Monday, November 17, 2014

They Said What About My Favorite, Lemon Verbena?

An Interesting Insect on My Favorite!
I've gone into overdrive inside with herbal chores, but I took some time out the other day to pick up a couple or more books and checked out what they had to say about lemon verbena.  I was surprised by what I found.

In the Handbook on Culinary Herbs from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1982) said under Horticultural Use:   "No special horticultural value" -- that hurts!  It is a very beautiful plant that doesn't overpower the herb garden and has a fabulous lemon smell.  Very special horticultural value if you ask me!

Jane Newdick in The Magic of Herbs (1991) talks about "infusing leaves to make a mouth cleanser; lemon verbena is said to strength teeth and gums as well as prevent tooth decay."  I will be using this tip!

In The Complete Book of Herbs (1994) by Andi Clevely and Katherine Richmond say "hot leaf pulp is effective against toothache.   Caution:  Large doses or prolonged use can cause internal irritation.  Also they have a recipe for a lemon verbena hair rinse.  It stimulates the pores and circulation.  1 handful of lemon verbena leaves and l cup boiling water.  1.   Pour the boiling water over the lemon verbena leaves and leave to soak for at least 1 hour.  2.  Strain the mix and discard the leaves.  Pour this rinse over your hair after conditioning."

Stephen Orr in The American Herbal (2014) talks about "large doses of lemon verbena tea can cause gastric irritation."  I would hope that would be an extreme amount!

But in the next book I read, Jekka McVicar says in Herbs for the Home (1995) "that a cup of tea before bedtime is refreshing and has mild sedative properties; it can also soothe bronchial and nasal congestion and ease indigestion.  However, long-term use may cause stomach irritation."  The next time I have sleep difficulties or indigestion, I will try a cup of my favorite, lemon verbena.

In Homegrown Tea (2014) which started this whole idea about this post, Cassie Liversidge gives a warning about lemon verbena that it "can occasionally cause skin irritation when touched, as the leaves are slightly rough.  Handle with gloves if your skin is sensitive.  Known to cause contact dermatitis, so handle with care."  I just have never heard of this in any other book until...

Rodale's 21st Century Herbal (2014) by Michael J. Balick gives the same caution as Cassie Liversidge--"Caution:  lemon verbena can cause contact dermatitis in some people."  I looked in an earlier version of Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987) and it isn't mentioned in it.

So I am going to continue my research because I would like to get to the bottom of the causes dermatitis issue and because I have had dermatitis problems with angelica.  Fortunately, I have not had dermatitis issues with my beloved lemon verbena!  My search hasn't ended.  If any readers have a early dermatitis passage on lemon verbena, please share it.  Thanks!  

Hope you have had a great day.  The snow never materialized here.  There were flakes in the air but no snow on the ground.  A couple very cold nights and one cold day and we will be back to normal by the weekend.  Talk to you later.


Unknown said...

I adoooorrrrre this blog entry! I am a lemon verbena lover as well! Just harvested a big load from our garden and my skin is itching like crazy! Googled it and came across your writing. Was hoping there'd be comments from others sharing their experiences. I feel maybe my gut bacteria is off (have had other symptoms showing it may be time for me to get things clean & balanced) so maybe I'm extra sensitive to the cleansing properties in lemon verbena. Or have a mild allergy? I'm literally obsessed with it and it's healing, joy-bringing aroma. Haven't tried to drink a tea from it yet. So I'll see if that is an irritant for me too. Thank you for sharing your research, passion & curiosity!

Unknown said...

Thank you! Got itchy when harvesting mine. Grateful to read your post :)

KiOhmA said...

Great read! I grow hundreds of lemon verbena plants and mixed with sweat while harvesting I came down with my first ever contact dermatitis. Treated as poison oak because that’s how it looked and acted. With all the smoke in the air, every ones immune systems are being taxed and I’ve found reactions to things not normally bothered by. Yesterday my daughter harvested some- something she has done millions of times, but yesterday the arm she carried it in is covered in a rash. We are treating it with home made poison oak type remedies and it’s going away. Heat spreads it - so no hot baths. Cold baths, ice packs and alcohol based herbal tinctures are drying it up, but yes- it does happen.