9 Benefits of Lemon Balm

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on


Lemon balm has earned a reputation for being a potent health-supporting tool. The name ‘lemon balm’ is attributed to its noticeable lemony scent. While the plant’s reputed effect on vigor and longevity have certainly contributed to its popularity, scientific studies have only served to reinforce its reputation. Here are 10 benefits lemon balm users enjoy.

1. Calms the Mind

Lemon balm has been used for centuries as a popular oil in aromatherapy. It is said that the pure, sweet aroma of the oil promotes a feeling of relaxation and calm. Most sweet oils are said to provide the same benefit. Look for a pure lemon balm essential oil if you are thinking about using the herb in your aromatherapy practice. Lemon balm oil is the oil that has been carefully pressed from the flowers of the lemon balm plant.

2. Encourages Restful Sleep

Lemon balm also encourages a more restful sleep, according to some research. Parents of the children in the German study reported their children slept more peacefully throughout the night after supplementation. A placebo-controlled trial found menopausal women suffering with sleep disruptions reported much better sleep after taking a lemon balm/valerian extract compared to those taking the placebo. [1]

3. Makes Skin Look Years Younger

Lemon balm is still frequently featured in many cosmetics for its soothing effect on the skin. The first cosmetic use of lemon balm goes back to the 1300s when the Queen of Hungary used it to erase the years (and reportedly the wrinkles). It’s still recommended for soothing the skin and reducing fine lines.

4. Boosts Alertness

Although lemon balm calms the mind, it certainly doesn’t dull the mind. An Australian study noted improved alertness in participants supplementing with the herb in addition to feelings of calm and an improved, more positive mood. [2]

5. Sharpens Memory and Problem Solving

Studies like the one above have observed improved memory and problem-solving in test subjects regardless of age after taking lemon balm. Young or old, those taking lemon balm show improvements in problem-solving skills and recall.

Though preliminary, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have seen improvements based on several recent studies. In one Chinese study eugenol, a powerful antioxidant found in lemon balm, and acupuncture helped test subjects recover memory-related functions. [3]

Another study noted lemon balm suppresses brain chemical acetylcholinesterase which breaks down the brain-signaling chemical acetylcholine which is responsible for memory and thought. [4] This action helps stimulate and support memory and mood.

6. Powerful Antioxidant

Lemon balm is loaded with antioxidants that keep your cells safe from free radical damage. Studies on eugenol and rosmarinic acid show they support a healthy brain. Other significant antioxidants include ferulic, caffeic acids, and quercetin. [5] Quercetin specifically is known as a powerful compound.

7. Supports the Liver

The liver clears toxins from the body, so keeping it healthy means keeping your entire body healthy. Over time, the process of detoxification can wear down the liver and lead to liver damage. This is especially true if you are eating a diet that is less than ideal. In one trial using animal models, lemon balm proved as effective as a liver drug in protecting the organ from the damaging effects caused by toxins. [6] It also supports the liver’s production of two of the human body’s natural antioxidants: glutathione and superoxide dismutase. [7]

8. Supports Normal Blood Sugar

Many herbs that support antioxidant levels also help balance blood sugar. Although research is limited on lemon balm’s effect on blood sugar, one study has shown that, when taken consistently, it does promote stable blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance. Based on the research so far, lemon balm appears to have a positive influence on blood sugar. [8]

9. Protects Brain Cells

Beyond the positive effect on memory, thinking, and calmness, research suggests lemon balm protects the physical brain from damage. Eugenol neutralizes free radicals before they can attack brain cells. [9] Rosmarinic acid, another key compound in lemon balm, has shown promise in the treatment of stroke victims. Research with animal models shows that given shortly after a stroke, lemon balm appears to protect areas of the brain against damage. [10]

One Final Thought

Lemon balm can be taken as a tea or as a supplement. The most potent comes from its extracted form. Whether you choose to take lemon balm as a tea or in a supplement, make sure to check the quality of your source. For the best effect, it should be organic.

Have you used lemon balm? What do you like best about it? Share your experience with us!

