How to Use Lemon Balm For Its Benefits

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My favourite herb ever is Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). It has these compounds that are beneficial to us and here I cover what I’ve discovered in how to use these lemon balm benefits.

lemon balm benefits for anxiety and more
Lemon balm, a perennial herb of the mint family (Lamiaceae)

I like to keep a lemon balm plant growing in the garden or in a pot. I found I could simply pick, rinse and eat a leaf for its benefits. Yes, it’s edible straight from the garden!  Other names for this herb are bee balm and honey balm. The word ‘balm’ itself suggests a healing use.

What is lemon balm good for?

Lemon balm is good for nutrition with its B and C vitamins; its lemony flavour can enhance food and drinks; and studies show its chemical properties appear to soothe frayed nerves, relieve muscle spasms, improve cognitive function, prevent weight gain, and fight against bacterial and viral infection.

Why lemon balm is good for you: Components of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) include ferulic, rosmarinic and caffeic acids that display anti-viral qualities and ALS-L1023 that has shown to inhibit obesity. Antioxidants include quercitrin, galic, rutin, and quercetin (its highest).

Some of the 32 components identified in lemon balm:

Ferulic acid Rosmarinic Acid Caffeic AcidQuercitrin
Vitamin C Vitamin BALS-L1023Galic acid
Oleanolic acidsUrsolic acidsTerpineneRutin
Monoterpenoid aldehydeRhamnocitrinLuteolinQuercetin

A 2016 review listed a whole swag of traditional uses for this herb: sedative/tranquilizing, anti-gas, fever-reducing, antibacterial, spasmolytic, hypotensive, memory-enhancing, menstrual-inducing, and thyroid-related effects; antiviral and antioxidant activities; antifungal, antiparasitic, and antispasmolytic activities; flatulence; asthma; bronchitis; amenorrhea; cardiac failure; arrhythmias; ulcers; and wounds.

lemon balm uses

Studies have noted the following beneficial uses for lemon balm…

  • digestion
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • preventing weight gain
  • menstrual cramps
  • toothache
  • cold sores
  • cognitive function
  • weight loss

This seems like a true gift from nature, where you’re dealing with expectations and commitments of modern society (or not), using lemon balm would be a natural way of supporting your lifestyle.

Lemon balm benefits anxiety symptoms

Though I never considered I was suffering anxiety or stress, my digestive tract signaled otherwise. I can now see how stress and anxiety go hand in hand with digestion problems. After all, our stomach has cells that send messages to the brain and I think many of us realise how our emotions influence physical reactions.

I take lemon balm to help soothe frayed nerves. I think most folk suffer anxiety in today’s society given the increasing number of societal and economic changes.

I find it helps ‘soothe the nerves’ and keeps me in balance. (I always have a plant growing in my garden). I wrote about another herb, sage, which is also good for this.

Sense of calmness

There’s a sense of “calmness” after taking it, according to subjects of a study by Kennedy et al (2002). Eighteen individuals took part in this double-blind, placebo-controlled research.

A further study, Scholey et al in 2014, supported this with similar feelings of “calm”, “secure”, “at ease”, “satisfied”, “comfortable”, “self-confident”, “relaxed”, “content’, “steady” and “pleasant” reported by individuals in the study. These were subjects specifically chosen because they led a stressful life.

Both studies consisted of small sample sizes and so it does need further research to strengthen the findings, but that expressed is what many consumers already claim to know about this herb.

Lemon balm benefits digestive system

Lemon balm displays properties of a mild sedative, spasmolytic (able to relieve spasm of smooth muscle) and an antibacterial agent. I have found it’s the best thing for calming an irritable tummy (and settling nerves).

I first learned of lemon balm’s benefits from an iridologist, who suggested I try lemon balm tea to calm my digestive system. I had trouble finding lemon balm tea in packaged form but I did find a plant and started adding lemon balm leaves to my tea. It really did work! I found that within a short time my crazy gurgling stomach would settle. It was like magic.

How long does it take for lemon balm to work? For me, when I take fresh lemon balm, it works almost instantly. You can make a tea with it, but I find eating one or two leaves straight from the plant works for me.

Lemon balm weight loss support: Prevents Weight gain

Research (Donju et al 2020) indicates the extract ALS-L1023, from the Melissa officinalis, helps prevent weight gain and could be useful in suppressing obesity and insulin resistance in women, especially in women at the premenopausal stage, according to the authors.

Does lemon balm help you lose weight? Lemon balm can help as a support in your solution kit to losing weight. It’s not a “total fix” but rather it supports your efforts in that it helps prevent weight gain. It’s not going to melt those kilos away on its own, in other words.

lemon balm benefits tea

Lemon balm for brain fog

Lemon balm benefits brain function. Because it helps with stress it stands to reason that lemon balm would benefit brain function. The study by Scholey et al 2014 is just one that shows that lemon balm improves cognitive performance.

Lemon Balm side effects

According to Healthline “You shouldn’t take lemon balm for longer than four months at a time without a break”. This relates to taking lemon balm in manufactured capsule form, which could contain residues of other ingredients. You should consider what else you are taking that may interact and contravene the benefits of this herb or potentially cause side effects.

I’ve tried it in a manufactured form (supplement), but for me, fresh is best! (I have some growing in my garden.) The side effects listed for the manufactured form may put you off…

Healthline’s list of potential side effects of lemon balm formula as a supplement includes things like headache, painful urination, increased body temperature, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, and wheezing. I recommend and use lemon balm grown in own garden. I found it worked best.

Note: The content of this article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional or specific medical advice (disclaimer). 

Can you take lemon balm everyday?

Is it safe to eat lemon balm leaf every day? I’ve used lemon balm from my garden for many years without adverse effects. But with anything, always consider what medication you are taking that may interact.

About growing lemon balm

Lemon balm does die off during the cold months. You can try cutting it back so that it shoots again. But I have to admit I have lost and have had to replace the plant a few times. I grow mine in pots to avoid it taking over the rest of the garden. Yes, it is similar to mint like that but not as bad, at least in my experience.

You can pick and use lemon balm to decorate iced drinks or put the leaves in brew tea. It’s a saving on your grocery bill to have herbs like this available. As I mentioned, using lemon balm harvested from your garden should carry minimal risk of side effects. The caveat is where you’ve applied a nasty type of chemical to your plant to control pests or the like (not recommended).

In closing

I find lemon balm is a must-have in my garden. Lemon balm soothes frayed nerves. It’s a little green gem that’s edible. Most times, I simply eat a fresh leaf or two from the plant to ease upsets and help battle the curveballs thrown my way. Like a comfy meditation cushion, it’s a natural way of inviting calm into my world.

The lemon balm benefits on offer help invite calm when things feel a little off-balance – helping deal with what might seem like chaos around you.

FAQs

Info sources

Science Direct: Soltanpour et al 2019 – sleep anxiety and lemon balm.

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