De-stress yourself with lemon balm

Your herbal solution for stress, anxiety and insomnia

Daily stress and anxiety not only creates havoc with our sense of well-being, but also kills our lives by contributing to heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairment. Drug companies offer medications to treat the symptoms of anxiety, but fears of addiction and side effects cause most health conscious people to avoid them. Imagine that there is an herbal solution to it. Yes your search ends at LEMON BALM. Lemon balm has long been known to relieve anxiety, promote sleep, and sooth agitation.

A recent clinical trial highlighted the powerful stress-relieving benefits of lemon balm. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 20 volunteers suffering from anxiety and sleep disturbances received 300 mg of a specialized lemon balm extract twice daily (in the morning and evening). After 15 days of treatment, the participants who received lemon balm reported a 49% reduction in their state of anxiety, a 72% reduction in anxiety-associated symptoms, and a 39% decrease in insomnia.

This lemon-scented perennial herb is a soothing solution for neurological anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia. This profound benefit of lemon balm to relax one’s mind comes from the terpene contents present in the lemony leaves of the herb. This herb is used more effectively in combination with few other beneficial herbs like valerian, hops, and chamomile to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Scientific studies have also been carried out to prove this soothing ability of the herb. The relaxant property of the herb on the neural system has also proved its benefits in cases of Alzheimer's patients.

Further more, lemon balm has been therapeutically used as a natural cure for inflammations, microbial infections, muscle spasms, certain cancers and thrombosis as a result of the list of functional metabolites possessed by this lemony herb.

Introduction & History

Belonging to the Lamiaceae (mint) family, lemon balm is scientifically called ‘Melissa officinalis’. Found to be native to Europe, Central Asia and Iran, it is commonly referred as English balm, Garden balm, balm mint, Melissa, sweet balm, heart’s delight and honey plant. The other known sub species of M. officinalis subsp. altissima (commonly called as ‘bush balm’) differs from M. officinalis by being devoid of the unique lemony scent possessed by the former [1].

The use of lemon balm in lives of people dates back to the 15th century when its profound usage was in attracting bees in order to start producing honey, hence it derived the name Melissa meaning ‘bee’ in Greek and balm a contraction word for balsam. Paracelsus (Austrian 1493-1541) claimed a potion made from this herb as the “elixir of life”. Later, during the 17th century the Carmelite nuns brought to light the medicinal value of this herb through Carmelite Water, made by bringing together lemon balm with lemon-peel, nutmeg, coriander and angelica root to treat nervous headaches and neuralgia. Also, the herb is considered sacred to the temple of Diana (South Europe); hence gets to be called as “heart’s delight” [2,3].

Functional metabolites [5]

Volatile oil: citronellal, citral a (geranial), citral b (neral), methyl citronellate, ocimene, citronellol, geraniol, nerol, beta-caryophyllene, beta-caryophyllene oxide, linalool; Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives: rosmarinic acid, caffeic acids, chlorogenic acid; Tannins; Flavonoids: quercetin, apigen, kaempferol, luteolin; Monoterpene glycosides; Sesquiterpenes: beta-caryophyllene, germacrene; Triterpenic acids: ursolic and oleanolic acids; Other compounds: melitric acids A and B, eugenylglucoside.

Scientific evidences

  1. Anxiety relief

    A double blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial with a 14-day treatment regimen of 500 mg twice a day of lyophilized aqueous extract of M. officinalis leaves was conducted on 71 volunteers. 55/71 volunteers showed reduced frequency of palpitation episodes and significantly reduced the number of anxious patients in comparison to the placebo confirming the anxiety and stress relieving properties of lemon balm [6].

  2. Insomnia

    An observational study on 169 primary school children suffering from hyperactivity and concentration difficulties was conducted. The children were treated with a mixture of appropriate amounts of valerian root extract and lemon balm extract for up to 7 weeks. Behavioral observation results showed children having strong/very strong symptoms of poor ability to focus decreased from 75% to 14%, hyperactivity from 61% to 13%, and impulsiveness from 59% to 22% [7].

  3. Alzheimer's disease

    Pretreatment of PC12 cells with extracts of lemon balm before incubating them with beta amyloid (Aβ), showed protective effect against Aβ-induced oxidative changes and cell death. This proves that lemon balm has curative properties for Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized with deposit of beta amyloid (Aβ) aggregate in senile plaque; resulting in oxidative damage to neurons and loss of cholinergic neurons in forebrain region in this disease [8].

Side effects of lemon balm consumption [9,10]

  1. Lemon balm being a relaxant and inducer of sleep could cause excessive sedation if taken inappropriately by persons on certain medications and during periods of before and after surgery.
  2. Avoiding consumption of lemon balm during pregnancy, breast-feeding, or during early childhood is advised, as not much of research has been done at these stages on the effects of this herb.

Lemon balm interferes [4,9,10]

  1. Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interact with lemon balm causing excessive drowsiness and hence advised to be avoided when on sedation. Some such medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

  2. Though not very clear in studies, instances of this herb interfering with antiretroviral agents have been observed. So it would be best to avoid use of lemon balm if you're taking medication for HIV

Lemon balm supplements:

Lemon balm is available as a dried leaf that can be used in teas. It is also available as forms of capsules, extracts, tinctures, and oil.

Product nameDetailsBuy Here
Lemon balm, dried4 ozMountain Rose Herbs
Organic Lemon balm85 ozTraditional Medicinals
Solaray Lemon Balm Herb375 mgLucky Vitamin
Herb Pharm Lemon Balm Extract Liquid1 fl ozWalgreens
Lemon Balm Tincture1 ozKerstin's Nature Products
Vitacost Lemon Balm Extract Cyracos(R)1 ozVitacost

Effective dosage [4,9]

For children

To improve sleep: a specific combination of 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract along with appropriate amounts of valerian root extract can be given once or twice daily to children having disturbed sleep issues.

Adult intake doses
  • Take 300 - 500 mg dried lemon balm in form of capsules, 3 times daily or as needed.
  • Tea made of 1.5 - 4.5 grams (1/4 - 1 teaspoonful) of dried lemon balm herb in hot water. Steep and drink up to 4 times daily.
  • 60 drops of lemon balm tincture daily in beverage.
Topical application

For cold sores (herpes labialis): cream or ointment containing 1% of a 70:1 freeze-dried water-soluble extract is usually applied two to four times daily or steep 2 - 4 teaspoon of crushed leaf in 1 cup boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool. Apply tea with cotton balls to the sores throughout the day.

Enjoy the essence of lemon balm

One can enjoy the essence and benefits of lemon as a part of the meal when added in beverages, salads, salsa, sauces, spreads, garnishes and as seasoning in fish and meat marinades. It also goes great on palates when mixed with other herbs like basil, thyme and others. Lemon balm when used in baked goods like cakes and cookies imparts a lemony flavor and aroma in the goodies. Here are some easy ways to relish the flavor of lemon balm.

Growing lemon balm [11,12]

This herb is garden friendly and easy to grow. Lemon balm grows best after the frost period has passed and requires a lightly moist soil with minimum fertilizer. Seeds, cuttings or division of roots can propagate it. Their small white or pale yellow flower clusters attract bees and butterflies making your garden healthier. Get your lemon balm seeds growing in your garden from:

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