Lemon balm has a reputation as an incredible herb for supporting good health. Its name is attributed to its lemony scent. The plant’s reputed effect on vigor and longevity are attributed to its popularity, and scientific studies have only served to reinforce its reputation. Let’s take a close look at nine impressive health benefits of lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the same family as mint. The herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it’s grown around the world.
Lemon balm has traditionally been used to improve mood and cognitive function, but the potential benefits don’t stop there. Read on to learn more about this plant’s possible healing powers.
Lemon Balm Quick Facts:
Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
Plant Type: Flowering, Perennial
Health Benefits: Restful sleep, relieves discomfort, soothes irritation, supports the body’s natural response to harmful organisms, supports DNA integrity, encourages mental clarity.
Uses: Wound care, stress management, herbal tea, and supplementation
1. It can help relieve stress
Lemon balm is said to soothe symptoms of stress, help you to relax, and boost your mood.
A 2004 study found that taking lemon balm eased the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm self-reported an increased sense of calmness and reduced feelings of alertness.
Although this was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, it had a small sample size of 18 people. Further research is needed to elaborate on these findings.
How to use: Take 300 milligrams (mg) of lemon balm in capsule form twice a day. You can take a single dose of 600 mg in acute episodes of stress.
2. It can help reduce anxiety
Lemon balm may also be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness and excitability.
Research published in 2014 examined the mood and cognitive effects of foods containing lemon balm. The supplement was mixed into a beverage and into yogurt along with either natural or artificial sweeteners. Participants in both groups reported positive effects on various aspects of mood, including reduced levels of anxiety.
Although this is promising, more research is needed to truly determine its efficacy.
How to use: Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times per day. You can take a higher dose in acute episodes of anxiety.
3. It may boost cognitive function
The same 2014 study also looked at the effects of lemon balm in improving cognitive function.
Participants were asked to do cognitive tasks involving memory, mathematics, and concentration. The results of these computerized tasks suggest that participants who ingested lemon balm performed better than those who didn’t.
Although these participants did experience an increase in levels of alertness and performance, it’s still possible for fatigue to set in over time. Combining lemon balm with food also affects its absorption rate, which may have had an impact on its efficacy. Additional research is needed.
How to use: Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times a day.
4. It can help ease insomnia and other sleep disorders
Combining lemon balm with valerian may help relieve restlessness and sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Researchers in one 2006 study found that children who took a combined dose experienced a 70 to 80 percent improvement in symptoms. Both the researchers and parents regarded lemon balm as being a good or very good treatment. Still, more research is needed to validate these findings.
5. It may help treat cold sores
You can even apply lemon balm topically at the first sign of a cold sore.
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 found that the participants who used the lemon balm cream experienced fewer symptoms and healed faster than those who didn’t.
The researchers also suggested that using lemon balm cream may help prolong the intervals between cold sore outbreaks. Further studies are needed to expand on these findings.
How to use: Apply a lemon balm cream to the affected area several times per day. Be sure to patch test the cream on the inside of your forearm before applying it to the cold sore. If you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours, it should be safe to use.
6. It may help relieve indigestion
If you experience frequent abdominal pain and discomfort, lemon balm may have a positive effect on your digestion.
A small study from 2010 assessed the effects of a cold dessert containing lemon balm on functional dyspepsia. Participants ate a sorbet, with or without the herb, after a meal. Although both types of desserts lessened the symptoms and their intensity, the dessert containing lemon balm intensified this effect. More research is needed.
How to use: Add 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie and enjoy.
7. It can help treat nausea
Given its potential impact on your digestive system, lemon balm may also help relieve feelings of nausea.
A 2005 review assessing the results of several studies on lemon balm found the herb to be useful in treating gastrointestinal symptoms such as this. Although this is a promising development, it’s important to recognize the study limitations.
Many of the studies looked at lemon balm used in conjunction with other herbs. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of lemon balm when used alone.
How to use: Drink a cup of lemon balm tea at the first sign of nausea.
8. Encourages Restful Sleep
Lemon balm encourages restful sleep, especially for those who have trouble falling asleep.
In one study, parents reported their children slept more peacefully throughout the night with lemon balm supplementation. It doesn’t only benefit restless children and their sleep-deprived parents.
A placebo-controlled trial found that menopausal women suffering from interrupted sleep reported much better rest after taking a lemon balm and valerian extract.
9. Improves Skin Appearance
The first cosmetic use of lemon balm goes back to the 14th century when the Queen of Hungary reportedly used it to erase years from her face by softening wrinkles.
Today, it’s still recommended for boosting the appearance of skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines.
Lemon balm also contains volatile components, such as caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and rosmarinic acid, that work together to support the body’s natural response to the harmful organisms that cause lip blemishes.
Tips for Growing Lemon Balm
The many benefits of lemon balm might inspire you to grow your own.
Lemon balm prefers well-drained clay or sandy loam and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
It prefers Zones 4a through 9b and grows best in U.S. Zone 7, where you can harvest it until November.
Plant seeds indoors during early spring (6-8 weeks before the last frost) or sow seeds on the surface of outside soil after the last frost of spring.
You should see the first shoots within 12 to 21 days after sowing.
When the leaves are ready to harvest, dry them on screens or hang in bunches to preserve for later use.
On average, it takes about ten weeks to go from seeds to full-leaf plants.
Using Lemon Balm
- There are several ways to use lemon balm. Many people make lemon balm part of their diet in the form of tea or supplements.
- Lemon balm essential oil has amazing aromatherapy applications. Regardless of your preferred use, organic lemon balm is always the best choice. Because of its soothing properties, lemon balm is an essential ingredient in many types of popular skin care and beauty products.
- We’ve included it in Biotrex™, our unique liquid formula for clear, healthy-looking lips. Biotrex harnesses the power of lemon balm and other high-quality, organic ingredients to relieve and moisturize your lips so they can look and feel their best.
- Do you have a favorite use for lemon balm? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.