phytochemicals Phytochemicals

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Verbena officinalis

What is verbena?

Verbena is e weedy perennial herb with angular stems and widely spaced opposite leaves. The white to purple flowers are small and have five petals.

Parts used

The aboveground parts are used and are collected while flowering.


These are typical phytochemicals found in verbena: verbenalin, citral, verbenalin, verbenin, hastoside, caffeic acid, beta-sitosterol.

Benefits of verbena

Verbena is used as diuretic, expectorant and bitter tonic. It is used to treat skin disorders and helps to heal wounds. Verbena is also used to stimulate the production of milk during breastfeeding. It is also used to treat many diseases such as fever, asthma, metabolic disorders and cough.

Scientific studies about verbena

Scientific studies have demonstrated following effects: anti-cancer, antioxidant and skin protection.


A Chinese study conducted on mice at the Xinxiang Medical University found that Verbena officinalis extract had in vivo anti-tumor effect while causing no damage on the immune function [1].


A herbal infusion increased superoxide dismutase activity and decreased lipid peroxidation but did not change other oxidative stress markers in rats with chemically induced intestinal inflammation. The researchers concluded that preventive consumption of lemon verbena infusion offered some antioxidative protection during experimental colitis [2]. The proapoptotic activity of Verbena officinalis essential oil and its main component citral is thought to be due to a direct procaspase 3 activation. The researcher came to this concllusion after evaluating the pro-apoptotic activity of Verbena officinalis essential oil and citral, on lymphocytes collected from normal blood donors and patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia [3].

Skin protection

Verbena officinalis has traditionally been used in herbal medicine in the treatment of topical inflammation. The anti-inflammatory activity of Verbena extract was investigated in a carrageenan-induced edema. The effect of the Verbena extract was similar to that of piroxicam gel, a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug. The topical analgesic activity of the Verbena extract was less than the analgesic activity of methyl salicylate ointment [4]. A similar study using the carrageenan oedema model also found anti-inflammatory activity of different Verbena extracts. Following phytochemicals were identified in the extracts: beta-sitosterol, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, 3-epiursolic acid, 3-epioleanolic acid, triterpenoids of derivatives of ursolic acid and oleanolic acids, verbenalin, hastatoside and verbascoside [5].

Other facts

Verbena originates from the Mediterranean but grows now in all continents. Verbena is often used in gardens as ornamental plants. They are drought-resistant and can tolerate full sun.

Other names

Vervain, vervaine, eisenkraut


[1] Study on in-vivo anti-tumor activity of Verbena officinalis extract. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013 Apr 12;10(3):512-7.
[2 Lemon verbena infusion consumption attenuates oxidative stress in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in the rat. Dig Dis Sci. 2011 Dec;56(12):3534-45.
[3] Verbena officinalis essential oil and its component citral as apoptotic-inducing agent in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct-Dec;22(4):1097-104.
[4] Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of the topical preparation of Verbena officinalis L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Oct 11;107(3):380-2.
[5] Anti-inflammatory activity and chemical composition of extracts of Verbena officinalis. Phytother Res. 2000 Sep;14(6):463-5.

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