Reasons Lemon Balm Is A Must-Have Ingredient

Written by Gayathri Vijay

The lemon balm plant is a member of the mint family and is popular for its refreshing lemony-mint fragrance. It rejuvenates your senses, uplifts the mood, and has a host of other health benefits. Lemon balm extract is used in traditional medicines, is a popular flavoring agent in beverages, and can be easily grown at home. Keep scrolling to learn more about lemon balm, its benefits, how to use it, and possible risks

What Is Lemon Balm?

Lemon balm is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family. It has a sweet and refreshing lemony fragrance. Lemon balm is available in multiple forms like essential oil, syrups, dried leaves, and tinctures. It has a unique chemical composition. What is it about lemon balm that makes it well suited for overall consumption?

The Composition Of Lemon Balm

The health benefits of lemon balm are attributed to its chemical composition and the different phytochemicals. The dried lemon balm leaves contain (1):

  • Essential oil: 0.32%, of which citral (neral and geranial) is 0.13%
  • Polyphenols: 8%
  • Hydroxycinnamic compounds: 3% (of which rosmarinic acid is 4.1%)
  • Flavonoids: 5%

Compared to dried leaves, lemon balm tea contains higher amounts of citral (74%), essential oil (10mg/l), and polyphenols (1.07 g/l).

All these phytochemicals and flavonoids make lemon balm an effective antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory agent. It also exhibits anti-diabetic effects (2). The next section discusses the benefits of lemon balm in detail.

6 Benefits of Lemon Balm

1. May Improve Digestion

Lemon balm is widely used in Iranian folk medicine for its digestive benefits. It is also said to have an antispasmodic effect and reduce muscle spasms. In addition, lemon balm has a diuretic effect and may help minimize gastrointestinal issues (3).

2. May Reduce Anxiety

Lemon balm has psychoneurological and anxiolytic effects, i.e., it can improve cognition and enhance mood by reducing stress and anxiety. Lemon balm tea can calm the nerves and is often used for treating depression and sleeping disorders. It can also reduce irritability and nervousness (4).

3. May Have Antiviral Properties

The dried extracts of lemon balm leaves have antiviral properties and are effective against the herpes simplex virus. However, it is effective at the early stages of the infection and may relieve early symptoms like tingling, itching, burning sensations, and dryness (3).

4. May Help With Alzheimer’s Disease

Lemon balm extract has memory-improving properties and may help promote cognitive ability in people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A small trial showed that lemon balm could help manage mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (5), (6).

5. May Relieve PMS Symptoms

Lemon balm extracts contain caffeic and rosmaric acids, which have a calming and sedative effect on the body. Taking lemon balm capsules (total 1200 mg) daily from the first day to the last day of the menstrual cycle can relieve PMS symptoms, including depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder (7).

6. May Reduce Oxidative Stress

The antioxidants in lemon balm extract reduce oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress can lower metabolism, cause DNA damage, inflammation and lead to various health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  This may also lead to the breakdown of the said body parts (3).

Apart from these benefits, lemon balm adds a lemony-sweet flavor to your drinks. Here is an easy way to consume lemon balm.

How To Prepare Lemon Balm Tea

How-To-Prepare-Lemon-Balm-Tea

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You Will Need (Serves 1)

  • 1½ teaspoons of dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (optional)
  • A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Method

  1. Steep lemon balm leaves in hot water for 3 minutes.
  2. Add honey and cinnamon and strain the tea.

You can powder the dried lemon balm leaves and add them to cake batter, frosting, soups, and salads. However, be careful about the amount you consume.

How Much Lemon Balm Is Too Much?

Oral dosage of 300 mg to 1200 mg or 60 drops (liquid extract) has been clinically studied to have beneficial effects (6), ( 7), (8). Consult a doctor to know the correct dosage. It may vary depending on your overall health and the severity of the underlying condition (if any). Unregulated use of lemon balm may cause serious side effects.

What Are The Risks Involved?

Lemon balm extracts are safe in medicinal amounts. However, mice studies suggest that it may cause acute oral toxicity, liver, and kidney issues (9 ). Excess consumption of lemon balm may also cause:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Regurgitation/acid reflux/ vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Painful urination
  • Stomach pain

Topical application of lemon balm may also trigger an allergic reaction and cause rashes, hives, and irritation (10).

Lemon balm may interact with drugs (11). Talk to your doctor before consuming lemon balm extract if you:

  • Take barbiturates and sedatives
  • Are on glaucoma medications
  • Are on blood thinners
  • Are on thyroid medications
  • Are pregnant or lactating
  • Want to give it to infants and kids

Lemon balm is easy to grow and can be a part of your kitchen garden. Keep reading to find out how!

Growing Lemon Balm At Home

Lemon balm needs direct sunlight can grow in well-drained soil. The seeds take about 14 days to germinate. They bloom throughout the summer until the beginning of fall. Plant it in the early spring and watch it grow into a beautiful, refreshing herb.

To Conclude

Lemon balm is a refreshing herb that has multiple health and cognitive benefits. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves mood, and decreases inflammation in your body to protect against diseases. You can grow it easily in your backyard and kitchen garden. However, be careful about the dosage, especially if you have an underlying condition, and take certain medications. Always consult a doctor to avoid side effects.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is lemon balm extract poisonous?

It is not poisonous. However, excess consumption of lemon balm may cause several side effects and health issues.

How quickly does lemon balm work?

It may take about a month to see the desired results.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The aromatic and polyphenolic composition of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L. subsp. officinalis) tea
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031686597000265
  2. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil from leaves of Algerian Melissa officinalis L.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4464394/
  3. Melissa officinalis L: A Review Study With an Antioxidant Prospective
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5871149/
  4. LEMON BALM (MELISSA OFFICINALIS L.) AN HERBAL MEDICINAL PLANT WITH BROAD THERAPEUTIC USES AND CULTIVATION PRACTICES: A REVIEW
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285581177_LEMON_BALM_MELISSA_OFFICINALIS_L_AN_HERBAL_MEDICINAL_PLANT_WITH_BROAD_THERAPEUTIC_USES_AND_CULTIVATION_PRACTICES_A_REVIEW
  5. Medicinal plants and Alzheimer\’s disease: Integrating ethnobotanical and contemporary scientific evidence
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9884179/
  6. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind randomised placebo controlled trial
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp.74.7.863
  7. Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557408/
  8. Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3230760/
  9. Toxic essential oils part VI: Acute oral toxicity of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) essential oil in BALB/c mice
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31473339/
  10. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7144806_Lemon_balm_Melissa_officinalis_L_an_evidence-based_systematic_review_by_the_Natural_Standard_Research_Collaboration
  11. Herb–drug interactions: an overview of systematic reviews
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04350.x

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