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Lemon Balm

What is Lemon Balm?

Lemon Balm or commonly called Melissa, is a kind of herb that is mostly cultivated in Southern Europe and in the Mediterranean.
The name Melissa comes from it’s scientific name in botany. The scientific name of lemon balm is Melissa Officinalis. It is called lemon balm since it smells like lemon.
A member of the mint family, is considered a "calming" herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to help promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores (oral herpes).
Lemon balm holds some sedative properties found specifically in some of the chemicals it contains in volatile oils, including citronellal and citrals A and B. In case studies with humans and animals alike, lemon balm has demonstrated calming effects when taken orally. When consumption doses are increased, lemon balm may induce sleep. One case study indicated further benefits of lemon balm may include improved memory and lengthened attention span among patients who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
This may be a consequence of the presence of antioxidants in lemon balm, which are suspected to offer protection for the body's cells from oxidation, a chemical process causing damage to the cells. Yet another case study showed the use of lemon balm in aromatherapy, applying or inhaling fragrances to affect the mood, was effective in calming overexcited individuals specifically those suffering from dementia (an progressive deficiency in thought processes caused by brain damage). In the past, lemon balm has been useful for relieving menstrual cramps, urinary spasms, and gastrointestinal complications or pain.
The volatile oils in lemon balm are made up of chemicals that help the muscles relax, particularly the muscles of the bladder, stomach, and uterus, consequently providing relief of cramps, gas, and nausea. Unfortunately, research results are still somewhat inconclusive, and human case studies are lacking to provide concrete proof of its purported uses.
Lemon balm may also help to block some of the secretion of the thyroid gland and its ability to release hormones in the body. Consequently, lemon balm has been implemented for use in connection with Grave's disease, which is an autoimmune condition where individuals suffer from excess thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid
Lemon balm can be cultivated in wide range of climate conditions. However,it is mostly cultivated in mild temperature zones. It also needs winter mulch and sandy soil to survive. Lemon balm leaves are used in herbal medicine for various diseases and conditions. Not only the leaves but also the stems and flowers of lemon balm are used in herbal medicine

Lemon BALM


Lemon Balm Health Article


Lemon balm is a citrus-scented, aromatic herb. It is a perennial member of the Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae), or mint, family and has proven benefit to the nervous system. This lovely Mediterranean native, dedicated to the goddess Diana, is bushy and bright. Greeks used lemon balm medicinally over 2,000 years ago. Honey bees swarm to the plant. This attraction inspired the generic name, melissa, the Greek word for honeybee. Romans introduced lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) to Great Britain where it became a favorite cottage garden herb. The plant has been naturalized in North America.

Lemon balm grows in bushy clumps to 2 ft (0.6 m) tall and branches to 18 in (45.7 cm). It thrives in full sun or partial shade in moist, fertile soil from the mountains to the sea. The heart-shaped, deeply-veined leaves exude a pleasant lemon scent when brushed against or crushed. They have scalloped edges and square stems. The tiny white or golden blossoms grow in the leaf axils, and bloom from June through October. The plant is hardy, self-seeding, and spreads easily in the right soil conditions. The plant has a short rhizome, producing the erect, downy stems. The essential oil content appears to be highest in the uppermost third of the plant.

General use

Lemon balm is a soothing, sedative herb that can relieve tension and liftdepression. An infusion of this citrus-scented herb will improve digestion, reducefever, ease spasms, and enhance relaxation. The plant has anti-histaminicproperties and helps with allergies. Lemon balm infusions, taken hot, will induce sweating. Lemon balm has been used for centuries to calm the mind, improve memory, and sharpen the wit. A daily infusion of lemon balm is said to promote longevity. It is a helpful herb in cases of hyperthyroid activity, palpitations of the heart, and tension headache. It can relieve pre-menstrual tension and menstrual cramping. It helps promote good digestion, relieve flatulence, and colic, and can ease one into a restful sleep. Lemon balm has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Used externally as a skin wash, this gentle herb can ease the sting of insect bites, soothe cold sore eruptions (herpes simplex), and treat sores andwounds. Lemon balm's highly aromatic qualities make it a good insect repellent. It is also valued in aromatherapy to relax and soothe a troubled mind. Fresh leaves are often added to salads, or used with fish, mushroom, and cheese dishes. In France, the herb is used in making cordials, and is called Tea de France.

