By Sarena-Rae Santos, Contributing Writer
What Is Lemon Balm?
Lemon balm, also known as Balm, Bee balm, Cure-all, Dropsy plant, Honey plant, Melissa, Melissa folium, Sweet balm, Sweet Mary, or its botanical name Melissa officinalis, is a member of the mint family. This beautiful, bushy, herbaceous perennial is lemon-scented with wrinkled, oval-shaped, medium-green leaves. The leaves are 3 inches long with stems approximately 2 inches long and are native to southern Europe (1).
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm?
Lemon balm has been used for its many medicinal purposes as a supplement or an herb alone; some people even cook with it or toss dried leaves in their salad.
May Reduce Anxiety
Lemon balm is most often used for anxiety relief. Lemon balm can reduce symptoms of nervousness and excitability associated with anxiety. Studies have examined lemon balm’s mood and cognitive effects, and the results were promising. In one study, researchers mixed a lemon balm supplement into a beverage for one group and into yogurt for the other group. The groups either had artificial or natural sweeteners and noted positive impacts on their mood and reduced anxiety levels (2).
May Reduce Stress
Lemon balm is also used to relax and improve mood, aiding symptoms of stress. Researchers have studied the potential of using lemon balm to ease stress-related negative attitudes. Although more research is needed, this seems like a viable alternative to pharmaceuticals. One study found that participants who took lemon balm experienced a decrease in the negative mood effects. Participants also had a reduction in laboratory-induced psychological stress and an increased sense of calmness (3).
May Boost Cognitive Function
Lemon balm is also said to improve cognitive function with memory-enhancing properties. In one study, researchers found notable effects on cognitive function and mood. This resulted in improved memory performance and increased calmness. Researchers also noted an increased speed of timed memory task performances and rapid visual information-processing tasks (4).
May Help Ease Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
The supplementation of lemon balm, especially in combination with valerian, may help relieve restlessness at night caused by sleep disorders such as insomnia. One study found that children who took these two supplements experienced a 70 to 80 percent improvement in their symptoms (5). If you’re looking for a well-trusted valerian supplement, you can find one here.
May Relieve Indigestion & Nausea
Lemon balm is also said to affect your digestion positively. Lemon balm helps relieve abdominal pain, indigestion, and nausea. In one study, researchers assessed the effects of lemon balm on functional dyspepsia. Functional dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion characterized as stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting (6). In said study, researchers prompted the participants to eat sorbet with and without lemon balm after their meals. Participants reported a decrease in their symptoms associated with indigestion (7). Another study assessing the effects of lemon balm on nausea had promising results. Researchers found the lemon balm to help treat gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea (8).
Research has suggested that lemon balm is also suitable for pain control related to several grievances, including menstrual cramps, headaches, and physical injuries. In one study, researchers found that lemon balm reduced the severity of menstrual cramps in school-aged girls who took lemon balm for three consecutive cycles. Study researchers also found PMS symptoms to decrease significantly (9). In another study, researchers treated headaches with lemon balm. The researchers concluded lemon balm’s relaxing properties resulted in the unwinding and relaxation of muscles. This released the tension that caused the tight blood vessels, resulting in headaches (10). A final study found that lemon balm can reduce pain and inflammation following a physical injury (11).
The mainstream cautions that lemon balm may be problematic for individuals with low thyroid function. As per trusted herbalist Richard Whelan, due to lemon balm’s use for overactive thyroid conditions, there are concerns that it might be contraindicated for people with low thyroid function. In vitro, constituents of lemon balm extract have been shown to bind to TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). In animals, lemon balm extract has been shown to decrease levels of circulating thyroid-stimulating hormone (12).
Theoretically, Lemon Balm may alter thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. However, note that Lemon Balm has been used extensively and frequently as a common and popular herb with no historical cautions or reported adverse reactions in this regard. If there is an inhibitory effect on thyroid hormone production, it is likely to be mild and dose-dependent.
Richard Whelan concludes that no adverse effects are expected from lemon balm, even in high or frequent doses. It may be confidently taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding (there may be a mild relaxing effect on the baby as the essential oil of Lemon Balm will pass through the breast milk), and it can be used by the young or old with safety (13).
How to Use Lemon Balm
You can find lemon balm in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
Earthley‘s Anxiety Calm Oil (Formulas A) is formulated with adaptogenic herbs, a blend of organic hemp seed oil, and organic herbs (lavender, lemon balm, holy basil) to provide support without CBD.
Earthley’s Anxiety Calm Oil (Formula C) is a CBD oil formulated with 600 mg of pure-spectrum CBD in a hemp seed oil base while also being infused with organic herbs (lavender, lemon balm, holy basil) to provide a rich blend of cannabinoids and terpenes, to create the most synergistic benefits.
Earthley’s Cold Sore Serum is infused with antiviral herbs in a soothing oil base to fight cold sores, reduce inflammation and pain, and promote healing. Promote healing and soothe your skin with Earthley’s Cold Sore Serum!
Earthley’s Greens Powder/Capsules is a supplement that combines traditional greens like spirulina and kelp with green tea and nutrient-rich herbs for energy and wellness. High in vitamin and mineral content, this powder boosts your daily nutrition. Enjoy a natural energy boost, improvements to gut health, and an overall feeling of wellness.
Earthley‘s Herbal Throat Spray provides relief from sore throats without compromising ingredients. This spray is infused with anti-viral herbs and has a pleasant, sweet flavor. Banish sore throats naturally with cooling peppermint while your immune system gets the support it needs.
Earthley’s Relax and Unwind Tea is an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense tea blend. Ease anxious feelings with its all-natural calming properties. Enjoy the relaxation, anti-stress, and mood-stabilizing properties while nourishing your body. Great hot or iced.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.
If you have lemon balm in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?
Thanks for including my bug spray recipe! Love lemon balm.
Thanks for the information. I planted some from seed, and it just won’t grow. One sprouted up and has been about 1/2 inch tall for a month. Any tips on growing it, watering, etc?
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