9 Impressive Health Benefits of Lemon Balm

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

A bottle of Lemon balm oil. Sharp memory and problem-solving are benefits of Lemon balm Lemon balm has a reputation as an incredible herb for supporting good health. Its name is attributed to its lemony scent. The plant’s reputed effect on vigor and longevity are attributed to its popularity, and scientific studies have only served to reinforce its reputation. Let’s take a close look at nine impressive health benefits of lemon balm.

Lemon Balm Quick Facts:
Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae
Origin: Europe
Plant Type: Flowering, Perennial
Health Benefits: Restful sleep, relieves discomfort, soothes irritation, supports the body’s natural response to harmful organisms, supports DNA integrity, encourages mental clarity.
Uses: Wound care, stress management, herbal tea, and supplementation.

1. Calms the Mind

Lemon balm has been used for centuries to care for wounds and quell sleeplessness. Some attest that the pure, sweet aroma of the oil promotes a feeling of relaxation. Most sweet oils are said to provide the same benefit.

2. Encourages Restful Sleep

Lemon balm encourages restful sleep, especially for those who have trouble falling asleep. In one study, parents reported their children slept more peacefully throughout the night with lemon balm supplementation. It doesn’t only benefit restless children and their sleep-deprived parents. A placebo-controlled trial found that menopausal women suffering from interrupted sleep reported much better rest after taking a lemon balm and valerian extract.[1]

3. Improves Skin Appearance

The first cosmetic use of lemon balm goes back to the 14th century when the Queen of Hungary reportedly used it to erase years from her face by softening wrinkles. Today, it’s still recommended for boosting the appearance of skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines. Lemon balm also contains volatile components, such as caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and rosmarinic acid, that work together to support the body’s natural response to the harmful organisms that cause lip blemishes.[2]

4. Boosts Alertness

Although lemon balm calms the mind, it certainly doesn’t dull the mind. In the right serving, it does the exact opposite. An Australian study reported improved alertness in participants who took the herb. The reported side effects, if you can call them that, included calm feelings and a positive mood.[3]

5. Sharpens Memory and Problem Solving

Studies like the one above observed improved memory and problem-solving in test subjects, regardless of age, after taking lemon balm. Young or old, those taking lemon balm supplements displayed improvement in problem-solving skills and recall. Though preliminary, some studies have examined lemon balm and its relation to brain health. When combined with acupuncture, eugenol, a powerful antioxidant in lemon balm, helped test subjects recover memory-related functions.[4] Another study showed participants had significant improvements in brain function after 16 weeks of administration of a lemon balm extract containing 500 mcg of citral—a component of lemon balm oil.[5] Another study reported that lemon balm helps stimulate memory and enhance mood. A phytochemical found in lemon balm suppresses the enzymes that break down the neurotransmitter responsible for memory and thought.[5]

6. Powerful Antioxidant

Lemon balm is loaded with antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals. Studies on eugenol and rosmarinic acid show they support healthy brain aging. The list of powerful antioxidants includes ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and quercetin.[6]

7. Supports the Liver

The liver detoxifies dangerous compounds from the body and, over time, can become tired and sluggish, especially if you follow an unhealthy diet. Animal studies have found that lemon balm is effective at protecting the liver from some of the negative effects of an unhealthy diet.[7] Lemon balm also supports the liver’s production of two important antioxidants—glutathione and superoxide dismutase.[8]

8. Supports Normal Blood Sugar

Many herbs that provide antioxidants also promote balanced blood sugar. Although preliminary, research suggests that lemon balm may encourage normal blood sugar levels.[9]

9. Protects Brain Cells

Beyond the positive effects on memory, thinking, and mood, research suggests lemon balm supports brain health. Antioxidants like eugenol detain free radicals before they can attack brain cells.[10] Rosmarinic acid, a key compound in lemon balm, is beneficial in this regard. If the brain doesn’t get enough blood, it can quickly become an emergency that affects brain function. Animal models show that, when provided shortly after such an episode, lemon balm appears to protect the brain.[11]

Tips for Growing Lemon Balm

The many benefits of lemon balm might inspire you to grow your own. Lemon balm prefers well-drained clay or sandy loam and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. It prefers Zones 4a through 9b and grows best in U.S. Zone 7, where you can harvest it until November. Plant seeds indoors during early spring (6-8 weeks before the last frost) or sow seeds on the surface of outside soil after the last frost of spring. You should see the first shoots within 12 to 21 days after sowing. When the leaves are ready to harvest, dry them on screens or hang in bunches to preserve for later use. On average, it takes about ten weeks to go from seeds to full-leaf plants.

Using Lemon Balm

There are several ways to use lemon balm. Many people make lemon balm part of their diet in the form of tea or supplements. Lemon balm essential oil has amazing aromatherapy applications. Regardless of your preferred use, organic lemon balm is always the best choice. Because of its soothing properties, lemon balm is an essential ingredient in many types of popular skin care and beauty products. We’ve included it in Biotrex™, our unique liquid formula for clear, healthy-looking lips. Biotrex harnesses the power of lemon balm and other high-quality, organic ingredients to relieve and moisturize your lips so they can look and feel their best. Do you have a favorite use for lemon balm? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

References (11)
  1. Taavoni, S., 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. "Herbs and Natural Supplements, volume 1, 4th edition: Braun & Cohen." 2014. Print. 12 Jan. 2017.
  3. Scholey, A., Gibbs, A., Neale, C., Perry, N., Ossoukhova, A., Bilog, V., Kras, M., Scholz, C., Sass, M., Buchwald-Werner, S. "Anti-stress effects of M. Officinalis-containing foods." Nutrients. 2014 Oct 30;6(11):4805-21. doi: 10.3390/nu6114805.
  4. Liu, Z., 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.
  5. Obulesu, M., Rao, D.M. "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.
  6. Spiridon, I., Colceru, S., Anghel, N., Teaca, C.A., 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.
  7. Ali, Zarei, Saeed, Changizi Ashtiyani, Soheila, Taheri, and Fateme Rasekh. "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.
  8. Zeraatpishe, A., Oryan, S., Bagheri, M.H., Pilevarian, A.A., Malekirad, A.A., 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.
  9. Weidner, C., Wowro, S.J., 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.
  10. Nagababu, E., Rifkind, J.M., 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.
  11. Luan, H., 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.

  • I have lemon balm in the garden and eat a couple a day! Like you I’m in love with this herb! Relieves anxiety and lifts my mood!! I say my top 5 favourite herbs!

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