Apart from its traditional medicinal uses, lemon balm is used to flavor vermouth and other alcoholic beverages as well as some soft drinks.

Lemon balm contains volatile oils, including citral, citronella, eugenol, and other components as well as flavonoids, triterpenoids, rosmarinic acid, polyphenols, and tannin. Several new flavonoids were discovered in lemon balm in 2002. Flavonoids are a group of water-soluble plant pigments that have antiviral and antioxidativequalities.


Lemon balm leaves and flowers are used in medicinal remedies. The herb is at its best when used fresh from the harvest. The leaves may be picked throughout the summer, but the flavor is at its prime just before flowering. When the plant is dried for storage, the volatile oils diminish, reducing the medicinal potency of the herb. Freezing the fresh harvest is a good way to preserve the leaves for later use.

To create a tea, place two ounces of fresh lemon balm leaves in a warmed glass container; bring 2.5 cups of fresh, nonchlorinated water to the boiling point; add it to the herbs; cover; and infuse the tea for about 10 minutes. Once strained, the tea can be consumed warm. The prepared tea will store for about two days in the refrigerator. Lemon balm infusion is a gentle and relaxing tea. It may be enjoyed by the cupful three times a day.

Lemon balm combines well with the leaves of peppermint (Mentha piperita), andnettle (Urtica dioica), and the flowers of chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).


Lemon balm has been used safely for thousands of years. However, pregnant women and individuals with hypothyroidism should avoid use unless under consultation with a physician. Use caution when harvesting because of the likely presence of bees.

Side effects

The sedative effect of lemon balm means that it can depress the central nervous system when given in high doses. In addition, it has been reported that persons with glaucoma should avoid using essential oil of lemon balm, as it can raise the pressure inside the eye.


Lemon balm should be used in lower dosages when combined with other herbs, particularly such other sedative herbs as valerian. In addition, lemon balm should not be taken together with prescription sedatives or alcohol, as it can intensify their effects.

Lemon balm has been reported to interfere with the action of thyroid hormones. Persons taking any medication containing thyroid hormones should not take lemon balm.

A physician should be consulted before taking lemon balm in conjunction with any other prescribed pharmaceuticals.


Blumenthal, Mark. The Complete German Commission E Mongraphs, Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Massachusetts: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998.

Bown, Deni. The Herb Society of America, Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses.New York: D.K. Publishing, Inc., 1995.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Lust, John. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.

McVicar, Jekka. Herbs for the Home. New York: Viking Studio Books, 1995.


Mrlianova, M., D. Tekel'ova, M. Felklova, et al. "The Influence of the Harvest Cut Height on the Quality of the Herbal Drugs Melissae folium and Melissae herba."Planta Medica 68 (February 2002): 178-180.

Patora, J., and B. Klimek. "Flavonoids from Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae)." Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica 59 (March-April 2002): 139-143.


Herb Research Foundation. 1007 Pearl St., Suite 200, Boulder, CO 80302. (303) 449-2265. <www.herbs.org>.

Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. P. O. Box 4565, Bisbee, AZ 85603. (520) 432-5855. <www.swsbm.com>.

Clare Hanrahan

Rebecca J. Frey, PhD


How to best harvest and prepare lemon balm

Saturday, September 17, 2011 by: Lenette Nakauchi
Tags: lemon balm, herb, health news

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033599_lemon_balm_herb.html#ixzz2bm14Mg2z

(NaturalNews) Known to the scientific community as melissa officinalis, lemon balm is an herb that has been used for centuries. Valued around the world for its soothing properties, lemon balm is a common plant in many home gardens that can be cultivated for a variety of purposes, such as a natural remedy for a diverse list of ailments.

