(Melissa Officinalis, Lemon
| Lemon Balm
was dedicated to the goddess Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks some
2,000 years ago. In the Middles Ages lemon balm was used to soothe tension, to
dress wounds, and as a cure for toothache, skin eruptions, mad dog bites,
crooked necks, and sickness during pregnancy. It was even said to prevent
baldness. As a medicinal plant, lemon balm has traditionally been employed
against bronchial inflammation, earache, fever, flatulence, headaches, high
blood pressure, influenza, mood disorders, palpitations, toothache and vomiting.
A tea made from Lemon balm leaves is said to soothe menstrual cramps and helps
The herb is used for nervous agitation, sleeping problems,
functional gastrointestinal complaints, menstrual cramps and urinary
It is thought that the volatile oils in lemon balm contain
chemicals that relax muscles, particularly in the bladder, stomach, and uterus,
thereby relieving cramps, gas, and nausea.
ESCOP (European Scientific
Cooperative On Phytotherapy) lists its internal use for tenseness, restlessness,
irritability, and symptomatic treatment of digestive disorders, such as minor
spasms; externally, for herpes labialis (ESCOP, 1997).
suggests that lemon balm has a depressant or sedative action on the central
nervous systems of laboratory mice. The German Standard License for lemon balm
tea approves it for nervous disorders of sleep and of the gastrointestinal
tract, and to stimulate the appetite (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).
Lemon balm may block some of the activity of thyroid hormone in
the body. Therefore, it has been used in the past to treat Grave's disease, an
auto-immune condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid
hormone. Although laboratory and animal studies show that lemon balm may help
decrease thyroid in the body, no human studies have yet been conducted for this
Mental Clarity, Concentration and Relaxation
balm is widely used to treat anxiety and insomnia in Europe. It reduces anxiety
and stress and eases sleep disorders. Recently it produced an unexpected result
in a research study: it greatly increased the ability to concentrate and perform
word and picture tasks.
Helpful for Homework?
In a study of lemon
balm at Northumbria Univeristy in England students were tested for weeks while
using either Lemon balm or a placebo. The students did significantly better on
the tests after taking Lemon balm and continued to post improved scores for up
to 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.
Herpes and Anti-viral Properties
Research has shown that the
plant contains polyphenols, it can help significantly in the treatment of cold
sores and combat the herpes simplex virus, shingles as well as other viral
afflictions. Studies have shown a significant reduction in the duration and
severity of herpes. Researchers also noted a "tremendous reduction" in the
frequency of recurrence.
When applied to cold sores or genital sores
caused by the herpes simplex virus, creams or ointments containing lemon balm
have speeded healing. The infections did not spread as much and individuals
using topical lemon balm also reported more relief from symptoms such as itching
and redness. At least part of this effect is due to antiviral properties of
caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are contained in lemon balm.
one study on 115 patients, a proprietary preparation of lemon balm extract in a
lip balm showed efficacy in treating lip sores associated with the herpes
simplex virus (WÃ¶bling and Leonhardt,
Several studies have used Lemon balm, and
Lemon balm/Valerian combinations to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. The
studies have shown improved sleep patterns and reduced stress and anxiety. In
one study a Lemon balm/Valerian combination was found to be as effective as the
prescription drug Halcion.
Lemon balm is approved for "nervous sleeping
disorders" and "functional gastrointestinal complaints" by Commission E of the
German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Commission E is the
German governmental agency that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of herbal
products. The United States does not have a comparable agency to evaluate herbal
Thyroid and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Lemon balm is used
in Europe for treating thyroid problems and has shown an ability to regulate
thyroid hormone production. This ability, along with the herbs anti-viral
characteristics have made the herb useful in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue
Alzheimer's and Dementia
Lemon balm contains volatile
(essential) oils ,including citronellal and citrals 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 may promote sleep. In one
study, researchers found that using lemon balm also improved memory and
lengthened attention span in individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
This effect may be due to its content of antioxidants, which are thought to
protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called
Another small but interesting study used lemon balm,
aromatherapeutically to calm overexcited individuals suffering from dementia.
Dementia is an increasing deficiency in thought processes caused by brain damage
such as from a stroke or disease such as Alzheimer's
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to
diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and
before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own
health care provider.