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In the summer, I love rubbing the leaves of herbs from our garden under my nose to breathe in the various, pleasant aromas. One of my favorites has always been lemon balm, which releases a nice, fresh lemon scent. While many of us might recognize lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) from herb gardens, most people don’t know of the many therapeutic lemon balm uses for your health.
5 lemon balm benefits
Lemon balm has a variety of active compounds including flavanoids, polyphenols, and more that exert various health benefits, and it also is able to modulate neurotransmitter activity in the nervous system. This herb has been used to treat anxiety, sleeping problems, dementia, and more.
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- Stress, anxiety, and mood. Lemon balm has a mild sedative effect at higher doses, which allows it to be an effective treatment for anxiety. Numerous studies have found lemon balm anxiety relief effects, as well as helping to improve mood and reduce stress.[3-5] It is also useful to take lemon balm for depression relief. For example, 300 mg of a lemon balm extract for 15 days significantly improved anxiety disorders in adults, along with insomnia symptoms.
- Sleep problems. Using lemon balm for insomnia can promote relaxation and help you to get to sleep easier. Children and adults alike can benefit from these effects.[3,6] One study found that menopausal women given lemon balm extract showed significant improvements in sleep quality.
- Dementia. Lemon balm may enhance memory and cognitive function, and may be helpful in addressing a variety of factors associated with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a loss of neurons that produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Lemon balm can enhance the activity of acetylcholine, plausibly helping to fight some memory deficits associated with the disease. Lemon balm is also an antioxidant, so it may be able to protect the brain against oxidative damage and neurodegeneration. The calming effects of lemon balm have also been effective at reducing agitation in dementia patients after therapy with lemon balm essential oil aromatherapy.
- Herpes simplex virus outbreaks. Lemon balm is considered an effective treatment for cold sores and outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus. Creams containing lemon balm extract applied topically help to heal outbreaks faster than placebo.
- Blood sugar, cholesterol, and more. Although studies have not yet been done in humans, preliminary laboratory and animal studies show that lemon balm can help to lower blood sugar and blood lipid levels, suggesting that it may be helpful in treating diabetes, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
How to use lemon balm for anxiety, depression, and other symptoms
Lemon balm is safe to consume and most people report no side effects. Fresh lemon balm leaves may be made into a tea, consumed several times daily. You may also try a supplement with dosage of about 300 to 600 mg daily to help promote sleep and decrease anxiety. For topical application, a cream of a 1% standardized 70:1 lemon balm extract has been effective. Lemon balm essential oil may also be used as aromatherapy.
Share your experience
Do you have any experience with these lemon balm extract benefits? How else do you use lemon balm medicinally? Share your tips in the comments section below.