Native to the Mediterranean region and the Near East, this perennial plant yields pale yellow blossoms that sometimes also bloom white or lilac. The blossoms are clustered in groups, and the leaves have jagged edges that are dark green on the top and light green on the bottom. With long stalks and oil glands on the underside of each plant, lemon balm grows between one and three feet in height. According to history books, monks living in the 10th century grew lemon balm to use in tonics. The herb is also known as bee balm, as it has traditionally been used by bee keepers to attract bees to hives.

Lemon balm is highly valued because of its many applications as a natural treatment for a variety of health issues. The benefits of bee balm include:
* Soothing effects on the nervous system
* Treatment of insomnia, tension, and stress
* Relaxation in a lemon balm bath
* Soothing effects when consumed in tincture or juice
* Heightened longevity
* Enhanced mood of homes and offices when used in potpourri and other decorations
* Calming of stomach issues and digestive disorders, including nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, colic, dysentery, and colitis
* Enhanced liver and gallbladder function
* Quieted anxiety and depression
* Relaxed menstrual cramps and irritability related to PMS
* Treatment for headaches, migraines, vertigo, ringing in the ears, and blood pressure (when combined with linden flowers)
* Reduced fever and treatment of infections and coughs, as well as bronchitis, when used in a hot infusion
* Treatment of cold sores and overactive thyroids
* Cleansing of skin when added to natural cosmetics

Lemon balm is easily cultivated, harvested, and prepared. The herb, which requires minimal maintenance, can be grown in garden plots, containers, or window boxes and loves both sunny places and protected environments (though it does thrive in moist soil with good drainage). The plant spreads quickly and does require weeding, which must be handled delicately, as bee balm has shallow roots.

Lemon balm is ready to harvest in May and June, just before the blossoms develop. At this point in development, the herb will contain the most essential oils. Its leaves can be harvested at any time, but it is best to pick them in the morning. When handling the leaves, be careful not to bruise them, as they are fragile.

To harvest the full plant, cut it 2 inches above the ground and either hang it to dry in an airy, shady location or lay it out on a tray. Be sure that the plant is dried quickly, as it will turn black if not promptly prepared. To store parts of the harvest for later, can it in airtight jars or freeze it with ice cubes. Keep in mind that the first year's plants may be scarce, but more will grow during the second year.

Lemon balm is a low-maintenance and highly versatile herb that can provide many health benefits for those that use it, including soothing of several digestive issues as well as the alleviation of stress and anxiety, among other things. Anyone looking for a natural way to enhance their health would do well to grow, harvest, and prepare their own lemon balm.



About the author

Lenette Nakauchi is a vibration exercise and detox expert who is passionate about demonstrating to others how to get lean and fit in a fun, healthy, sustainable way. Learn more about vibration exercise and how it's used for fitness, therapy, and weight loss at http://www.thenoblerexk1.com. Learn more about her detox and cleansing product at http://www.3daycleanse.com.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033599_lemon_balm_herb.html#ixzz2bm1BUqwy


Lemon balm


Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to help promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores (oral herpes).

Plant Description

Native to Europe, lemon balm is grown all over the world. It is grown not only in herb gardens or to attract bees, but also in crops for medicine, cosmetics, and furniture polish manufacturing. The plant grows up to 2 feet high, sometimes higher if not maintained. In the spring and summer, clusters of small, light yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. The leaves are very deeply wrinkled and range from dark green to yellowish green in color, depending on the soil and climate. If you rub your fingers on these leaves, your fingers will smell tart and sweet, like lemons. The leaves are similar in shape to mint leaves, and come from the same plant family.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Insomnia and anxiety

Several studies show that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian, hops, and chamomile) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Few studies have examined lemon balm by itself, except for topical use. For example, in one study of people with minor sleep problems, 81% of those who took an herbal combination of valerian and lemon balm reported sleeping much better than those who took placebo. But it's not clear from this and other studies whether lemon balm or valerian (or the combination) is responsible for the result.