References (10)
  1. Taavoni S1, Nazem Ekbatani N, Haghani H. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Nov;19(4):193-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.07.002.
  2. Scholey A1, Gibbs A2, Neale C3, Perry N4, Ossoukhova A5, Bilog V6, Kras M7, Scholz C8, Sass M9, Buchwald-Werner S10. Anti-stress effects of M. Officinalis-containing foods. Nutrients. 2014 Oct 30;6(11):4805-21. doi: 10.3390/nu6114805.
  3. Liu Z1, Niu W, Yang X, Wang Y. Effects of combined acupuncture and eugenol on learning-memory ability and antioxidation system of hippocampus in Alzheimer disease rats via olfactory system stimulation. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Jun;33(3):399-402.
  4. Obulesu M1, Rao DM. Effect of plant extracts on Alzheimer's disease: An insight into therapeutic avenues. J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2011 Jan;2(1):56-61. doi: 10.4103/0976-3147.80102.
  5. Spiridon I1, Colceru S, Anghel N, Teaca CA, Bodirlau R, Armatu A. Antioxidant capacity and total phenolic contents of oregano (Origanum vulgare), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) from Romania. Nat Prod Res. 2011 Oct;25(17):1657-61. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2010.521502.
  6. Ali Zarei,1 Saeed Changizi Ashtiyani,2,* Soheila Taheri,3 and Fateme Rasekh4. Comparison between effects of different doses of Melissa officinalis and atorvastatin on the activity of liver enzymes in hypercholesterolemia rats. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan-Feb; 4(1): 15?23.
  7. Zeraatpishe A1, Oryan S, Bagheri MH, Pilevarian AA, Malekirad AA, Baeeri M, Abdollahi M. Effects of Melissa officinalis L. on oxidative status and DNA damage in subjects exposed to long-term low-dose ionizing radiation. Toxicol Ind Health. 2011 Apr;27(3):205-12. doi: 10.1177/0748233710383889.
  8. Weidner C1, Wowro SJ, Freiwald A, Kodelja V, Abdel-Aziz H, Kelber O, Sauer S. Lemon balm extract causes potent antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects in insulin-resistant obese mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2014 Apr;58(4):903-7. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300477.
  9. Nagababu E1, Rifkind JM, Boindala S, Nakka L. Assessment of antioxidant activity of eugenol in vitro and in vivo. Methods Mol Biol. 2010;610:165-80. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60327-029-8_10.
  10. Luan H1, Kan Z, Xu Y, Lv C, Jiang W. Rosmarinic acid protects against experimental diabetes with cerebral ischemia: relation to inflammation response. J Neuroinflammation. 2013 Feb 17;10:28. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-10-28.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Aasha Noel

    I use Lemon balm extract mixed with water .. Actually I am talking hyperthyiord medications also.. After I started with lemon balm I feel much better in every way .. I feel more calm and relaxed and active .. I feel this is a great suppliment for hyperthyiord patients .

  • Tracey A Firth

    I was recommended by my oesteopath to take a tea made with lemon balm verbena and cardamom seeds. I mix 3 tbs lemon balm 1 tbs verbena and 6 crushed cardamom seeds. This makes approximately 4 cups 250 ml. I suffer from colon spasms and have been hospitalised several time with severe pain. I drink the tea cold it tastes better refrigerated! I am astonished at how different I feel after 2 weeks. I’ve found drinking a cup before breakfast and another before lunch works best for me. The pain has completely disappeared plus it’s acted as a colon cleanse. I combine this with 2 cups of ginger tea a day made with fresh ginger lemon juice plus ginger juice. No medication has ever worked for me but these simple herbal teas do.

  • Claire Edwards Grover

    We grow lemon balm in our yard. Sidenote… It spreads quickly! We make lemonade out of it and LOVE it. Our favorite thing about lemon balm… it tastes amazing and fresh. 2 large handfuls fresh lemon balm leaves, 1 cup real lemon/lemon juice, 1 cup sugar or sweetener of your choice, 7 cups water/ice mix. Blend together and serve. It’s green, but it tastes amazing! My 9-year old boy loves it.

  • ADB227

    Im taking it for stress and sleep since I have been ultra sensitive and more anxious after entering perimenopause. It doesn’t knock me out, but It does help me relax a little.

  • Jason

    I am having trouble sleeping and anxiety is up. How much did u take?

  • Esme West

    I have used lemon balm tea made from fresh leaves to detox 2 addicts and one alcoholic with beautiful results. The detoxes were beautifully gentle and drug free. In all three cases, due to large doses of strong tea, the affected were able to sleep through most of the painful detox symptoms. I adore this beautiful plant and have a strong energetic connection to it. What a gift from Mother Earth!!!

  • ADB227

    You have to play with the dosage, I recommend tincture.

  • Jean

    How did you do the detox? I’m curious to get off my pain meds that are prescribed. Thank you

  • Esme Eire Donegal

    I was growing it at the time and had a large beautiful plant growing on my deck. I would harvest about a cup of leaves, grind them up with mortar & pestle, scraped them into a medium sized glass bowl and covered with about 10 oz. boiling water. I let the tea steep for about 10 minutes, then strained through a fine mesh screen strainer and served in a cup with a little raw honey. 4-6 cups a day prepared like this.

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