Lemon myrtle is a fragrant spice that first originated in the coastal regions of Australia. While the lemon myrtle tree has grown in Australia for thousands of years, the spice’s popularity around the world means that farmers now grow the plant in South Africa, the United States, China, Thailand and Europe. Learn more about the health benefits of lemon myrtle and the different ways that you and your family can enjoy this citrus spice.
About lemon myrtle trees
Lemon myrtle is a traditional Australian food that you can now buy in natural health care stores around the world. In Australia, the first commercial use of lemon myrtle came during World War II, when a soft drink company used the spice to flavor lemonade. Other names for the tree include lemon ironwood and Sweet Verbena.
Producers dry and mill lemon myrtle leaves, and use the processed powder as a tea or an ingredient in various dishes and food products. You can also steam distill the leaves to get lemon myrtle essential oil. According to the Australian Native Food Industry Limited, lemon myrtle has the highest citral content of any plant in the world (more than 90 percent). The strong, fresh and intense citrus notes make this a versatile spice that is popular with many consumers.
Buying and storing lemon myrtle
You can sometimes buy fresh lemon myrtle leaves from some specialty markets, but you’re more likely to find powdered or whole leaves from a health store. The essential oil from lemon myrtle is volatile, so you should ideally buy only a small quantity of freshly produced powder. Store the powder in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For larger quantities, you can store lemon myrtle in the fridge or freezer.
The health benefits of lemon myrtle tea
The main ingredient in lemon myrtle (citral) has several health benefits. You can find citral in lemon and limes, but the concentration in lemon myrtle is higher. Citral is high in antioxidants and also a natural sedative and anti-septic. To enjoy lemon myrtle tea, infuse the leaves in boiling water and let stand for three to five minutes. Remove the leaves and serve.
Antibacterial properties of lemon myrtle
People have used lemon myrtle as a natural remedy for many years, but there is now increasing scientific evidence of the tree’s natural antiviral properties. A Canadian study of children with the molluscum contagiosum, virus (MCV) found that lemon myrtle reduced the number of skin lesions by 90 percent in some of the participants. Scientists intend to carry out more research, and some HIV charities are also interested to find out more about the potential antiviral properties of the spice.
The leaf paste and essential oils from lemon myrtle also have topical antibacterial and antifungal properties against common bacteria. Lemon myrtle can kill staphylococcus aureus, which causes several skin problems. In fact, the Australian government’s Complementary Medicines Evaluation Committee has proposed that consumers use lemon myrtle to treat pimples and acne. As a precaution, if you are using the oil directly on your skin, dilute one drop with another type of vegetable oil.
Lemon myrtle as aromatherapy oil
The rich smell of lemon myrtle is a perfect aroma for men, women or children. The smooth, clean scent is relaxing and can improve concentration or calm down hyperactive kids. It’s also an effective way to get rid of bad room smells. You can use the oil in a burner, air purifier or potpourri. Put two to four drops in an oil burner or 1 drop in a hot bath to help clear your airways.
Lemon myrtle is a versatile, powerful spice that you can use as aromatherapy oil or a tea infusion. This natural remedy boasts a range of health benefits and can even freshen the air in your home. Continue for additional reading.