The same is true of several studies for anxiety, which used a combination of herbs to reduce symptoms.

In another double blind, placebo controlled study, 18 healthy volunteers received 2 separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm increased mood and significantly increased calmness and alertness.


Some studies suggest that topical ointments containing lemon balm may help heal cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). In one study of 116 people with HSV, those who applied lemon balm cream to their lip sores experienced significant improvement in redness and swelling after only 2 days. Other symptoms, such as pain and scabbing, did not improve. Both the patients and their doctors reported that the lemon balm ointment was highly effective. Another large study involving three German hospitals and one dermatology clinic showed that, when lemon balm was used to treat the primary infection of HSV I, not a single recurrence was noted. The cream has also been found to reduce the healing time of both genital and oral herpes. Several animal studies also support the value of topical lemon balm for herpes lesions. And preliminary studies show that lemon balm exhibited a high, concentration-dependent activity against HIV infection.

Other uses

Some evidence suggests that lemon balm, in combination with other herbs, may help treat indigestion. Others reveal that lemon balm oil has a high degree of antibacterial activity. In one study, lemon balm showed adequate activity against Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus auerus. And a few studies have found that lemon balm may help improve cognitive function and decrease agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease.

What's It Made Of?

Lemon balm supplements are made from the leaves of the plant. Essential oils made from lemon balm leaves contain plant chemicals called terpenes, which play at least some role in the herb's relaxing and antiviral effects. Lemon balm also contains substances called tannins, which may be responsible for many of the herb's antiviral effects. Lemon balm also contains eugenol, which calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues, and kills bacteria.

Available Forms

Lemon balm is available as a dried leaf that can be bought in bulk. It is also sold as tea, and in capsules, extracts, tinctures, and oil. Some creams used in Europe, which contain high levels of lemon balm, are not available in the United States. On the other hand, teas can be applied to the skin with cotton balls. Lemon balm is also available in homeopathic remedies and as aromatherapy (essential oil).

How to Take It


Lemon balm may be used topically in children to treat cold sores. Speak to your health care provider for appropriate dosage for the child's age.


For difficulty sleeping, or to reduce indigestion, flatulence, or bloating, consult a knowledgeable health care provider for the specific dose to best fit your needs. Possible doses may be as follows:

·         Capsules: Take 300 - 500 mg dried lemon balm, 3 times daily or as needed.

·         Tea: 1.5 - 4.5 grams (1/4 - 1 teaspoonful) of dried lemon balm herb in hot water. Steep and drink up to 4 times daily.

·         Tincture: 60 drops of lemon balm daily

·         Topical: Apply topical cream to affected area, 3 times daily or as directed.

For cold sores or herpes sores, steep 2 - 4 teaspoonfuls of crushed leaf in 1 cup boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool. Apply tea with cotton balls to the sores throughout the day.


The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take lemon balm.

Possible Interactions

Lemon balm may potentially interact with the following medications:

Sedatives, thyroid medications -- Lemon balm may interact with sedatives and thyroid medications. If you are taking sedatives (for insomnia or anxiety) or medications to regulate your thyroid, ask your doctor before taking lemon balm.

HIV medications -- It is not clear whether lemon balm interacts with antiretroviral agents. At this time, avoid use of lemon balm if you're taking medication for HIV.

Supporting Research

Awad R, Levac D, Cybulska P, Merali Z, Trudeau VL, Arnason JT. Effects of traditionally used anxiolytic botanicals on enzymes of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):933-42.

Ballard CG, O'Brien JT, Reichelt K, Perry EK. Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;63(7):553-8.

Berdonces JL. Attention deficit and infantile hyperactivity. [Spanish]. Rev Enferm. 2001;24(1):11-14.

