Benefits of Lemon Balm
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Lemon balm biologically known as Melissa officinalis is a lemon-scented herb belonging to the mint family. The plant originated in Europe, the Middle East, and central Asia, now grown in different parts of the world. It has been used in traditional medicine to boost mood, improve cognitive abilities, relieve fever, nerve pain, and headache and treat stings, bites, and wounds. Lemon balm was traditionally used since the 14th century when Carmelite water, an alcoholic extract beverage was made and is still used in Germany. In classic literature, lemon balm has been added to teas or wines to help relieve various health conditions.
This article details lemon balm benefits, how to use it, dosage, and possible risks or side effects.
Benefits of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm possesses a bioactive compound known as Rosmarinic acid, containing potent antibacterial and antioxidant properties which protect the body from a broad spectrum of diseases.
May Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Lemon balm possesses calming and relaxing properties that ease anxiety, make you feel relaxed, and boost your mood. Studies showed that the administration of lemon balm supplements helped improve stress and reduce the feeling of anxiety. 
Moreover, inhaling the aroma of lemon balm essential oil calms the nerves, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves mood.
Improve Sleep Quality
Lemon balm when used with valerian helps people having difficulty falling asleep. It helps promote relaxation, reduce restlessness and treat sleep problems like insomnia. Taking a cup of brewed lemon balm tea with valerian before bed calms the nerves and improves sleep quality. 
May Improve Cognitive Abilities
Besides reducing stress and improving sleep quality, lemon balm benefits people improve cognitive abilities. The study revealed that people ingesting lemon balm have better memory, increased concentration, and enhanced learning abilities than those who didn’t consume this amazing herb. 
Help Treat Cold Sores
Lemon balm oil when applied to the skin gives relief from cold sores and other skin conditions. Research showed that people using lemon balm topically on affected skin have reduced symptoms and increased the duration of cold sore outbreaks. 
For this purpose, always perform a small patch test on the forearm before use on a cold sore. If you don’t experience any irritation or allergic reaction in the next 24 hours, it is safe to use on cold sores.
Has Antimicrobial Properties
Lemon balm supplements have potential to combat bacterial and fungal infections. Lemon balm oil when applied to the affected area kills microorganisms like bacteria and fungi causing infections. 
It is effective against various strains of bacteria, yeast, and viruses such as herpes viruses.
May Treat Indigestion
Lemon balm has beneficial effects on digestion and relieves digestive complaints like indigestion and abdominal discomfort. A study showed that lemon can soothe the digestive tissues and prevent ulcer formation. 
There is some evidence showing that lemon balm when used with peppermint or angelica root alleviates constipation and abdominal bloating.
Relieves Headache, Toothache, and PMS Symptoms
Consumption of lemon balm supplements is greatly associated with improved premenstrual symptoms in high school-aged women.
Lemon balm oil when applied to the painful area helps relieve pain and inflammation. It is usually applied on temples or inhaled which gives relief from headaches. 
May Treat Overactive Thyroid
Thyroid conditions (either overactive or underactive) are the conditions affecting about 12 percent of the USA population and can lead to metabolic disorders. Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism is a thyroid problem that can get benefit from Mellisa officinalis. Lemon balm extract is prescribed as an effective remedy for overactive thyroid by various health practitioners. MO extract contains bioactive compounds which reduce the activity of the thyroid gland. 
Powerful Antioxidant Properties
Rosemarinic acid, one of the chemical compounds of lemon balm has potent antioxidant properties which scavenge free radicals. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, prevent cellular damage and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
Lemon balm's antioxidant properties protect the body from various diseases including heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. These antioxidants also prevent cellular damage and reduce the risk of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, these compounds reduce inflammation and slow the aging process.  
Dosage and How to Use Lemon Balm?
- Lemon balm can be taken as a supplement, extract, or rubbed on the skin in form of lotions, cream, or balms. Lemon balm essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to relieve stress, keep you calm and boost your mood and sleep.
- It is suggested to take 300-600 mg of lemon balm capsules to relieve stress and anxiety.
- To improve cognitive abilities and promote sleep, a cup of lemon balm tea with valerian is recommended.
- Lemon balm comes in different forms like tablets, capsules, powder, tincture, extract, and essential oil. There is no standard dosage of lemon balm to be followed. Some studies have used lemon balm capsules in dosages of 250 mg to 500 mg and are considered safe to use.
- Preparations with 1% lemon balm are applied on the areas affected with cold sores 3-4 times a day for better results.
Side Effects and Interactions
- Lemon balm is usually considered safe when used in small quantities for a short period in an appropriate manner. However, when used in large quantities for an extended period, it causes some adverse effects including nausea, upset stomach, headache, dizziness, allergic reaction, and skin irritation.
- Increased consumption of lemon balm can affect thyroid activity leading to underactive thyroid which affects the metabolic processes of the body.
- Do not apply concentrated lemon balm essential oil directly on the skin, dilute the oil with some carrier oil and perform a small patch test before applying to a large area of skin.
- Lemon balm prevents blood clotting and should be avoided 02 weeks before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.
- Lemon balm has mild sedative properties and can cause sedation when used with sleep medications, sedatives, or alcohol.
Precautions to Take
It is suggested to avoid the lemon balm in pregnant and lactating women and children.
Always consult your health care provider before using the lemon balm regularly if you are using some medications for thyroids, sleep problems, and blood thinners.
Lemon balm is packed with bioactive compounds with powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that protect against infections and reduce diseases. It is not meant to replace a doctor’s advice but is used as natural complementary medicine. Lemon balm supplements are associated with improved mood and concentration, relieved pain and inflammation, promoted digestion and liver health, and enhanced brain and skin health.
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