The Sweet herb, or also Aztec sweet herb (Lippia dulcis), is still relatively unknown to us as a medicinal herb. In his American homeland of Mexico, on the other hand, it has been traditional folk medicine for centuries, if not millennia. Characteristic of the sweet smelling plant is not only a high sugar content, but also a considerable content of camphor, which makes the plant a highly valued remedy for respiratory diseases and painful inflammation in Mexico. Our contribution below tells you what else Lippia dulcis can do and how the plant is best used as a medicinal herb.
Caution, risk of confusion! Lippia dulcis should not be confused with stevia, which is also known as sweet herb. Although both plants are so-called sweetener plants, the Aztec sweet herb cannot be used as a sweetener due to its high camphor content.
Wanted poster for sweet herb
Plant genus: Sweet herbs (Lippia)
Plant family: Verbena Family (Verbenaceae)
Popular name: Tzopelic Xihuitl, sweet lemon shrub, Mexican Lippia herb, sweet oregano
Occurrence: Central America, Mexico
- flu infections
- to cough
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Parts of plants used: Leaves, flowers, roots
Together with lemon verbena, Aztec sweet herb belongs to the so-called verbena family (Verbenaceae). There are special flavors in these plants in the family. And the high ornamental value in the garden is relatively common among the Verbenaceae. In the case of Lippia dulcis, this consists on the one hand of the delicately toothed, egg-shaped leaves, which have a greenish-red play of colors during the flowering period. On the other hand, the heady inflorescences of the sweet herb also look very decorative. Like the leaves of the plant, they exude a sweet scent that magically attracts not only human garden visitors, but also a number of beneficial organisms.
tip: The plant, which is up to 60 centimeters high, has a creeping habit and is therefore ideal as a ground cover. It does not need excessive care, but it should be pointed out that the exotic plants do not tolerate frost and must therefore be hibernated in our house.
Sweet cabbage only became known in Europe in the 16th century after the Spanish physician Francisco Hernández first described the plant in 1578 in his work "Rerum Medicarum Histora". Lippia dulcis was known much earlier in the Aztecs of Central America, however here under the name Tzonpelic Xihuitl. Native Americans used the herb as a panacea for respiratory diseases and colic. In modern times, the medical use of sweet herb has expanded significantly and now includes the following health complaints:
- Respiratory problems (e.g. asthma, shortness of breath, bronchitis, cold and cough);
- Gastrointestinal complaints (e.g. diarrhea, colic, gastrointestinal flu or constipation);
- other health problems (e.g. menstrual disorders or circulatory disorders).
Ingredients and effects
As far as the sweet taste and the healing effects of Aztec sweet herb are concerned, the plant's essential oils are decisive. They contain some active ingredients that are well known in medicine, the health value of which is largely documented.
The sweet herb owes its extreme sweetness above all to the sesquiterpene hernandulcin. It was unmistakably named after the plant's first descriptor, Francisco Hernández, and is about 300 times sweeter than stevia and 500 to 1000 times sweeter than sugar. Since it also has few calories, researchers have already suggested terpene as a natural sweetener. However, caution is required here, because sweet herb contains other terpenes in addition to hernandulcin, the dosage of which must not be without measure. An example of this is the high camphor content in Lippia dulcis. The monoterpene is for its
- respiratory relief,
- cardiovascular strengthening,
- antispasmodic as well
- muscle and nerve soothing
Known effect, however, overdosing of the active ingredient can easily lead to eye and respiratory irritation, as well as nausea and perception problems. The reason for this are the sharp burning properties of the fighter. When dosed well, they are able to clear mucous airways and are therefore particularly valued for colds. However, the aggressive aspect of martial acuity predominates, which in addition to irritation also causes nerve disorders. The thymol in sweet cabbage is much milder. Like camphor, it has one
- and antifungal
Effect, but is much gentler on the organism. The antifungal (anti-fungal) property of thymol predestines the active ingredient for disinfecting the skin and mucous membranes. In addition, the terpene is often used as an additive for antimicrobial mouthwash and toothpaste. The fresh taste of thymol in combination with its airway-relieving effect is a positive side effect even with respiratory diseases.
A final, important ingredient in sweet herb is quercetin. The yellow natural dye is one of the flavonoids that are commonly used for their
- vascular protective,
- Cardiovascular stimulating
- and sometimes cancer-inhibiting
Effects are known. The quercetin in Lippia dulcis applies to all of these healing effects, which explains the positive effect of the medicinal herb for menstrual and circulatory disorders.
By the way: The anti-spasmolytic effect of sweet herb, its healing power for cramps in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and abdomen, has now been scientifically proven. The herb was therefore recommended by the responsible researchers in particular for the treatment of bronchospasm.
Application and dosage
Sweet herb can be harvested all year round. When cooking, sweet cabbage can be used primarily for sweet fruit salads, fruit juices, smoothies, cold or curd dishes. Medicinally, in addition to the aromatic leaves, the flowers and the rhizome of the plant can also be used. The herb can either be chewed or processed further, or dried for later use. It is, however, recommended to use fresh sweet herb primarily as the healing hernandulcin in particular evaporates quickly during the drying process.
Cold extract from sweet herb
The most traditional form of application, for example for the treatment of colds or coughs, is in addition to chewing the fresh parts of the plant in sweet cabbage, the presentation as a cold extract (macerate). For this, the fresh root or leaf herbs are placed in lukewarm water and the extract is left to stand for about two to three hours. After sifting the herbs, the macerate can then be drunk in small sips.
Sweet herb tea
As an alternative to the cold extraction, the preparation of a tea is also possible. Thanks to its warmth, it also has a relaxing and strengthening effect on the body. However, the tea should not be brewed too hot, since extreme heat will destroy the plant's ingredients just as quickly as drying. It is best to use slightly cooled cooking water for the tea and let the brew steep for about ten minutes before consuming it.
tip: The minty-sweet taste of Lippia dulcis, as well as the disinfectant properties of the medicinal herb, make it ideal for use in the field of oral hygiene. Cold extracts and decoctions can also be used wonderfully for mouthwashes.
Sweet herb tincture
Finished tinctures from sweet herb are unfortunately very rarely found here. However, you can easily make a corresponding tincture yourself, provided you have a little patience. Simply take some clear alcohol (e.g. vodka, schnapps or brandy) and soak the sweet herb in it for about four weeks. The extract should be allowed to ripen in sunlight in a clear glass container during this time before the herbs are screened and the tincture is placed in a dark bottle for storage.
It should be pointed out again that Lippia dulcis must not be used as a sugar substitute without restrictions. An overdose of the medicinal active ingredients could lead to skin and mucous membrane irritation, especially with regard to camphor. Furthermore, nausea, anxiety, shortness of breath and confusion with a camphor overdose are not uncommon. In the worst case, there is even a risk of memory loss (amnesia), apathy and epileptic seizures.
In addition, pregnant women and patients with kidney problems should completely avoid sweet herb. In kidney patients, the herb could further worsen the already damaged kidney functions. In pregnant women, there is also a risk of miscarriage and developmental disorders in the baby due to massive sweet herb effects on the nervous system. (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Osuji, Goson, et al .: "Molecular Regulation of the Metabolic Pathways of the Medicinal Plants: Phyla dulcis", in: American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6 (11), 2015, scirp.org
- Zuccarini, Paolo: "Camphor: Risks and benefits of a widely used natural product", in: Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Volume 14 No 2, 2009, African Journals Online
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