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:230-232.

de Sousa AC, Alviano DS, Blank AF, Alves PB, Alviano CS, Gattass CR. Melissa officinalis L. essential oil: antitumoral and antioxidant activities. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004;56(5):677-81.

Dos Santos-Neto LL, de Vilhena Toledo MA, Medeiros-Souza P, de Souza GA. The use of herbal medicine in Alzheimer's disease-a systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Dec;3(4):441-5.

Ernst E. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. Mosby, Edinburgh; 2001:169.

Gaby AR. Natural remedies for Herpes simplex. Altern Med Rev. 2006;11(2):93-101.

Geuenich S, Goffinet C, Venzke S, Nolkemper S, Baumann I, Plinkert P, Reichling J, Keppler OT. Aqueous extracts from peppermint, sage and lemon balm leaves display potent anti-HIV-1 activity by increasing the virion density. Retrovirology. 2008;5:27.

Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 4th ed. Montvalie, NJ: Thomson Healthcare; 2007:514-515.

Gutierrez J, Rodriguez G, Barry-Ryan C, Bourke P. Efficacy of plant essential oils against foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria associated with ready to eat vegetables: antimicrobial and sensory screening. J Food Proct. 2008;71(9):1846-54.

Hncianu M, Aprotosoaie AC, Gille E, Poiat A, Tuchilu C, Spac A, Stnescu U. Chemical composition and in vitro antimicrobial activity of essential oil Melissa officinalis L. from Romania. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2008;112(3):843-7.

Kennedy DO, Little W, Haskell CF, Scholey AB. Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress. Phytother Res. 2006;20(2):96-102.

Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):607-13.

Kennedy DO, Wake G, Savelev S, et al., Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003;28(10):1871-81.

LaValle JB, Krinsky DL, Hawkins EB, et al. Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide. Hudson, OH:LexiComp; 2000: 469.

Madisch A, Melderis H, Mayr G, Sassin I, Hotz J. A plant extract and its modified preparation in functional dyspepsia. Results of a double-blind placebo controlled comparative study. [German]. Z Gastroenterol. 2001;39(7):511-517.

Mantle D, Pickering AT, Perry AK. Medicinal plant extracts for the treatment of dementia: a review of their pharmacology, efficacy and tolerability. CNS Drugs. 2000;13:201-213.

Mazzanti G, Battinelli L, Pompeo C, Serrilli AM, Rossi R, Sauzullo I, et al. Inhibitory activity of Melissa officinalis L. extract on Herpes simplex virus type 2 replication. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(16):1433-40.

Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine. 2006;13(6):383-7.

Nolkemper S, Reichling J, Stintzing FC, Carle R, Schnitzler P. Antiviral Effect of Aqueous Extracts from Species of the Lamiaceae Family against Herpes simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in vitro. Planta Med. 200672(15):1378-82.

Patora J, Klimek B. Flavonoids from lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae). Acta Pol Pharm. 2002;59(2):139-43.

Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA. Saunders Elsevier. 2007.

Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002:249-251.

Schnitzler P, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, Reichling J. Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpes viruses. Phytomedicine. 2008;15(9):734-40.

Triantaphyllou K, Blekas G, Boskou D. Antioxidative properties of water extracts obtained from herbs of the species Lamiaceae. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2001;52(4):313-317.

Alternative Names

Balm mint; Blue balm; Garden balm; Honey plant; Melissa officinalis; Sweet balm


Version Info

·         Last Reviewed on 03/05/2011

·         Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Lemon Balm in Autoimmune Diseases

The uses of the herb Melissa officianales in autoimmune diseases

Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is used to relieve symptoms and promote immune system health in patients with autoimmune disease.

