Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), also known as Sweet Verbena, is an ingredient from a subtropical plant only found in Australia and has been used for medicine and flavoring in Australia for hundreds of years. Its leaves contain oils that are high in citral, a chemical compound that produces a strong lemon odor.
Lemon myrtle is known to be a powerful antimicrobial. Antimicrobials kill and/or stop the growth of microorganisms and are commonly used in medicines to stop or inhibit the growth of dangerous microorganisms in the body—an important tool in controlling or fighting infections. Lemon myrtle is also a great antibiotic. The same properties that make lemon myrtle antimicrobial also make it antibiotic (used for the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections). The oils released in lemon myrtle teas and infusions are safely antibiotic and used frequently around the world to help boost the immune system.
Not only is lemon myrtle antimicrobial and antibiotic, but it is antiseptic as well. While antibiotics help with the control of bacterial infections within the body, antiseptics work their bacterial-fighting magic on the surface of the skin. Lemon myrtle oils are commonly used as a natural antiseptic for skin infections and the like, and adding a few leaves to wash water can have a much softer, but still beneficial effect. Infusions can also be gargled in order to use these antiseptic properties to relieve a sore throat.
Continuing on a similar trend, lemon myrtle is also used as an antiviral medicine. Viral infections are very different to bacterial infections, but lemon myrtle oils and leaves have been widely used in the treatment of both. Antivirals attack viruses, either helping to prevent them taking hold in the body, or to cause them to die more quickly, and infusions made from lemon myrtle have been used by natural health advocates to complement this process.
One of the more well-known properties of lemon myrtle is that it is anti-inflammatory and therefore frequently used in the treatment of congestion and reduction of mucus. By helping to reduce inflammation, lemon myrtle can be used to help with pain and discomfort caused by inflammation without the use of painkillers and steroids. Lemon myrtle is also high in antioxidants, which help to eliminate the body of free radicals caused by oxidization, which have been known to damage cells in the body. These compounds exist naturally in many foods and plants and lemon myrtle is one of those most famous for its high antioxidant content.
The concentration and purity of citral in lemon myrtle leaves and oils result in high levels of Vitamin C—a key vitamin which is essential for the repair of tissue in the body, and the production of enzymes which help the immune system to function. Another well-known benefit of Vitamin C is that it aids iron absorption into the body which helps with tissue and muscle regrowth.
Not only does this Australian native have a wonderful flavor and scent, but it has many medicinal properties that can assist in a wide variety of health issues, from preventing the growth of dangerous microorganisms in the body, to improving the immune system and providing your body with a significant amount of antioxidants and Vitamin C, making it a wonderful plant to include as a part of your daily health routine.