Lippia javanica


Lippia javanica


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Fever tea, lemon bush, koorsbossie beukesbossie, lemoenbossie, mutswane, umsutane, umsuzwane,


Lippia javanica is a plant reaching a height of 1m to 2m, the multi-stemmed and branched plant stands erect in the open fields and forest borders from where it grows.  The thin, elliptic leaves are pubescent with obvious veins and, when crushed or broken, give off a strong, strictly lemon-like odour.  The woody stems are heavily branched, and appear square in shape when observed as a cross-section.  The small, cream-colored flowers bloom all year and are arranged in groups at the apex of the numerous stems.  The fruit borne of the plant are small and inconspicuous and appear at the base of the flower clusters.

Origin / Habitat

L. javanica is a woody shrub native to Southern and Eastern Africa up growing up to an altitude of 2,200m.

Chemical Constituents

Alpha pinene, carvone, cycloheptatriene, beta-phellandrene, careen, eucalyptol, caryophyllene oxide, 4-ethyl-noncosane, tagetenone epoxide, myrcenone, piperitenone, apigenin, cirsimaritin, 6-methoxyluteolin, 4-methyl ether [2][3].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, stems, roots [1].

Traditional Use

L.javanica has been consistently used by traditional African medical practitioners and common peoples for its perceived antimicrobial activity, often in cases of cough or cold.  Typically, the leaves and stems of L.javanica have been made into an infusion and either ingested, or inhaled to alleviate respiratory and bronchial disorders.  The same infusion has also been used topically to treat wounds and dermatological disorders [4].  In some cases, the root has been used in the infusion in addition to the stems and leaves.  The roots of L.javanica  have traditionally been used in Africa to protect against as well as treat malaria, diarrhea, and dysentery [4].

Perhaps due to its potent aromatic properties, L.javanica has also been used as a mosquito repellant, which coincides well with its use as an antimalarial [2].



A preclinical study on the antibacterial effects of the essential oil of L.  javanica was performed in 2005.  The aerial parts of the plant were converted into an essential oil using hydrodistillation.  L. javanica was revealed to have effective antibacterial activity on Klebsiella pneumoniae, Cryptococcus neoformans and Bacillus cereus in a time-kill experiment, lending credence to the traditional usage for respiratory infections.  The greatest reduction of one bacterial species in the study was that of K. pneumoniae [4].

An additional preclinical study was undertaken on the genus Lippia and its perceived usage in digestive and respiratory disorders.  The conclusion was that, most likely, the phenolic compounds found throughout a vast majority of the Lippia genus were responsible for its antimalarial, hypotensive, spasmolytic, and anti-inflammatory activity, though more conclusive and specific studies are needed to further understand the action [5].

Recently, in 2008, eight compounds isolated from L. javanica were tested for their bioactivity against the HIV-1 virus.  Two of the compounds, (E)-2(3)-tagetenone epoxide and 3',4',7-trimethyl ether, were found to inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzyme of HIV-1 by 91 and 53 percent respectively [3].

Tuberculosis – In a pre-clinical study, several compounds were tested against a drug-sensitive strain of M. tuberculosis.  One of the constituents of this herb, euscaphic acid was found to have a slight inhibitory effect [3].


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

L.javanica is generally considered safe when used as directed.

Discontinue use if symptoms of allergic reaction occur.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used by children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Read More

  1)  Western Herbs


  1. South African National Biodiversity Institute. Available at:  [Accessed on 31 August 2009].
  2. Nzira L, Per M, Peter F, Claus B. Lippia javanica (Burm F) Spreng: its general constituents and bioactivity on mosquitoes. Trop Biomed. Apr2009;26(1):85-91.
  3. Mujovo SF, Hussein AA, Meyer JJ, Fourie B, Muthivhi T, Lall N. Bioactive compounds from Lippia javanica and Hoslundia opposita. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(12):1047-1054.
  4. Viljoen AM, Subramoney S, van Vuuren SF, Başer KH, Demirci B. The composition, geographical variation and antimicrobial activity of Lippia javanica (Verbenaceae) leaf essential oils. J Ethnopharmacol. 4Jan2005;96(1-2):271-277.
  5. Pascual ME, Slowing K, Carretero E, Sánchez Mata D, Villar A. Lippia: traditional uses, chemistry and pharmacology: a review.J Ethnopharmacol. Aug2001;76(3):201-214.