The herb lemon balm or balm (Melissa officianales), a member of the mint family, originated in the Near East and was later transplanted to Europe by Benedictine missionaries who recognized its beneficial effects on health. In the 18th century, European settlers brought lemon balm to America for its uses as both a medicinal agent and a flavoring ingredient. Anyone fortunate enough to have lemon balm planted in his or her garden recognizes the relaxing aroma of this sprightly plant. The species name Melissa, which means honeybees, refers to the distinct fragrance, which accounts for the plant's ability to attract bees. Lemon balm is used to relieve common symptoms such as headache, rash and anxiety and to improve immune system health in patients with autoimmune diseases.

The active medicinal ingredients in lemon balm include citronella, citral, tannins, and geraniol. Preparations containing lemon balm should clearly list lemon balm or Melissa officianales as ingredients rather than lemongrass or lemon oil. Used as an essential plant oil, as a tincture, or as a tea composed of dry leaves, lemon balm is used to treat anxiety, depression, palpitations, respiratory congestion, allergic reactions, menstrual pain, and nervousness. Lemon balm is used to mildly reduce thyroid hormone levels and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Lemon balm promotes immune system health by fighting bacteria and viruses, which is demonstrated by its ability to reduce fever, spasms, flatulence and cramps. Lemon balm also promotes detoxification by stimulating liver and gall bladder function. Used externally as a pure oil diluted with a carrier such as almond or jojoba oils, lemon balm is used to treat insect bites, hives, blemishes, chest pain, fever blisters, and shingles.

Used as a tea lemon balm is used to stimulate the menstrual period in women with amenorrhea (absent or scanty menstrual periods), and is particularly useful in women nearing menopause.

Lemon balm is also reported to have energizing effects in people with fatigue and is recommended for chronic fatigue syndrome. As a tea, lemon balm is also used to relieve migraine headaches.

Used as an injection along with Lycopus virginicus or bugleweed, lemon balm is widely used in Europe for treating Graves' disease. Lemon balm is also used as a tonic or tea to reduce and manage symptoms in Graves' disease. Lemon balm slows pituitary function, lowering TSH levels, which, in turn, reduces thyroid hormone levels. Paradoxically, lemon balm is also used to raise thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism. Lemon balm strengthens rather than stimulates thyroid function, restoring normal levels to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. However, its effects are mild and lemon balm is not considered an effective treatment for patients with moderate to severe hypothyroidism.

The polyphenol tannins in lemon balm make it an effective antiviral treatment. Lemon balm is a first-line herbal treatment for herpes outbreaks. The high selenium content in lemon balm assists with its ability to regulate thyroid function and helps raise antioxidant levels, promoting immune system health. In autoimmune disease, oxidative stress is considered to be a major environmental trigger. In Europe, preparations containing 700 mg lemon balm are used to treat the herpes disorder shingles. Topical creams containing 1 percent L-701, a dried extract of lemon balm, are also widely used to treat oral and skin blisters in herpes infections. Studies suggest that lemon balm reduces the development of resistance in the herpes virus and blocks the attachment of herpes virus to the receptor sites of host cells, preventing the spread of infection.

As with any newly added medicinal product, patients should watch for side effects or allergic reactions. Lemon balm is not recommended for patients with glaucoma. ♦

© 10 Jul 2006 Copyrighted by Elaine Moore


James Duke, The Green Pharmacy, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1997.

Aromatherapy Guide Companion to The Complete Guide To Natural Healing, 1996.

The copyright of the article Lemon Balm in Autoimmune Diseases in Autoimmune Disease is owned by Elaine Moore. Permission to republish Lemon Balm in Autoimmune Diseases in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


The lovely, pesky herb named lemon balm

By Barbara Damrosch,June 20, 2012

Such a lovely herb. So pretty in the garden, so fragrant, so soothing in a tea. Thus go the usual hymns of praise for lemon balm — not a major herb but, to its admirers, one that should be in every herb garden. This summer it’s certainly in mine, in most of it in fact. A lemon bomb has gone off there.

