Lippia alba

scientific name: 
Lippia alba (Mill.) N.E. Br.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Aromatic shrub, 1 to 2 m in height, branches long, slender and flexible like willow stems (osier-like), decumbent, lower basal branches can become long rooting suckers, densely puberulent or strigose.  Leaves opposite or ternate, briefly petiolate, 2-6 (rarely 9) cm long and 1.2-4.5 cm wide, oblong, corrugate, crenate, covered with short small hairs (pubescent) and prominent veins.  Inflorescences in globose axillary heads, cylindrical upon fructification.  Bracts ovate, acuminate, the inferior ones mucronate.  Flowers zygomorphic; calyx 1.5-1.7 mm in length and accrescent when ripe; corolla purple with yellow and white fauces (the throat of a gamopetalous corolla), pink or white, 4 to 5 mm in length.  Fruit obovoid, 3 mm in diameter.






fresh leaf, decoction, orally1


  fresh leaf, decoction, orally3


fresh aerial parts, decoction, orally2,22

For flu and common cold:

Prepare an infusion: add 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water to 7.5 grams of previously washed and chopped fresh leaves (approximately 20 medium-sized leaves) or aerial parts. Cover the pot and let the preparation settle for 5-10 minutes.  Filter and drink 1 cup 3 times a day.

According to published and other information:

Uses for flu and common cold are classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies and available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should flu or common cold symptoms persist for more than 7 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

TRAMIL Research17

The lyophilized aqueous extract obtained from decoction of the fresh leaf was orally administered (5 g/kg/day during 5 days) to 10 NGP mice (5 males and 5 females).  The control vehicle was distilled water (0.5 mL) given to another group of 10 mice of the same strain and characteristics.  They were observed for a seven-day period after administration of the treatment and control vehicle.  During the assay, there was no mortality and there were no signs of toxicity in the assessed parameters.

TRAMIL Research18-19

The lyophilized aqueous extracts at a concentration of 312.5 mg/mL obtained from the decoction of the aerial parts of Lippia alba (from Guatemala) and ofLippia alba var. dulce (from Costa Rica) were orally administered (5 g/kg/day during 5 days) to 10 Hsd:ICR(CD-1) mice (5 males and 5 females).  The methodology was carried out according to the OCDE 423 protocol as modified by LEBi.  The control vehicle was distilled and de-ionized water (0.4 mL) given to another group of 10 mice, same strain, same characteristics.  They were observed for a twelve-day period.  During the assay and subsequent observation period, there was no mortality and there were no signs of toxicity.  There were no changes in the body weight other than would normally be expected based on the mice's growth curve.

Infusion of the dried leaf (12.5 g/kg) orally administered for 5 consecutive days to rats did not cause gastric irritation13.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the leaf administered intraperitoneally to mice showed an LD50 > 1 g/kg20.

Species of the genus Lippia have been classified as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)21.

The decoction of the fresh leaf (12-20 g/L) administered orally at doses of 120-240 mL of preparation, up to a maximum of 720 mL/day during 15 days caused no clinically observable signs of adverse effects in 1000 patients under phytotherapeutical treatment16.

There is no available information documenting the safety of use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

The essential oil from the leaf contains monoterpenes: 1,8-cineole, citronellyl acetate, p-cymene, limonene, linalool, linalool acetate, myrcene, α- and ß-pinene, piperitone, sabinene, α-terpineol4, camphor, (DL)-dihydrocarvone, citral, (-)limonene, lippione, (+)α-pinene, (-)piperitone5, sesquiterpenes: caryophyllene4, alkanes: methyl decyl ketone, methyl octyl ketone5.

The composition of the essential oil varies widely depending on the ecological conditions in which the species grows6.  At least nine chemotypes have been described based on the composition of the essential oil and, regarding the presence of citral, (+)α-linalool, myrcene, limonene, carvone, eucalyptol, ɣ-terpinene and δ-piperitone, among others7.

The composition of the essential oil of 16 populations of this species collected in Guatemala showed that 14 of them belonged to the chemotype with myrcenone and Z-ocimenone as main constituents; while 2 were of the citral chemotype, containing 1,8-cineole, neral and geranial.  In addition, 2 morphotypes were identified that evidenced a positive match with the chemotypes, which leads us to infer the existence of two subspecies of Lippia alba in Guatemala8.

The phytochemical screening of the leaf showed the presence of alkalo

The hydroalcoholic extract from the leaf (50 g of plant material in 500 mL of ethanol 88%) showed antibacterial effects in vitro at doses of 50 µL/disk of filter paper against Streptococcus pneumoniae, S. pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus10.

The lyophilized aqueous extract (infusion) (1:5) from the dried leaf and stem, powdered, showed effects in vitro against influenza type A virus, bovine viral diarrhea type 1 and herpes virus type 111.

The ethanolic extract (95%) from the plant showed effects (LD = 50 µg/mL) against herpes simplex 1 virus in cell culture12.

The infusion of the dried leaf (12.5 g/kg) administered orally to rats for 5 consecutive days decreased the formation of gastric ulcers induced by indomethacin (50 mg/kg, orally)13.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the fresh leaf orally administered to mice (1 g of extract/kg) significantly induced analgesia in the writhing and tail flick models14.

