What is Lemon Balm?
Melissa Officinalis, commonly known as Lemon Balm, is a member of the mint family.
This plant is native to Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the Mediterranean, Russia, Syria, and Iran.
Lemon balm has historically been valued as a culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal herb. In addition, the plant was believed to remedy so many different conditions that it was once considered “an herbal cure-all.”
As a medicinal herb, lemon balm has been attributed with memory-enhancing properties, used as a mild sedative, a mood-elevating remedy, sleep aid, and as a digestive aid to relieve stomach pain, nausea, migraine headache.
Current modern botanical medicine is focusing on its effects as a mood-enhancing plant and its cognition improving impacts.
Lemon Balm Benefits
1 – It Boosts Cognitive Function
Traditional herbal knowledge suggests the use of lemon balm to improve memory, concentration, and focus. In addition, several clinical studies have shown encouraging results supporting the use of lemon balm for cognitive function improvement.
The dosage range of lemon balm tested for clinical effectiveness for calming effects, mood-enhancing, and cognitive function improvement were 300, 600, 900, 1200, 1800mg daily.
The results suggest that doses of Melissa officinalis can improve cognitive performance and mood and maybe a valuable adjunct in treating Alzheimer's disease.
The most notable cognitive and mood effects were improved memory performance and increased calmness at the highest dose of 1600 mg daily. (1)
In one clinical study, Melissa officinalis extract was evaluated to treat patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial looked at using the herb for four months and found that Melissa officinalis extract produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function than placebo. (2)
2 – It Has an Anti-anxiety and Mood-elevating Effect
Several animal studies have demonstrated the anxiolytic and sedative effects of lemon balm.
Several possible active constituents in the plant may be responsible for this activity, including eugenol and citronellol, known to have a GABA –A receptor affinity.
Human clinical research has reported the essential oil of lemon balm decreases agitation and social withdrawal. It improved the time spent in constructive activities in a double-blind placebo-controlled study involving 71 subjects over one month. (3)
3 – It Calms Insomnia and Hyperactivity
Several clinical studies have looked at lemon balm for its calming, sleep-enhancing, and relaxing properties.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 18 healthy volunteers was given either a 300 mg or 600 mg dose of a standardized lemon balm extract or placebo for seven days.
Results showed that the 600 mg dose of lemon balm significantly improved mood while increasing calmness and alertness, more so than the 300mg dose. (4)
A second study looked at lemon balm used in combination with Valeriana Officinalis in treating restlessness and nervous insomnia in children.
The study found the herbal combination to be effective in younger children with restlessness, and insomnia was very well tolerated. (5)
4 – It Helps Ease Headache Pain
Lemon balm can help treat headaches, especially if they’re the result of stress.
The relaxing properties of lemon balm release tension and relax the muscles.
It is thought that ingesting the herb can help to open up and relax tight blood vessels, contributing to headaches. (6)
Safety and Side Effects
Lemon balm is considered to be safe, especially in tea form.
As a supplement, you can reduce the risk of side effects, such as nausea or stomach pain, if you consume fewer than 2 grams of lemon balm per day.
Lemon balm has numerous benefits with minor side effects.
It can be consumed as a tea, taken as a supplement or extract, or applied to the skin in balms and lotion.
It is also popular in aromatherapy as an oil, and it promotes calmness and eases stress.