The original plant was always vigorous but not troublesome. Gradually it encroached on, then nearly swamped, the oregano — which is by no means a weak competitor. Now lemon balm seedlings have carpeted the surrounding territory as well, even the cracks between pavers. The plant is well known for its double arsenal of spreading roots and prolific seed. Perhaps last winter’s mildness (balminess?) triggered this spring’s seed explosion. In any case, it’s not surprising that this herb remains a minor one.

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The virtues noted above are nonetheless real. Lemon balm’s leaves are bright green with neatly scalloped edges. The modest whitish flowers are almost on a par, as bee magnets, with showier blooms like lavender. Fragrance is the plant’s strongest point. Even pulling out thousands of tiny volunteers is relaxing, thanks to the minty-lemon scent your hands stir up. How many nuisance-creators come with aromatherapy?

They say that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If life gives you 20 times more lemon balm than you want, there are some oft-touted options, many of them useless. The plant’s minty-lemony flavor doesn’t hold up under much heat. It’s good in iced tea, with honey. A few snippets spark up a salad. But like most of the mint family, to which it belongs, lemon balm has firm, rather scratchy leaves that stick to your tongue, mouth and throat when you try to swallow them. (Basil, a more popular mint cousin, does not.) Also, the lemon notes that speak so well to the nose are more subtle to the palate. You don’t get the lemony burst you get from lemon verbena or lemon grass.

The most famous lemon balm recipe is an easy one: Put some fresh leaves in a cup and pour in boiling water. The resulting tea is guaranteed to quiet the nerves, soothe aching muscles, calm the savage beast and relax her for sleep. After the cup I made last night I fell asleep on the couch immediately. But because that happens every night after a long day of farm work, it was hardly a controlled experiment.

I also tried the second most common recipe, lemon verbena pesto. Like other pestos that employ green matter other than basil — arugula, parsley and such — this one suffered by comparison with the herb that made pesto a household word. Blended with olive oil, garlic and coarse salt, my pesto was okay. Tossed with spaghetti it was actually quite good after I added handfuls of grated imported parmigiano-reggiano cheese. And a generous squirt of lemon.

Damrosch is a freelance writer and author

of “The Garden Primer.”



Lovely, lovely lemon balm

4 May, 2012


By Staff Writer
NYR Natural News

It is a staple of wild and herb gardens, where it attracts bees, butterflies and other precious pollinators. But Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has also been used for hundreds of years for its calming, soothing and healing properties.

Take a walk in the garden and rub your fingers on some lemon balm leaves and your fingers will smell tart and sweet, like lemons. Those leaves are similar in shape to mint leaves, and indeed the two plants come from the same plant family, which is why they share some similar medicinal properties – and are often used together.

Lemon balm is an uplifting herb that has long been known for its aromatic qualities and its culinary uses. The Greeks relied on it to treat insomnia, to calm nerves and alleviate anxiety.

Other traditional medicinal uses have included improving appetite, and easing the pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). It was, and continues to be, used as an ingredient in Mediterranean dishes, as a garnish, as a fresh flavouring for deserts and sweets and to make hot and cold teas.

Lemon balm is also one of the ingredients used to make the infamous botanical-based liqueur Absinthe, sometimes called the ‘green fairy’ for its alleged psychoactive properties.

Traditional wisdom, modern science

Today’s science has shown that there was ancient wisdom behind using this herb to relieve insomnia and to induce a relaxed and serene state of mind.

Recent studies have shown, for instance, that the plant is rich in volatile, oils called terpenes, which have mild sedative properties and are effective in alleviating moderate anxiety and stress.

Animal data shows it relieves stress and anxiety and sleeping disorders effectively. But human studies that focus exclusively on lemon balm are harder to find. Instead we very often find it studied in combination with other, complementary herbs such as mint, hops or chamomile.

Keeping calm

The lemon balm/valerian mix is one of these classic combinations that has been studied many times, mostly in small studies, in humans.

