Lemon Balm for Sleep
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.
Sleep disorders have become very common medical concerns nowadays negatively affecting health and quality of life and increasing the risk of developing life-threatening health issues such as cardiovascular diseases. Lemon balm represents a popular natural sleep aid throughout the world. The healing properties of lemon balm for sleep and anxiety have been identified in traditional medicine dating back around 2000 years ago.
In this article, we’ll discuss what actually lemon balm is, its active compounds and medicinal properties, and the benefits of lemon balm for sleep along with how to use it and possible side effects. So, keep reading to learn more about the miraculous sleep aid lemon balm in a little bit of detail.
Table of contents
- What is lemon balm?
- Active compounds and medicinal properties of lemon balm
- Benefits of lemon balm for sleep
- How to use lemon balm
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is lemon balm?
Lemon balm, botanically known as Melissa officinalis, is a medicinal herb that belongs to the mint family. It is endemic to Europe but now is grown throughout the world. Lemon balm is known by many different names including bee balm, sweet balm, honey plant, sweet mary, and Xiang Feng Cao in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It grows around two feet high and bears small heart-shaped or ovate leaves that have a sweet lemony aroma.
The leaves of lemon balm are widely valued to flavor foods and prepare medicines which is why it is widely grown in herb gardens and crops all over the world.
Active compounds and medicinal properties of lemon balm
Multiple studies pointed out several effects of lemon balm that include hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, antiviral, antispasmodic, hypoglycemic, and of course, sedative and hypnotic which supports natural sleep pattern.
Major active compounds found in lemon balm essential oils are volatile in nature such as sesquiterpene citrals like neral and geranial that give the herb its natural lemony aroma. Other compounds include monoterpenes which are considered responsible for their calming and relaxing effects. It also contains tannins and eugenol that can help kill viruses and bacteria, calm muscle spasms, and numb tissues.
Benefits of lemon balm for sleep
The use of lemon balm for sleep, stress, anxiety, and relaxation has been popular throughout history since the period of the Middle Ages, and still today, it is considered a natural sleep aid and is often combined with other relaxing herbs to treat various sleep disorders.
Studies suggest sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea are often associated with anxiety and depression. Lemon balm has an incredible ability to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. It works well both, alone or in combination with other calming herbs such as chamomile, hops, and valerian.
It is believed that lemon balm can enhance the production of serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone or neurotransmitter that can help regulate the body clock and maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle by acting as a precursor of melatonin, a hormone that helps you to fall asleep at night.
A 2014 study on the anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods published in the Nutrients suggested that lemon balm has anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects and can improve mood and cognitive performance.
According to a 2013 study published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers studied 100 women who have complained of sleep disorders during their menopause at 50 to 60 years of age, utilizing randomly selected two groups of 50, an intervention group with lemon or valerian and a placebo group. Researchers have found that intervention with lemon balm or valerian significantly reduced the levels of sleep disorders amongst the women in the intervention group compared to the placebo group and concluded that lemon or valerian can assist with lowering symptoms of sleep disorders during the menopause.
How to use lemon balm
Lemon balm leaves can be used as teas. Supplements are also available in various forms such as capsules, tinctures, powders, and tablets. Lemon balm essential oil is also famous in aromatherapy for promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
The dose of lemon balm extract may vary depending on the strength of the formulation. However, 250 mg to 500 mg of standardized lemon balm extract capsules can be taken two to three times a day. But it’s always the best idea to discuss with a qualified natural medicine practitioner prior to using any supplements to determine the safety and suitable doses.
Precautions and side effects
Lemon balm is possibly safe in recommended amounts. Most clinicians suggest lemon balm supplements for short-term uses with a maximum of up to six weeks. Some people may experience side effects with long-term higher doses such as vomiting, gas, stomach pain, bloating, nausea, headache, ingestion, and painful urination. But these side effects are not common.
Besides, lemon balm may interact with other herbs, supplements, and prescription medications especially thyroid medications, blood thinners, HIV drugs, chemotherapy, and sedatives. Therefore, it’s strongly recommended to ask a licensed naturopathic medicine practitioner or nutritionist prior to using lemon balm supplements to determine whether it is right for you and what doses would be the best for your specific conditions.
Lemon balm has long been known in traditional medicine for its tremendous sedative, calming, relaxing, and sleep-promoting effects for around 2000 years since the time of the Medieval Ages. Today, it is widely used as a popular natural sleep aid since a number of clinical experiences and scientific studies support the benefits of lemon balm for sleep.
Lemon balm may produce some side effects and interact with other medications particularly thyroid medications and sedatives. therefore, it’s recommended to ask a certified naturopathic doctor prior to using lemon balm supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.
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