One of my favorite herbs. The lemon balm with mild lemon is perhaps the most refreshing taste in the summer.
It is also called Sweet Mary, beebalm, and honey plant because it attracts bees that often collect pollen from it. That shows, in some way, the usefulness of this plant.
It can be used fresh in smoothies, dried in a tea, oil, extract, and lemon balm tincture. I will explain how to use it, and the health benefits from each later in this article.
This herb is used for making Carmelite water or alcoholic tonic that dates back in the 14th-century first time made by Carmelite nuns.
Lemon balm has mainly calming properties, that’s why it works on the human body and nervous system. Helps with depression, insomnia, cold sores, indigestion, menstrual cramps, headache, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and more.
Lemon Balm Plant Or Melissa Officinalis L. Overview
It is native to south-central Europe, Central Asia, and Iran later spread out in the whole world.
Grows from 70 to 150cm and through the summer has small white flowers. The bees come for the nectar of these flowers.
The strong scent is commonly used in perfumes, aromatherapy, and essential oils. The sharp lemon taste makes this herb usable as flavoring too.
Pair it with fish dishes, you can cook lemon balm pesto, the ice cream with this flavor is delicious, and you can make herbal infused water along with peppermint.
The perennial plant lemon balm grows in mild temperate zones, they rise in spring and last until the beginning of the winter. It should be planted in a place where it can spread because it grows in clumps. It spreads by seeds and vegetatively.
Lemon Balm Plant Health Benefits
Lemon balm contains rosmarinic acid compounds which have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
In traditional medicine, lemon balm was used to treat medical conditions like cholesterol, insomnia, cold sores, indigestion, Alzheimer’s disease, stress, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, dementia, memory, menstrual cramps, and thinking skills or cognitive function.
Does lemon balm help with these conditions? For some of these limited scientific studies exist, and for others, there is a deficiency of studies like most of the herbs.
1. Lemon Balm Can Help With Sleeping and Insomnia
Tea with lemon balm at night can improve sleep. The effect should be stronger if you mix it with other herbs with calming properties like chamomile, holy basil or valerian.
The lemon balm and valerian mix is used in а study, which included children.
The study used a combination of valerian and lemon balm to treat dyssomnia and restlessness in children. This treatment improves 70-80 percent of children’s symptoms. The parents give positive feedback about lemon balm too. For this subject, only limited studies exist, but it is important to say that they show that lemon balm is generally safe for children. Of course, always be careful when you take it the first time.
2. Lemon Balm Reduces Stress
In folk medicine, lemon balm is commonly used to reduce stress or as a mild sedative.
To prove whether it causes a change in mood, a scientific study was made in 2004. In that study, 18 healthy people were given 600 mg lemon balm in capsules.
They came up with positive results, i.e., the lemon balm ameliorated negative thoughts and effects. On the other side, it increased calmness and alertness.
This was a small study, and further resources are needed.
If you have a stressful moment or day, make lemon balm tea to relax and proceed with your daily routines.
3. Lemon Balm Improves Cognitive Function
Lemon balm in consuming along with food has positive effect on mood, memory and overall health shows study done in 2014.
In that study, healthy participants took lemon balm extract. After a certain time, the results show that they experienced better mood and better performance and alertness.
About cognitive function, they do tasks about mathematics, concentration, and memory. A part of the participants that took the extract has better results and performance than placebo groups.
4. Lemon Balm Can Reduce Anxiety
In the same study, participants with a higher level of stress were given lemon balm in food, i.e., mixed with yogurt and other sweeteners.
At the end of the study, they report reducing nervousness and excitability, the symptoms of anxiety.
Using lemon balm in cooking more often, besides exquisite taste, will give you a calmer and more concentrated life.
5.Lemon Balm Helps With Indigestion
Lemon balm helps with digestion problems like bloating, discomfort and pain.
A study made in 2010 uses cold dessert with lemon balm to review its effects. Participants ate the deserts after the meal. The group who ate dessert with a lemon balm report significantly reduced symptoms.
Using the lemon balm in smoothies and desserts like ice cream, besides having a very exquisite taste, help you have better indigestion too.
6. Lemon Balm Relieve Feelings of Nausea
Nausea is a gastrointestinal symptom, and because lemon balm impacts indigestion, it can also help with this problem.
A study> in 2005 was done on this topic and the results were promising. However, this study was with other herbs; that’s why further research for lemon balm in isolation is needed.
7. Lemon Balm Treats Cold Sores
At the first sign of cold sore, applying leaf or lemon balm cream will shorten healing time.
In 1999, on this topic, there was a study in which participants used lemon balm cream four times a day. They applied the cream on an affected area for five days. After that period, the result showed that cold sores heal for a shorter time and they had fewer symptoms than other placebo groups.
Also, using lemon balm cream is prolonging the time between the appearance of two cold sores.
Be careful with applying the first time. Apply the cream on the inside of your forearm and wait for 24 hours. If it doesn’t cause inflammation or irritation keep using it.
