Lemon Balm. The herb of many talents. This is one of the few herbs known as a veritable ‘medicine chest’. It’s actions are many. It’s mild, yet potent, acting almost like an herbal blend all by itself. However, in a herbal blend it has a reputation of being a powerful potentiator for the other herbs. Lemon Balm is definitely a “must have” herb for every apothecary.
COMMON NAME: Lemon Balm, Sweet Balm, Honey Balm, Bee Balm, Balm
LATIN NAME: Melissa officinalis
FAMILY: Lamiaceae (Mint)
PLANT PARTS USED: Leaf, Essential Oil
ENERGETICS: Warming (Ayurveda) or Cooling (TCM & Western Herbalism); Moistening TASTE: Sour, “Lemon-y”, Aromatic
ACTIONS: Anti-depressant, Anti-spasmodic, Anti-viral, Carminative, Cholegogue, Diaphoretic, Emmenogogue (mild), Hepatic, Hypnotic, , Memory/Cognition Enhancer, Nervine, Sedative, Spasmolytic, Trophorestorative, Beneficial cardiovascular effects: Antiarrhythmogenic, Hypotensive, Infarct Size-Reducing, Negative Chronotropic & Dromotropic, Sedative Stimulation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthesis, Styptic, Vasorelaxant, Vulnerary
Internal Use – Anxiety, Cold, Colic, Depression, Digestion (poor), Excitability, Fever, Flu, Gas/bloating, Graves Disease, Headache, Heart Palpitations, Herpes Viruses, Hyperactivity, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, Memory and Cognition Booster (in low to moderate doses only), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Insomnia, Delayed Menstruation, Nausea, Restlessness, Stomach Cramps, Teething, Urinary Infections, Viral Infection
Topical Use – Apply the leaves to skin diseases and wounds, including chicken pox eruptions, psoriasis, eczema and venomous stings.
ABOUT: Lemon Balm is a herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family. When it flowers it is an attractant for bees, hence the name “bee balm”. Originally, it comes from Greece and was spread by the Romans in their travels. It is most commonly considered a native of Europe, central Asia, and Iran.
Clinical trials have revealed some of the positive effects of Lemon Balm due to its ability to stimulate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine receptors. This affects mood, memory, sleep and cognition. It also stimulates GABA A receptors which have significant physiological and therapeutic implications due to Lemon balm’s ability to inhibit certain responses in the Central Nervous System and throughout the body. GABA’s ability to attach to these receptors plays a significant role in modulating anxiety, fear and stress.
Lemon Balm has traditionally been known to relieve heart palpitations, this has also been demonstrated clinically in humans. It appears that its polyphenols have antioxidant properties and the ability to scavenge free radicals. It ameliorates oxidative stress, has anti-inflammatory effects, activates M2 and antagonism of β1 receptors in the heart, is able to block voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels, stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthesis, prevents fibrotic changes, and more.1
There are herbalists who assert that Lemon Balm has the ability to normalize thyroid hormones. Scientific studies generally look at Lemon Balm’s ability to normalize hyperthyroid conditions such as Grave’s Disease but do not generally consider its balancing properties for the underactive thyroid.
Oral = Tincture 2-6 dropperfuls 3x per day
Infusion (dried or fresh)= 2-3 TSPS herb per Cup 2-3 times per day
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Using Lemon Balm as a whole herb carries no significant contraindications. However, as is it a known potentiator when used with herbs it would be wise to use it apart from pharmaceuticals as well. Additionally, its sedative properties should be considered when driving or operating heavy machinery – especially at the higher dosages. It is considered safe when used in moderation during pregnancy.
FOOD ENHANCEMENT: Beverages, add a few leaves to salad, soups, sauces, marinades, etc.
Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S