Benefits and Information of lemon balm / Melissa (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm / lemon balm was dedicated to the goddess Diana, and was used medicinally by the Greeks some 2,000 years ago. In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to relieve tension, to dress wounds, and as a cure for toothache, skin rashes, rabid dog bites, crooked necks, and disease during pregnancy. It was said to avoid baldness. As a medicinal plant, lemon balm has traditionally been used against bronchial inflammation, ear pain, fever, flatulence, headaches, high blood pressure, flu, mood disorders, palpitations, toothache and vomiting. A tea made from leaves of lemon balm is said to calm menstrual cramps and helps relieve premenstrual syndrome. The herb is used for nervous agitation, sleep problems, functional gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps and urinary spasms.

It is believed that volatile oils in lemon balm contain chemicals that relax the muscles, particularly in the bladder, stomach and uterus, thus relieving cramps, gas, and nausea.

ESCOP (European Cooperative scientists on Phytotherapy) lists your internal use for tension, restlessness, irritability, and symptomatic treatment of digestive disorders, such as mild spasms; (ESCOP, 1997). Recent evidence suggests that lemon balm has a depressant or sedative action on the central nervous system of laboratory mice. The German Standard License for lemon / melissa tea approve for sleep and gastrointestinal nerve disorders and to stimulate appetite (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

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Lemon balm is widely used to treat anxiety and insomnia in Europe. It reduces anxiety and stress and relieves sleep disorders. Recently there was an unexpected result in a research study: the ability to concentrate and perform word and image tasks was greatly increased.

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study of lemon balm at the University of Northumbria in England students were examined per week during the use of either lemon balm or a placebo. Students did significantly better on the tests after taking lemon balm and continued to score better than a maximum of six hours after taking the herb. The students taking Lemon balm were noted to be calmer and less stressed during the tests. (From Prevention Magazine Sept. 2004) Herpes and Antiviral Research has shown that the plant contains polyphenols, can significantly help in the treatment of cold sores and fight against the herpes virus.

simple, herpes zoster, as well as other viral conditions. Studies have shown a significant reduction in the duration and severity of herpes. The researchers also observed a "tremendous reduction" in the frequency of recurrence.

When applied to oral ulcers or genital ulcers caused by the herpes simplex virus, creams or ointments containing lemon balm have accelerated the healing. Infections did not spread so much and people using topical lemon balm also reported greater relief from symptoms such as itching and redness. At least part of this effect is due to the antiviral properties of caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are contained in lemon balm.

Several studies have used lemon balm, and lemon balm / valerian combinations to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. Studies have shown improvement in sleep patterns and reduced stress and anxiety. In one study a combination of lemon balm / valerian was found to be as effective as the Halcion prescription medication.

Lemon balm is approved for "nerve sleep disorders" and "functional gastrointestinal discomfort "by Commission E of the Federal Institute of Medicines and Medical Devices of Germany. Commission E is the agency of the German government. which evaluates the safety and efficacy of herbal products. The United States does not have a comparable body to evaluate herbal products.

Thyroid and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Lemon balm is used in Europe for the treatment of thyroid problems, and has demonstrated its ability to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. This ability along with herbal antiviral properties have made the herb useful in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Lemon balm contains volatile (essential) oils, including citronellal and citral A and B, which are known to have sedative properties. In both animal and human studies, lemon balm taken by mouth has had calming effects. In larger doses, it can promote sleep. In one study, researchers found that the use of lemon balm also improved memory and attention span was lengthened in individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease. This effect may be due to its antioxidant content, which is believed to protect the body's cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation.

Caution is advised when taking herbs.

Lemon Balm / Melissa: Notes / Side Effects

There is very little information available on how lemon balm could affect a developing fetus, an infant, or a small child. Therefore, it is not recommended to use it during pregnancy, breastfeeding or early childhood.

When lemon balm is used both prescription and over-the-counter medications that promote drowsiness, the effects of drug can be exaggerated, resulting in sedation or mental deterioration. Lemon balm can cause excessive sedation if taken with other potentially sedating herbs such as catnip, hops, kava, St. John's wort and valerian. Because of its potential effects on the use of thyroid hormone, lemon balm may interfere with treatment for hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormone) or hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone deficiency).


In animal studies, lemon balm increases pressure inside the eyes. Although similar results have not been reported in humans, people who have glaucoma should not take grapefruit / lemon balm.

  • Adam Floyd