8. Lemon Balm Can Help With Headache Pain
The headaches, especially the one caused by stress, can be treated with lemon balm. The calming properties relax muscles and relieve tension. It also can help relax tight blood vessels, which cause headaches through indigestion.
If you have headaches more often than usual, take 600 ml lemon balm per day for about three days. With this, the ingredients from the herb will absorb into your system earlier and prevent the pain.
9. Lemon Balm Reduce PMS Symptoms and Menstrual Cramps
In a study in 2015, 100 high school girls were given lemon balm essence for three consecutive menstrual cycles. Every month the symptoms were observed. The results show a significant reduction of menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms.
Take 1200 mg per day for better results a few days before PMS symptoms appear and continue using it throughout the period.
10. Lemon Balm Can Help With Toothache Pain
Lemon balm oil is a perfect choice when you have toothache pain. Apply with cotton on the affected area. If you use essential oil, you must dilute it before applying with a carrier oil.
The calming properties of lemon balm will reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
11. Lemon Balm is Good About Alzheimer’s Disease
The citral contained in lemon balm extract inhibits cholinesterase, an enzyme that can treat Alzheimer’s Disease. This process is reducing the formation of brain plaques and with that the progression of the disease too.
In a study made in Iran, lemon balm extract was given to people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. After four months, they reported improving dementia and reducing Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms.
For the record, the participants were taking 60 drops of lemon balm extract that contain 500 micrograms of citral per milliliter. This amount was consumed for 16 weeks.
The aromatherapy with lemon balm is also used in traditional medicine for this disease, but there is still no study or evidence for that.
12. Lemon Balm Soothes Excessive Crying in Newborns (Colic)
Crying can be very stressful for mothers. Giving lemon balm tea or infusion to babies 1-4 weeks can reduce crying significantly.
This is used in traditional medicine practice and is yet to be studied scientifically.
13. Lemon Balm Can Relax Smooth Muscles
Lemon balm concentrate above 30% can relax muscles with it’s antispasmodic effect.
There is a review of study done on animals that confirm this. Studies on humans, however, are still needed.
14. Lemon Balm Can Help With ADHD in Children
Because it’s a soothing and calming effect, lemon balm can reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity in children. Also, this indirectly can improve the focus too.
15. Lemon Balm Has Antibacterial Properties
Lemon balm with its antibacterial properties can fight with a lot of bacteria in the human body.
It is particularly effective against candida. That type of yeast can cause many health problems, so taking lemon balm can help prevent them.
16. Lemon Balm Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
The oil or extract of lemon balm can help with type 2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels.
Still, it’s not a replacement for standard insulin therapy.
17. Lemon Balm Reduces Inflammation
Lemon balm can treat inflammation and pain after an injury. This is a result of a study made in 2013. However, it was only for partial support usage.
Because this study was made on animals, they can’t define the right anti-inflammatory properties, so further research is needed.
Lemon Balm Dosage and Usage
You can use lemon balm in the form of tea, infusion, oil, tincture, tablet, capsules, essential oil, and powder.
Every form has a different dosage. If you are buying a lemon balm supplement, stick to the doses indicated on them. Otherwise, be careful.
Tablets or capsules for oral use are considered safe from 250 to 500 milligrams.
The dose of tincture depends on concentration.
For cold sores, apply 1% lemon balm three times a day at first signs when you notice them.
Essential oil for lemon balm is for external use only. When you apply topically, you must dilute with a carrier oil.
Lemon Balm Interactions With Other Medicines
Lemon balm can interact with some sedatives or sleep aids like:
- Donnatal (phenobarbital)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Ambien (zolpidem).
- Ativan (lorazepam)
Other prescription medications that lemon balm can interact with are:
- Glaucoma medications like Travatan (travoprost)
- Thyroid medications like Synthroid (levothyroxine)
- Chemotherapy drugs like tamoxifen and Camptosar (irinotecan)
- Blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix (clopidogrel)
Always consult with your health provider if you are using any prescription medications if you are not sure about using lemon balm.
Lemon Balm Side Effects
Extracts and supplements are generally safe for short time usage. You should use them no longer than six weeks. Lemon balm tea is not concentrated. so it can be used longer.
The long term use or overdose with lemon balm supplements can slow the production of thyroid hormones and that affect thyroid function.
When you decide to stop the treatment, try not to be sudden, because that can return the anxiety.
Topically applying lemon balm products can cause allergy or contact dermatitis. To avoid that, apply a little on your forearm and leave it 24 hours. If there isn’t any irritation and rash after that period, keep using it.
Lemon balm can cause blood clotting. If you have surgery, stop using it two weeks before that.
Supplements and extracts should be avoided in nursing mothers, pregnant women, and children due to lack of research.
Other side effects that can be caused by long-term using lemon balm are:
- painful urination
- stomach pain
Be careful with the dose too, since it can increase the risk of side effects.
Lemon balm is an herb with a strong refreshing scent and taste. It can be used in dishes, tea, oil, essential oil, tinctures, and herbal water.
It’s healing properties can be used for dementia, better sleep, stress, cognitive function, cold sores, anxiety and so much more.
You can plant it in your garden, give it enough space and enjoy this remarkable herb.