Lemon Balm should be available in every garden! Easy to cultivate, medicinal, aromatic, it’s one of the most versatile plants. (1) What I love to do is crush fresh leaves between my fingers and smell the strong tart flavor. Give it a try, and I’m sure that you will like the delicate harmony of lemon with a hint of mint. Lemon Balm is not only the best natural way to attract bees into your garden or the perfect ingredient to create refreshing summer drinks; there are a heck of a lot of health benefits and uses.
Often used for its calming and relaxing properties, it’s the partner of choice in the fight against stress, irritability, overwork, insomnia, nervousness, and the relief of gastrointestinal spasms.
Furthermore, with antiviral and antifungal properties, it can be used as a preventive and curative treatment against herpes labialis and other bacteria and viruses.
If you are not convinced yet about all the benefits of this incredible herb, here are 10 proven benefits of Lemon Balm.
Recommended Lemon Balm Products
History of the use of Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm (also called Melissa officinalis) has been used for its therapeutic properties since ancient times in many countries.
In ancient Greece, Hippocrates had recognized already its health benefits to calm anxious persons and treat disorders of the nervous system.
In the 10th century, Arabian doctors prescribed it for its antispasmodic effect, to strengthen the heart and fight melancholy. Later, Europeans used Lemon Balm for its calming and regulating effects on the digestive system, and also as an antiviral therapy.
This plant of the mint family grows in all temperate climates all over the world, and nowadays is still extensively used across industries such as cosmetics, perfume or phytotherapy to treat anxiety, nervous troubles and also gastrointestinal problems.
Ten Major Benefits of Lemon Balm
1. Anxiety and Stress
Lemon balm is famous for its exceptional soothing and relaxing properties. In fact, several studies have confirmed the benefits of its use to combat stress and anxiety. (2)
A study, published in 2010, has shown that the regular use of an exclusive melissa extract drug, called Cyracos, helps to reduce stress and anxiety in just two weeks. (3)
According to scientists, Lemon Balm may exert an action on GABA (Gamma-AminoButyric Acid) in our brains. A deficit of this sedating neurotransmitter is likely to play a role in the development of anxiety disorders. Lemon Balm is one of those plants which can help to increase the GABA level, and therefore can buffer the negative effects of stress and anxiety. (4)
The benefits of using lemon balm to combat sleep disorders, particularly when combined with valerian, have already been demonstrated in numerous studies.
For instance, according to a study on people with insomnia, German researchers compared the effectiveness of an extract of lemon balm and valerian, with a sleeping pill (benzodiazepine). The result proved this natural combination to be useful in the combat against insomnia.
3. Herpes cold sores
Lemon balm has antiviral properties, which have proven highly effective in treating and preventing herpes, especially on labial herpes, also known as cold sores. (7)
Applying an anaesthetic ointment that contains an extract of lemon balm helps to fight the herpes virus and reduce recidivism. (8)
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry demonstrated that Melissa officinalis L also has powerful antimicrobial properties. (9)
It is no coincidence, therefore, that The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the external use of Lemon Balm to treat herpes.
4. Upset Stomach
Due to its antispasmodic action, that helps to relax intestine muscles, lemon balm is the ideal ally to ease digestion.
Whether it’s for bloating, eructation, colic, or soothing pain related to digestive troubles, many public health authorities such as WHO and ESCOP, to name but a few, have acknowledged the benefits of lemon balm regarding stomach upsets and the associated symptoms.
Lemon balm’s natural antispasmodic action is also used as a natural solution for painful periods.
Most seniors who have dementia, develop behavioral disturbance or psychiatric disorders, that require therapy and medicine (including neuroleptics) with important side-effects. Under these circumstances, it becomes interesting to practice complementary and alternative medicine.
In particular, some studies have demonstrated promising benefits of using aromatherapy to improve dementia symptoms. A placebo-controlled trial study in the UK found that lemon balm oil provides safe and effective treatment, with a clinically meaningful improvement in patients who have dementia. (10)
Lemon balm and passiflora are well-known to young mothers; for instance, this herbal preparation is an essential combination to relieve infantile colic.
Many studies with positive results, including one including a placebo, evaluated the effect of Lemon balm, in association with other plants (vervain, fennel, licorice), for the treatment of abdominal pains among babies two to eight weeks of age, demonstrating significantly decreased crying time compared to babies who only received a placebo. (11)
It can never be said often enough that before trying any herbal remedy for your little one, always check with your pediatrician.
Lemon balm is a powerful natural antioxidant. For instance, the plant is titrated with rosmarinic acid, a phenolic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties. It fights cell damage caused by stress and cellular aging due to oxidation.
A study, published in 2010, has shown that Lemon Balm has a high capacity to reduce oxidative stress. (12) The study demonstrated a significant reduction of lipid peroxidation and DNA damage after 1.5 grams of lemon balm brewed in 100ml of water, taken every day for 30 days.
No wonder that lemon balm is used in skin-care and anti-aging treatments, with its strong antioxidant potential.
