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Lemon myrtle: the true Aussie Battler of the herbal medicine kingdom

21/08/2011

If the definition of an Aussie Battler is someone who is considered working class, struggles against hardship and yet still earns some due respect, then the Australian herb, lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), can rightly claim this title in the plant kingdom.

Lemon myrtle is an Australian native subtropical plant that is gradually gaining recognition for the great work it is capable of.  It has always played second fiddle to tea tree in the herbal medicine world and has struggled to take its rightful place in the medicine cabinet. In fact, how many of you have even heard of lemon myrtle?  As it’s fairly cheap to produce, it’s often anonymously used in cleaning and food production for its lemony characteristics (it’s even described as being more ‘lemony’ than lemon) but beyond this, it’s largely ignored.

I actually love this lemony herb with its beautiful leaves and uplifting aroma.  It makes wonderful herbal tea (just take a few leaves, crunch them in your hand, add hot water, cover and allow to steep), personal care products and the essential oil itself can be used in many ways.

Probably the area where it really shines, and this comes back to it being a hard worker, is as an antimicrobial agent.  Lemon myrtle has been shown to be superior to tea tree as an antiseptic.

This hard-working Aussie does have a downside though.  It can cause damage to the skin if used undiluted.  However, studies have shown that a 1% dilution can give you the antimicrobial results you desire without harming your skin.  To make this dilution, add 1 drop of 100% pure lemon myrtle oil to 5mL of your preferred carrier oil.

But, the upside far outweighs the downside.  Lemon myrtle has a delightful fragrance.  In my opinion, it is much more appealing than that of tea tree.  Lemony fresh, it clears the mind and uplifts the heart.  It is perfect for adding to the wash with your dirty clothes (think socks, sweaty exercise clothes, sheets and towels). It makes fabulous soaps (the crushed leaves can even be used to exfoliate the skin) and hand wash. I add the essential oil to steam inhalations when I have sinus congestion or clogged pores.  Why, it can even be added to my DIY Salt Scrub recipe.  I like to source my lemon myrtle essential oil from Refreshed Lemon Myrtle, a little company in Byron Bay committed to sustainable production of lemon myrtle products.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ele permalink
    26/01/2012 3:00 pm

    Thanks Sarah great information here. I already use the oil as part of my home made cleaner but didn’t think about putting it in the washing. Ele

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