Good Sleeping with Lemon Verbena

Jeanne Rose

Verbena Aloysia triphylla (Lippia citriodora Kunth. syn. Verbena triphylla L'Herit.)

General Information. This scent is strongly citrus with a floral note and a woody finish.  It is expensive and often other oils are substituted for it. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.  The tea is helpful for sleeping, the hydrosol has the opposite effect and when sprayed on the face, it can help to keep you awake on a long drive.

Name Verbena means sacred boughs and plants used medicinally; Aloysia is after Maria Louise, the Princess of Parma who died in 1819 and triphylla means leaves in whorls of threes.

Use of the Herb The herb tea is very useful as a tonic beverage to be taken before bed for sleeping. It is a delicious tea and can be drunk anytime as it is relaxing and soothing (1 heaping T/cup of water). It has found use in the treatment of Crohn's disease that is an anti-inflammatory disease that affects the gastro-intestinal tract.

The herb tea is different from the herbal infusion taken for a particular condition.

            Sleeping Potion: Take a large handful of the herb; add 2 cups of boiling water (do not boil the herb), steep in a covered container for 15 minutes. Strain out the infusion, add honey and drink just before bedtime or if you wake up in the middle of the night. The herbal beverage does not need to be drunk hot to be effective. You can also mix this with a Chamomile tea, leave beside the bed and drink if you wake up in the night.

When to Distill Distill the leaves before flowering, discard the heavier stems. During or after flowering, citral is reduced while other components are increased.

Scent Green, vegetative, herbaceous and floral with a strong citrus character.  It is different from either Melissa or Lemon peel.

Chemistry of the Essential Oil Chemical components are identified as 35-40% citral (a combination of neral and geranial); 13% limonene, 6% citronellol, 6% geraniol, nerol 5%; many other components. Essential Oils 1976-1992 by Brian Lawrence.

Use of the Essential Oil This essential oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory, fever reducer and sedative. It is generally inhaled for stress, insomnia, depression, and nervous fatigue and to help during an asthmatic crisis. Strongly anti-viral, it is applied directly to a cold sore to reduce pain and symptoms.

Sources These two plants are available as hydrosol and essential oil and available from a variety of companies.   For a list, please contact the Aromatic Plant Project or Prima Fleur at 415/455-0957.


Perfumer & Flavorist. Vol. 24, May/June 1999, p 52.

Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols. Frog 1999.

Rose, Jeanne. An Herb for Skin Care. Aromatic Plant Project Press Release. March 2000.

Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. Last Gasp. 2001


Author Background Jeanne Rose has been working as an educator in herbs and aromatherapy since 1967. She has written over 18 books and would be happy to send you a catalog of books and products if you will leave your name and address at 415/564-6785 or

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