8. Boost Immunity
We all want to boost our immune defenses naturally. The immune system is our foremost ally to protect against every aggression on our body. And to achieve this, lemon balm is particularly effective.
Indeed, its chemical compounds reduce inflammation, fight some viruses and reduce gastrointestinal problems.
Many pharmaceutical preparations aimed at combating virus infections of the skin, such as herpes, are prepared with lemon balm extract.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 which is when the pancreas no longer produces insulin, and in this case, people with diabetes are dependent on daily insulin injections. Type 2 is when the body does not make enough insulin or does not use the insulin properly. For the second type, an important part of the treatment is diet and lifestyle changes.
A recent study highlights a potential opportunity that Lemon balm extract may be suitable for improving liver function and regulating sugar in the bloodstream. (13)
10. Improves cognition
Northumbria University in the UK experimented to investigate the effects of Lemon Balm administration on mood and cognition. The study was carried out on a panel of 20 young students administered doses of encapsulated dried lemon balm leaf or a placebo, at 7-day intervals. Students who had taken Lemon balm scored higher on tests and continued to perform well last up to six hours after the medication intake.
Memory and stress improvements are the most notable effects on mood and cognition. Results also suggest that Melissa officinalis could be a valuable adjunct in Alzheimer’s treatment, due to its memory-enhancing and stress-reducing properties. (14)
My experience with Lemon Balm
The first time I used lemon balm was during an anxiety attack. More specifically, I started to use Valerian Root supplement every night. And after a week, I decided to combine it with a lemon balm tea, to maximize the relaxing effect and improve sleep.
In internal use, herbal tea seems to be a convenient and efficient method to enjoy its properties thoroughly; just poor simmering water over a Lemon balm tea bag, and brew for 5 to 10 minutes.
I usually take one Valerian root 500mg capsule and drink a mug of organic lemon balm tea, one hour before bedtime for two weeks (don’t take it for more than a month without talking to your doctor).
After 5-10 minutes, I could feel very relaxed because of the sedative effect. My advice is to enjoy these natural herbs while you relax. Grab a book, go to bed, and you’re ready to rest and relax. Don’t underestimate the importance of an environment of calm and relaxation.
Apart from the sleep-inducing effect, I felt less oppressed by my anxiety, which could be due to the GABA increase. After half an hour, you will start to fall asleep.
One thing that I appreciate about this natural remedy is the quality of sleep. For instance, I have tried Melatonin to combat the effects of jet lag. I could feel the benefits of the drowsiness, but I experienced awakenings throughout the night. This is something that I don’t notice with the combination of Lemon Balm and Valerian root.
Only take these supplements during nighttime, for instance, taking Lemon balm and Valerian during the day could lead to sleepiness.
As the tea bag only contains a fairly low amount of lemon balm leaf (1500 mg), the effects may vary from person to person depending on your nature and GABA levels.
If you want to try this relaxing remedy, below are the organic lemon balm tea and valerian root that I usually use:
Three Recommended Lemon Balm Products
Melissa Essential Oil – 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade
- -Latin Name: Melissa Officinalis -Extraction: Steam Distillation
- -100% Pure and All Natural Melissa Essential Oil -Never Any Fillers,...
- All of our oils are sourced throughout Europe and Asia. We hand pick...
Melissa Essential Oil is steam distilled to extract a 100-percent solution of lemon balm. The smell is delightful as I’d expect. However, this product isn’t cheap. You can use it alone or with similar products as a massage oil for its calming effects.
Lemon Balm Blister Soothing Care Stick
- Quickly soothe Cold Sores, Shingles, Chicken Pox, Rashes, Bug Bites,...
- "Goodbye, itchy red bumps!" Lemon Balm is the most powerful natural,...
- Soothes sores by taking the fire and itch away. Drastically reduces...
The Lemon Balm Salve Blister Soothing Care Stick brings the antibacterial and antiviral properties of this herb to work to soothe your lips and may provide relief for fever blisters and cold sores.
Lemon Balm Salve
- WiseWays Herbals: Salves for Natural Skin Care, Lemon Balm Cream 2 oz
The Lemon Balm Salve offers similar benefits as the previous product due to its antimicrobial properties. It contains a blend of ingredients including beeswax, Echinacea, and other essential oils.
Cautions of Lemon Balm
The FDA does not consider lemon balm a drug, therefore, it does not regulate its safety before coming to market. That said, the agency classifies it as a GRAS or Generally Regarded As Safe food additive. However, other precautions still exist that you need to know before using it.
- A possibility exists for allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
- There is a risk of potentially harmful drug and food interactions, especially for those with a pre-existing condition or on prescription medication.
- There is no evidence showing a benefit or danger for pregnant or lactating women.
- At least one study done with rats found effects on heart rate, making it unsuitable for use with anyone with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
- Pure extracts may cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. Always dilute these products in a carrier oil such as sweet almond before applying directly to your skin.
I hoped you enjoyed the list and other information I provided. Lemon balm is a well-known herb with a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. As with any new product or dietary supplement, consult your doctor before using it to make sure that it’s right for you.
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