress can be used.
Compress for Nursing Mothers
Prepare a cold compress by soaking a clean cotton or flannel cloth in filtered water containing several small pieces of ice. Saturate the cloth, then remove excess water. Add 10 drops of lemon verbena essential oil onto several areas of the cloth. Roll the cloth to assure the essential oil infuses all areas of the cloth. Quickly apply the compress onto the breasts for 5 to 10 minutes. Roll the cloth and place it in the freezer for several minutes and repeat the application. Refrigerate the cloth for later use. Add 5 drops of essential oil onto the cloth right before application. Repeat the application twice daily to reduce breast pain and increase milk flow. Clean the breasts thoroughly before nursing.
Lemon verbena has a wonderful scent that increases joy and stamina. It contributes a delicious aroma to a personal perfume.
In 1 dram, 3.7 ml., of jojoba oil add the following essential oils:
10 drops of Lemon Verbena
2 drops of Jasmine
15 drops of Noroli
Allow to cure 3 days. Adjust the blend, adding 2 to 5 more drops of lemon verbena. Cure overnight or longer, up to 7 days, before application. Store away from heat and direct light. Use within 6 months.
Lemon verbena makes a refreshing, energizing face and body Spritz. Keep it in the refrigerator during the hot summer months and spray your face and body after gardening or exercising. It feels great as it gently cleans the skin.
In 4 ounces of distilled, or purified water, add 10 drops of Lemon verbena. Bottle in glass or double walled plastic with a fine, screw top mister. Allow to cure 3 hours before misting. It can be cured in the refrigerator, cold and ready to spray. Store remaining refreshing spray in the refrigerator, or a cool dark place. Add 10% if not used completely within 3 days.
Weak connective tissue is strengthened by lemon verbena. Many aromatherapists use it in a sports massage oil.
Blend to Strengthen Connective Tissue, Collagen
In 4 ounces of carrier oil, add the following essential oils:
15 drops of Sweet Orange
20 drops of Lemon Verbena
3 drops of Benzoin Styrax or Tonka bean
10 drops of Bergamot
Bottle in dark glass with a tight fitting screw top. Cure overnight in a cool, dark place. Massage affected areas of tight muscles, loose skin, weak ligaments or connective tissue. This is excellent massage oil for those with collagen disease. Refrigerate remaining blend. Use with 6 months and enjoy!