The essential oils of the leaf of three different chemotypes collected at the same time decreased rectal temperature of male Swiss mice, on a dose-dependent basis, when administered intraperitoneally (100 and 200 mg/kg).  In the same assay, anxiolytic and sedative activity was observed at a dosage equal to or higher than 25 mg/kg, with no alteration of locomotive activity15.

In the phytotherapeutical practice of a healthcare center, 1000 patients were treated with the decoction of the fresh leaf (12-20 g/L) by oral administration at doses of 120-240 mL per day for 15 days.  In 80% of patients, the result was an improvement of their digestive colic condition16.




1 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

2 DELENS M, 1992 Encuesta TRAMIL en los Estados Lara y Sucre de Venezuela. Centro al Servicio de la Acción Popular CESAP, Caracas, Venezuela.


Encuesta TRAMIL (Comunidades afro-caribeñas). Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

4 CATALAN C, MEREP D, RETAMAR J, 1977 The essential oil of Lippia alba from the Tucuman province. Riv Ital Essenze Profumi Piante Offic Aromi Saponi Cosmet Aer 59: 513-518.

5 FESTER G, MARTINUZZI E, RETAMAR J, RICCIARDI A, 1955 Some volatile essential oils. VII. Rev Fac Ing Quim 24: 37-55.

6 CASTRO DM, MING LC, MARQUES MO, TANAKA FA, 2000 Anatomic characterization and chemical composition of essential oils of different leaves of Lippia alba (Mill.) stem axis. 1er Congreso Peruano de Plantas Medicinales y Fitoterapía, 27-30 Septiembre 2000, Lima, Perú:112-114.

7 BANDONI A, 2003 Los recursos vegetales aromáticos en Latinoamérica: su aprovechamiento industrial para la producción de aromas y sabores. Buenos Aires, Argentina: CYTED, 2 ed., CD-ROM, ISBN:987-43-6072-0.

8 FISCHER U, LOPEZ R, POLL E, VETTER S, NOVAK J, FRANZ CM, 2004 Two chemotypes within Lippia alba populations in Guatemala. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 19(4):333-335.

9 BANDONI A, MENDIONDO M, RONDINA R, COUSSIO J, 1976 Survey of Argentine medicinal plants. Folklore and phytochemical screening. II. Econ Bot 30: 161-185.

10 CACERES A, ALVAREZ AV, OVANDO AE, SAMAYOA BE, 1991 Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of respiratory diseases. 1. Screening of 68 plants against gram-positive bacteria. J Ethnopharmacol 31(2):193-208.

11 RUFFA MJ, WAGNER ML, SURIANO M, VICENTE C, NADINIC J, PAMPURO S, SALOMON H, CAMPOS RH, CAVALLARO L, 2004 Inhibitory effect of medicinal herbs against RNA and DNA viruses. Antivir Chem Chemother 15(3):153-159.

12 ABAD MJ, BERMEJO P, VILLAR A, PALOMINO SS, CARRASCO L, 1997 Antiviral activity of medicinal plant extracts. Phytother Res 11(3):198-202.

13 PASCUAL ME, SLOWING K, CARRETERO ME, VILLAR A, 2001 Antiulcerogenic activity of Lippia alba (Mill.) N. E. Brown (Verbenaceae). Farmaco. 56(5-7):501-504.

14 COSTA M, DI STASI L, KIRIZAWA M, MENDACOLLI S, GOMES C, TROLIN G, 1989 Screening in mice of some medicinal plants used for analgesic purposes in the state of Sao Paulo. J Ethnopharmacol 27(1/2):25-33.

15 VALE TG, MATOS FJA, DE LIMA TCM, VIANA GSB, 1999 Behavioral effects of essential oils from Lippia alba (Mill.) N.E. Brown chemotypes. J Ethnopharmacol 167:127-133.

16 CARBALLO A, 1994 Plantas medicinales del Escambray Cubano. Apuntes científicos.

17 GarcIa GM, Coto MT, GonzAlez CS, OCAMPO R, Pazos L, 2001 Toxicidad aguda en ratones, del extracto acuoso de hoja fresca de Lippia alba. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos LEBI, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

18 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, 2003 Toxicidad oral, aguda en ratón, del extracto acuoso de partes aéreas de Lippia alba var. dulce. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

19 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, QUIROS S, 2004 Toxicidad oral, aguda en ratón, dosis repetidas, del extracto acuoso de partes aéreas de Lippia alba. Informe TRAMIL.Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

20 BHAKUNI D, DHAR M, DHAR M, DHAWAN B, GUPTA B, SRIMALI R, 1971 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity. Part III. Indian J Exp Biol 9:91.

21 Code of Federal Regulations, 2004 Food and drugs. Chapter I - Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human services. Part 182 - Substances generally recognized as safe. Sec. 182.10. Spices and other natural seasonings and flavorings. U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access, USA. 21(3):451-452. Nov.13,2004, URL:

22 BENEDETTI MD, MEJIA A, ACOSTA D, 1994 Encuesta TRAMIL. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.