What exactly is it?
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that is related to mint. Although the herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, it is now grown all over the world.
Lemon balm has long been used to improve mood and cognitive function, but the benefits don't stop there.
Continue reading to learn more about this plant's potential healing properties.
1. It has the potential to alleviate stress.
Lemon balm is said to relieve stress symptoms, help you relax, and boost your mood.
According to a 2004 study, taking lemon balm reduced the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm reported an increase in calmness and a decrease in alertness.
Despite being a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the sample size of 18 people was small. More research is needed to expand on these findings.
Take 300 milligrams (mg) of lemon balm in capsule form twice daily. In cases of acute stress, a single dose of 600 mg is sufficient.
2. It can aid in the reduction of anxiety.
Lemon balm can also be used to alleviate anxiety symptoms such as nervousness and excitability.
Lemon balm-containing foods were studied for their mood and cognitive effects in a 2014 study. The supplement was combined with either natural or artificial sweeteners and mixed into a beverage and yoghurt. Both groups' participants reported positive effects on various aspects of mood, including lower levels of anxiety.
Although this is encouraging, more research is required to determine its true efficacy.
Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times per day. In severe cases of anxiety, you can take a higher dose.
3. It may boost cognitive function
The same 2014 study investigated the effects of lemon balm on cognitive function.
Cognitive tasks involving memory, mathematics, and concentration were assigned to participants. The results of these computerised tasks indicate that participants who consumed lemon balm outperformed those who did not.
Although these participants did experience an increase in alertness and performance, fatigue could still set in over time. When lemon balm is combined with food, its absorption rate changes, which may have an effect on its efficacy.
Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times per day.
4. It can aid in the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Combining lemon balm and valerian may aid in the relief of restlessness and sleep disorders such as insomnia.
In one 2006 study, researchers discovered that children who took a combined dose improved their symptoms by 70 to 80 percent. Lemon balm was rated as a good or very good treatment by both the researchers and the parents.
Before going to bed, drink a cup of tea brewed with valerian and lemon balm. Loose-leaf or bagged options are available at your local grocery store or online.
5. It may aid in the treatment of cold sores.
You can even apply lemon balm topically to a cold sore at the first sign of it.
Participants in a 1999 study applied either a lemon balm or placebo cream on the affected area four times per day for five days. The researchers discovered that those who used the lemon balm cream had fewer symptoms and healed faster than those who did not.
The researchers also proposed that using lemon balm cream may help to extend the time between cold sore outbreaks. More research is needed to expand on these findings.
How to Apply: Several times per day, apply a lemon balm cream to the affected area. Before applying the cream to the cold sore, patch test it on the inside of your forearm. It should be safe to use if you do not experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours.
6. It may aid in the relief of indigestion.
If you have frequent abdominal pain and discomfort, lemon balm may help you with your digestion.
A small study from 2010 looked at the effects of a lemon balm cold dessert on functional dyspepsia. Following a meal, participants ate a sorbet with or without the herb. Although both types of desserts reduced the severity and frequency of the symptoms, the lemon balm dessert amplified this effect. More investigation is required.
Add 1 teaspoon (tsp) lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie and enjoy.
7. It can aid in the treatment of nausea.
Lemon balm, because of its potential impact on your digestive system, may also help relieve nausea.
A 2005 review of the findings of several studies on lemon balm found the herb to be effective in treating gastrointestinal symptoms like this. Although this is a promising development, it is critical to acknowledge the study's limitations.
Many of the studies focused on lemon balm when combined with other herbs. More research is required to determine the efficacy of lemon balm alone.
At the first sign of nausea, drink a cup of lemon balm tea. Loose-leaf or bagged options are available at your local grocery store or online.
8. It may help to reduce menstrual cramps.
There is also evidence that lemon balm can be used to treat menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
A 2015 study researched the effect of lemon balm in reducing the intensity of cramps in 100 high school girls. For three consecutive menstrual cycles, the girls were given either a lemon balm essence or a placebo. The severity of PMS symptoms was assessed before the trial, as well as one, two, and three months later. The lemon balm group reported a significant reduction in symptoms. Additional research is required to confirm these findings.
How to Apply: For best results, take 1200 mg of lemon balm daily. This will allow the herb to get into your system long before it’s time for PMS symptoms to appear. It is believed that continued use will reduce your symptoms over time.
9. It may help to alleviate headache pain.
Lemon balm may also be beneficial in the treatment of headaches, particularly those caused by stress. Its calming properties can assist you in unwinding, releasing tension, and relaxing your muscles. However, ingesting the herb can also help to open up and relax constricted blood vessels, which can contribute to headaches.
How to use: If you suffer from recurrent headaches, take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm up to three times per day. This will allow the herb to enter your system before you get a headache. If you feel a headache coming on, you can take a higher dose.
10. It may help to alleviate toothache pain.
Lemon balm's pain-relieving properties may make it an excellent choice for toothache relief. This home remedy is thought to target inflammation in the body in addition to its relaxing properties. More research is required to validate these findings.
How to Apply: Apply lemon balm oil to the affected area as needed with a cotton swab. Choose an oil that has already been diluted with a carrier oil, such as jojoba. If you buy pure lemon balm oil, dilute it first. Essential oils should not be applied to the skin unless they have been diluted in a carrier oil.
Risks and side effects
Lemon balm may cause the following side effects:
- painful urination
- increased body temperature
- stomach pain
- skin irritation
- allergic reaction
By taking lemon balm with food, you may be able to reduce side effects such as stomach upset. Reduce your risk of side effects by consuming less than 2 grams of lemon balm per day.
Lemon balm should only be used for a limited time. One week off after every three weeks of use is a good rule of thumb. Lemon balm should not be taken for more than four months at a time without a break.
If you are taking any of the following medications, you should consult your doctor before using this product:
- glaucoma medications
- thyroid medications
- drugs that affect serotonin
You should also consult your doctor before using lemon balm if you are:
- planning to administer lemon balm to an infant or child under the age of 12
- have a scheduled surgery
Lemon balm should not be used in place of any doctor-approved treatment plan you are currently on, but it may be an effective complementary treatment. Consult your doctor about your specific situation and the potential benefits and risks.
There is little danger if you grow your own lemon balm or use dried leaves for tea. Choose a reputable company if you're taking capsules, powder, or other commercially prepared supplements or herbs. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate herbs and supplements, so there may be problems with purity, quality, or safety.
If you start using lemon balm, you might want to keep a journal about your experiences. Make a note of any improvements or side-effects you notice. It may also be beneficial to keep track of when you take lemon balm, how much you take, and how you take it.