There has, however, been one double-blind placebo-controlled study (that has looked at the anti-anxiety effects of a lemon balm and valerian (Valeriana officinalis) combination on. This trial of healthy young adults found that a lower dose (600mg) of lemon balm and valerian was effective at reducing anxiety but, surprisingly a higher dose (1800mg) was associated with a small increase in state anxiety, reinforcing one of the principles of natural medicine – that more is more always better!

In children, another study also looked at the effects of a lemon balm/valerian combination on restlessness and sleep problems. Among the more than 900 children studied, the combination was found to improve sleep problems in 80% of children and restlessness in 70%.

In another small German language study of sleep quality in adults by Dressing and colleagues the researchers compared the effect of the lemon balm/valerian combination with that of the benzodiazepine sleeping drug triazolam (Halcion). The effectiveness of the herbal combination was similar to that of Halcion, as determined by its ability to help users fall asleep and the quality of sleep.

Gut reactions

A small 2006 study found that a blend containing Melissa officinalisMentha spicata (spearmint) and Coriandrum sativum (coriander) alleviated the severity and frequency of  abdominal pain and discomfort of IBS better than placebo.

Another study found that breast-fed infants with colic who were given a blend of fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile twice a day for a week cried less than other breast-fed infants with colic.

And more besides

Lemon balm shows promise in a few other areas as well.

Applying a lip balm containing 1% lemon balm extract was found to shorten healing time, prevent the spread of infection, and reduce symptoms of recurring cold sores.

In a small study in 2003 taking a standardized extract of lemon balm by mouth, 60 drops daily for 4 months, appeared to reduce agitation and improve symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Everyday uses

Lemon balm can grow in most gardens and is a delight to harvest fresh to use in cooking and home remedies.

It can be used in several simple ways to maintain health, for instance:

Tincture – 10-20 drops in water 3-5 times daily for depression, tension headaches and anxiety.

Infusion – 1 heaped teaspoon of the dried herb, or double that amount of the fresh herb, to 175ml boiled water can be taken 3 times daily for depression, nervous exhaustion, indigestion or nausea. For children use a more dilute dose.

Essential oil – Add 5-6 drops to15ml (1 tbl) of almond oil and use as a massage oil for depression and tension as well as to relieve asthma and bronchitis. This can also be dabbed on cold sores at the first sign of symptoms. You can also add 1 ml (20 drops) to 100ml of water in a spray bottle and spray on your skin to repel insects.

For a delicious way to get the benefits of fresh lemon balm you might also want to try our recipe for Lemon Balm and Honey Purée.



Natural sleep aids are worth trying

People’s Pharmacy

Melatonin or herbs such as valerian, lemon balm, passion flower and hops may help you get a good night’s sleep.

April 19, 2010|Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon | The People's Pharmacy













I have suffered from insomnia for many years. My doctor prescribed Ambien, but it doesn't seem to be working very well anymore. I also suspect that it affected my memory.

Now the doctor is suggesting the antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil). The side effects I have read about make me nervous. Is there any herb or home remedy that might help me get some sleep?

Amitriptyline is an old-fashioned (tricyclic) antidepressant. Some people experience a morning hangover effect that leaves them drowsy and disoriented. It also can dry the mouth, cause constipation and affect cognitive function, so it is not appropriate for older people.

There are a number of natural approaches for insomnia that may be helpful. The dietary supplement melatonin or herbs such as valerian, lemon balm, passion flower or hops may be helpful. A light, high-carbohydrate snack before bedtime is sometimes beneficial.

You sometimes get questions about how to get rid of warts. I've had horses all my life, and warts on a horse's muzzle are common. I've always rubbed the milk from a bleeding milkweed plant on them. It takes only a few times.

Most horsemen know of this fix even if it is restricted to summer. It also worked on my daughter when she got warts on her hands and knees.

Topical application of milkweed juice is a time-honored wart remedy. Many others also have reported success with this native plant.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. http://www.peoples?pharmacy.com



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