Lemon Balm: Medical Uses Lemon balm is used as a sleep aid and for nervousness and stomachaches. Historical Uses Paracelsus called lemon balm “the elixir of life”. Benedictine missionaries first brought lemon balm to the West. Historically, leaves were picked fresh and used as a poultice to reduce inflammation and a cup of lemon balm tea was used to reduce a fever. Melissa means “honeybee” in Greek. If smeared on hives, lemon balm will attract bees. Growth Lemon balm is a member of the Lamiaceae family and is native to southern Europe. The plant grows indoors or out, and it prefers moist soil with partial shade. The leaves are lemon scented. Part Used • Leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Citral • Citonellal • Geraniol • Flavonoids • Quercitin Lemon Balm: Clinical Uses Lemon balm is used as a sleep aid and for nervousness and stomachaches. It is used externally for oral herpes. In Europe, lemon balm topical cream is used to treat oral and genital herpes. It is approved by the German Commission E for “nervous sleeping disorders and gastrointestinal complaints”. Mechanism of Action The actions of lemon balm are unknown. One theory is that lemon balm may make it difficult for the Read more […]
Archive for category Lemon balm'
Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What will this herb do for me? Lemon balm has several different actions and is used for a number of different conditions. Taking the herb internally may help reduce anxiety and improve mood and mental concentration. When taken together with valerian, it can relieve insomnia. It may also relieve stomach spasms associated with nervousness, or in chronic, non-specific colitis when taken as part of a specific herbal combination. Melissa cream applied four times daily to herpes simplex infections can reduce symptoms, accelerate healing and reduce the chance of the infection spreading. When will it start to work? Approximately 1 month’s treatment with the essential oil is required for calming effects on agitation in dementia to be seen. Taken internally with valerian, effects on sleep may be seen after 9 days’ use. Improved memory occurred within 2.5 hours according to one study; however, it is not known if and when effects are seen in dementia. Melissa cream has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of herpes simplex within 2 days, when applied fourtimes daily. Are there any safety issues? One study using lemon balm in tablet form found that it was well Read more […]
Toxicity Not known Adverse Reactions Lemon balm is well tolerated according to one double-blind, randomised crossover study. Significant Interactions Controlled clinical studies are not available, so interactions are speculative and based on evidence of activity. BARBITURATES Increased sedative effects: one animal study found that concomitant administration of lemon balm extract with pentobarbital produced an increased sedative effect — observe patients taking this combination. CHOLINERGIC DRUGS Additive effects are theoretically possible and may be beneficial — observe patients taking this combination. Contraindications and Precautions Hypothyroidism — one in vitro study found that an extract of Melissa officinalis inhibited both the extrathyroidal enzymic T4-5′-deiodination to T3 and the T4-5′-deiodination. Whether this has any clinical significance has yet to be determined. Pregnancy Use Safety has not been scientifically established and is unknown. Practice Points / Patient Counselling • Lemon balm has been used traditionally to treat insomnia, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and dementia. It is also used to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms associated with spasms and nervousness. • Read more […]
In clinical practice, lemon balm is often prescribed in combination with other herbal medicines. As a reflection of this, many clinical studies have investigated the effects of lemon balm as an ingredient of a herbal combination, making it difficult to determine the efficacy of this herb individually. ANXIETY Although used traditionally as a treatment for anxiety, most modern-day evidence comes from in vivo studies, as the herb has not been clinically tested to a significant degree. However, the essential oil of lemon balm has been investigated under double-blind placebo-controlled conditions and found to be a safe and effective treatment for clinically significant agitation in people with severe dementia. The trial, which involved 71 subjects, found that after 1 month’s treatment, patients were less agitated, less socially withdrawn and spent more time in constructive activities than those in the placebo group. Commission E approves the use of lemon balm in the treatment of anxiety and restlessness. COGNITIVE FUNCTION Lemon balm has been used for centuries to improve cognitive function and encouraging results from a 2002 clinical study confirm that it can influence memory. The randomised, double-blind crossover Read more […]
Common Name Lemon balm Other Names Balm mint, bee balm, blue balm, common balm, cure-all, dropsy plant, garden balm, sweet balm Botanical Name / Family Melissa officinalis (family Labiatae) Plant Part Used Aerial parts Historical Note Lemon balm was used in ancient Greece and Rome as a topical treatment for wounds. In the Middle Ages it was used internally as a sedative and by the 17th century, English herbalist Culpeper claimed it could improve mood and stimulate clear thinking. Nowadays, it is still used to induce a sense of calm and help with anxiety, but is also added to cosmetics, insect repellants, furniture polish and food. Chemical Components Flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, triterpenes, essential oil and sesquiterpenes. Of note, the herb contains citronellal, caffeic acid, eugenol, rosmarinic acid and choline. Growing and harvesting methods have a major influence on the amount of volatile oil present in the leaves. It has been found that the oil content in the herb is highest in the top third and lowest in the bottom two-thirds. Lemon balm: Main Actions ANXIOLYTIC AND SEDATIVE Over the years, a number of studies involving rodents have suggested specific anxiolytic or sedative effects. More Read more […]