Lemon Balm is a durable perennial plant named after a Greek Word for “honey bee” (Melissa officinalis). It belongs to the mint family and has been used since Middle Ages traditionally in medicine to help people with stress reduction, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, poor appetite and decrease of discomfort and pain. Recent studies also suggest that Lemon Balm may be used to enhance cognitive abilities and improve memory and speed of processing information. It is also used to treat mental disorders such as hysteria and melancholia.
Lemon Balm originates from Europe but today it is grown all over the world as a nutritional supplement. This plant grows to be two feet tall and has dark to yellow green leafs that are very pleasantly scented like a mild lemon and wrinkly in texture. It has various chemical components that are found within the plant and its extracts. It can be used alone or in combination with other herbs.
Lemon Balm Uses
One of the interesting components of the Lemon Balm is rosmarinic acid which is the enzyme that has been found to remove GABA transaminase. Lemon Balm increases GABA activity in the brain which in turn prevents someone to feel overly excited and maintains the balance. GABA also plays role in our sleep cycles and reduces stress. With Lemon Balm supplement we can stimulate GABA receptors by producing calming and sedative effects on the brain which in turn also decreases anxiety symptoms. This herb influences thyroid gland directly and reduces the output of increased T3 which causes nervous tension. It is suggested that Lemon Balm herb may help people that suffer from hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism as it blocks iodine from converting T4 into T3. Check with your doctor first as it is intended mostly for people with hyperthyroidism.
Lemon Balm also influences receptors in our brain that improve working memory, basic cognitive skills, memory formation and logical thinking. It has been found that Lemon Balm may have good effects on people with Alzheimer’s disease. It can also be used for cold sores, genital herpes, headache when caused by anxiety and Mononucleosis.
Most common, Lemon Balm is used as an anti-anxiety supplement that promotes restful sleep and deep relaxation. Research has found that people that have used Lemon Balm for anxiety symptoms reported significant decrease in stress, depression, nervousness and irritability. One of the important features of the Lemon Balm plant is that it is powerful anti-oxidant with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and it protects against disease and infection while fighting an inflammation of the body at the same time.
Research has found that Lemon Balm may have positive effects on digestive problems such as vomiting, heartburn, gas, bloating, and poor appetite. When someone suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Lemon Balm essential oil may decrease painful symptoms that many people experience. It may provide relief from chronic fatigue syndrome as well as decrease menstrual pain in women. It can also stimulate menstrual period in women that suffer from absent or very weak periods.
It has been suggested that Lemon Balm plant may protect our heart and cardiovascular system as supplement consumption may decrease heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat and certain allergic reactions.
You may take between 300 and 500 mg of Lemon Balm per day for general uses. If you require Lemon Balm supplement as sleeping aid then higher dosage is recommended, although there is no official dosage suggested in those cases. You may try increasing Lemon Balm dosage on your own to see what works for you. If you are unsure, best check with your health care provider or medical doctor.
Lemon Balm may also be bought as a tea or topical skin rub. As with anything, when trying out something new for the first time, it is suggested you start at the lowest possible dosage or amount and see how you react to the supplement/tea/cream first. If you react well, you may start increasing your dosage gradually and find your optimal level.
Lemon Balm is considered safe to use when used in food amounts. It is also considered safe to use in adults for medicinal purposes when used short-term (up to 4 months as per research). When used long term for medicinal purposes, side effects of Lemon Balm are unknown.
Not enough information is known for side effects in pregnancy or when breast-feeding. It is suggested to stay on the safe side and avoid using Lemon Balm if pregnant or breast-feeding.
Although Lemon Balm is considered to be generally safe natural supplement, some people may experience side effects such as drowsiness. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how Lemon Balm affects you.
If you are using medications for anxiety, depression, muscle relaxants, other sedatives and tranquilizers, anti-histamines and anti-seizure drugs it is best to check with your doctor or medical provider first before using Lemon Balm herb in any form. Do not use Lemon Balm if you are using sedative medications such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and similar others.