Cannabis may be the rock star of the medicinal plant world, but it’s certainly not the only plant to contain healing terpenes and cannabinoids. The Lemonbush, Lippia javanica, a common shrub in East and Southern Africa, has several terpenes and cannabinoids of medicinal benefit. Also known as Fever tea (or Zumbani, in the local Shona language), the Lemonbush is part of the Verbena family. Its fragrant leaves make a tasty herbal tea, and have long been consumed for their multiple health benefits. In this episode (his second on this plant), Gus, the African Plant Hunter, delves deeper into some of its medicinal compounds: Myrcene (subject of the fabled “Mango Myth”), Linalool (the sedative compound in lavender) and Caryophyllene (a potent anti-inflammatory). Sadly Lemonbush has not yet been put through the regulatory hoops for sale in the West, so if you want to try it, you’ll have to travel to Africa to do so!

For more on the properties of Lippia javanica, see the following:

  1. Beniot, F., Valentin, A., Pelissier, Y., Diafouka, F., Marion, C., Kone-Bamba, D., Kone, M., Mallie, M., Yapo, A., Bastide, J.M., 1996.  In vitro antimalarial activity of vegetal extracts used in West African traditional medicine.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 54 (1): 67-71
  2. Campbell, A., 1986.  The use of wild food plants, and drought in Botswana.  Journal of Arid Environments 11: 81-91. 
  3. McGaw, L.J., Jäger, A.K., van Staden, J., 2000.  Antibacterial, anthelmintic and anti-amoebic activity in South African medicinal plants.  Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72: 247-263.  (Also mentions Aloes, & Marula.)
  4. S. S. Semenya and A. Maroyi, “Medicinal plants used for the treatment of tuberculosis by Bapedi traditional healers in three districts of the Limpopo Province, South Africa,” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 316–323, 2013
  5. Prozesky, E.A., Meyer, J.J.M., Louw, A.I., 2001.  In vitro antiplasmodial activity and cytotoxicity of ethnobotanically selected South African plants.  Journal of Ethnopharmacology 76: 239-245.
  6. de Wet, S. Nciki, and S. F. van Vuuren, “Medicinal plants used for the treatment of various skin disorders by a rural community in northern Maputaland, South Africa,” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, vol. 9, article 51, 2013
  7. Mujovo, S. F., et al., (2008). Bioactive compounds from Lippia javanica and Hoslundia opposita, Natural Product Research (2008), Vol. 22, Issue. 12, pp.1047-1054
  8. Samie, A., et al., (2009). Crude extracts of, and purified compounds from, Pterocarpus angolensis, and the essential oil of Lippia javanica: their in-vitro cytotoxicities and activities against selected bacteria and Entamoeba histolytica. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, Vol. 103, Issue. 5, pp.429-439
  9. Nzira, L., et al., (2009). Lippia javanica (Burm F) Spreng: its general constituents and bioactivity on mosquitoes, Tropical biomedicine, Vol. 26, Issue. 1, pp. 85-91
  10. Madzimure, J., et al., (2011). Acaricidal efficacy against cattle ticks and acute oral toxicity of Lippia javanica (Burm F.) Spreng, Tropical Animal Health and Production, Vol. 42, Issue. 2, pp. 481-489
  11. Manenzhe, N. J., et al., (2004). Composition and antimicrobial activities of volatile components of Lippia javanica, Phytochemistry, Vol. 65, Issue. 16, pp.2333-2336
  12. Valentin, A., et al., (1995). Composition and antimalarial activity in vitro of volatile components of Lippia multiflora, Phytochemistry, Vol.40, Issue. 5, pp.1439-1442
  13. Magano, S. R., et al., (2011). In vitro investigation of the repellent effects of the essential oil of Lippia javanica on adults of Hyalomma marginatum rufipes, African Journal of Biotechnology ,Vol. 10(44), pp. 8970-8975, 15 August, 2011
  14. Viljoen, A. M., et al., (2005). The composition, geographical variation and antimicrobial activity of Lippia javanica (Verbenaceae) leaf essential oils, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2005, 96 (1-2): 271-7
  15. Dlamini, T. P., (2008). Isolation and characterization of bio-active compounds from Lippia javanica, Institute Repository and Scholarly communication, University of Joharnesburgh, South Africa.
  16. Olivier, D. K., et al., (2010). Phenylethanoid glycosides from Lippia javanica, South African Journal of Botany, Vol. 76, Issue. 1, pp. 58-63.
  17. L. S. Chagonda and J.-C. Chalchat, “Essential oil composition of Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) spreng chemotype from Western Zimbabwe,” Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 482–485, 2015.