lemon balm

Lemon Balm Benefits: A Complete Guide

Alex Kinejara
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Native to the Middle East and North Africa, the lemon balm plant is an herb that has a calming effect and sprouts in white nectar-filled flowers every summer. In addition to its delicious lemony scent, lemon balm is scientifically studied for its slew of health benefits and more specifically on the relief of restlessness and nervousness. 

This ancient herb has been used for numerous medicinal purposes—its dried leaves have infused many teas, wines, and liquors. It was even once believed that a sprig of lemon balm could help heal a sword wound.1 

But, you most likely aren’t here to heal from a Shakespearean duel. With that said, lemon balm offers many practical benefits to those looking to relieve restlessness and nervousness.

What Is Lemon Balm?

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an aromatic herb. It belongs in the same family as mint and shares some similar properties.2 It’s a perennial plant that can be harvested several times in the same season, making it a favorite for several uses around the world, including:

  • As a flavoring herb 
  • For medicinal purposes
  • In teas 
  • For oil extraction

You can find lemon balm in the wild or grow it in your garden. It’s also available in a variety of wellness products.

What Can Lemon Balm Do for You?

The reason lemon balm is found in many different products is that it’s widely believed to have several beneficial properties. Some key areas in which lemon balm leaf might offer support include:

  • Mental health 
  • Sleep 
  • Cognitive function
  • Cold sore relief
  • Stomach problems
  • General pain relief

Many of the benefits you might get from adding lemon balm to your health and wellness routine are interconnected: Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety can lead to better sleep and improved cognitive function. A healthier body experiences less pain and discomfort. 

Let’s dive into each of these lemon balm benefits in more detail to see how lemon balm may help to improve your overall health.

Benefit #1: May Help Manage Feelings of Stress and Anxiety

Feeling overwhelmed? Lemon balm may help. Significant research has centered on the use of lemon balm to mitigate feelings of stress and anxiety.

A study conducted in 2021 gathered evidence from a wide range of clinical trials on the effect of lemon balm on feelings of depression and anxiety.3 This study, published in Phytotherapy Research, showed improvement in anxiety and depression scores among those analyzed when lemon balm was used as part of their regimen.

As such, lemon balm may help you ease into a more relaxed state of mind. You can also pair lemon balm with a probiotic supplement, or find one that already did it for you. We blended lemon extract and beneficial bacteria in our Bio-K+® Calming Lemon and Ginger Extra Drinkable Vegan Probiotic for unique health support.

Benefit #2: May Help You Sleep Restfully

You’re lying in bed, staring at the ceiling as the clock next to you ticks and tocks into the night. Before you know it, your alarm is blaring and you fumble out of bed with heavy eyes and an achy body, mourning the sleep you lost.

While one night of poor sleep won’t hurt your health in the long term, many nights of bad sleep habits can lead to:4

  • Poor cognitive ability
  • Changes in mood
  • Increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Decreased sex drive

However, sometimes it can be difficult to get enough sleep. Stress, commitments, medication, and physical discomfort can all disrupt your sleep.Luckily, adding lemon balm in your daily routine may help ease night restlessness, but more studies need to be conducted to know more about its benefits on insomnia.5 

Benefit #3: May Give Your Brain a Healthy Boost

Have you ever had that fuzzy brain fog after a night of poor sleep? Or maybe your restless mind is making it more difficult to concentrate on your list of to-dos.  Wondering how to get rid of brain fog?

Lemon balm has been studied for its support on cognitive functions and relieving brain fog symptoms:6

  • Enhancing your memory
  • Helping ease feelings of stress 
  • Improving focus
  • Increasing levels of alertness

Benefit #4: May Help Fight Off Cold Sores

If you’ve suffered from a painful cold sore, you know how difficult they can be to defeat. The herpes simplex virus is notably resilient against treatment.

However, applying a cream containing lemon balm and echinacea might help to relieve your cold sore symptoms7

When you apply a lemon balm cream to your cold sores, you may find that they:

  • Are less painful
  • Heal more quickly
  • Cause less irritation

Benefit #5: May Settle Stomach Discomfort and Ease Nausea

If you often deal with an uneasy stomach after a large meal, some research suggests that lemon balm may help ease digestive troubles.

A 2019 study noted in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that lemon balm might calm intestinal tract spasms, leading to less GI distress.8

However, it’s important to note that the study may have been dependent on a specific dose of lemon balm and the method in which it was consumed. Further human studies are needed to better understand the exact ways in which lemon balm interacts with your digestive system. Though anecdotal evidence does support the potential of lemon balm’s stomach calming power.

Benefit #6: May Lessen Physical Discomfort

Lemon balm has also been shown to help relieve certain types of physical discomfort. 

One study in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research found that subjects who received 330 mg of lemon balm three times per day for three days at the start of menstruation experienced less painful cramping than those given a placebo.9

There is also anecdotal evidence that lemon balm supplements may help ease other types of pain, including:

  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Stomachaches

The pain relief possibilities might be connected to the anti-inflammatory properties of lemon balm.

How Can You Use Lemon Balm?

Like many natural remedies, lemon balm is available in many forms that are curated for specific uses. The most common lemon balm products available include:

  • Tea
  • Powder
  • Essential oil
  • Whole leaf
  • Cream

An herbal tea can be consumed hot or cold, while lemon balm powder can be sprinkled on foods such as fruits, yogurt, or ice cream. The powder will add a little citrus zest along with the potential health benefits. Gardening enthusiasts can grow their own lemon balm in their medicinal herb patch. You can even plant it in a small pot on your windowsill for easy access year-round. 

Are There Side Effects to Using Lemon Balm?

Lemon balm is considered safe for most people. That being said, there are some potential side effects to using lemon balm, including:2

  • Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritation or allergic reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Painful urination

Some of these side effects can be mitigated by taking a cautious approach when adding lemon balm to your routine. For example, if you plan to use lemon balm topically in an oil or cream form, you should do a small skin test before applying it more liberally. Dab a tiny bit of the lemon balm oil or cream on the inside of your arm and wait 24 hours to determine if you have a negative reaction.

As for internal side effects, it’s advised that you limit consumption of lemon balm tea and powder to no more than 2 grams per day. Begin with less and up the amount as needed once you’re certain your body can tolerate the product.

Lastly, some people should avoid lemon balm. This includes those who:

  • Suffer from glaucoma
  • Use sleep aid medication
  • Take thyroid medication
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you take any other prescription medications, you should always check with a healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your daily routine to prevent unwanted interactions.

Incorporate Lemon Balm with Bio-K+®

Adding a lemon balm tea or supplement to your diet may help to support your overall wellbeing, aiding in stress management, sleep, digestion, and pain relief according to different studies. 

If you’re looking to add the health benefits of lemon balm into your diet, alongside promoting favorable gut microbiota,  Bio-K+® has you covered. Our Extra Drinkable Vegan Probiotic Cyracos, includes lemon balm extract that is scientifically studied for its effects on restlessness and nervousness. 

With Bio-K+®, you help support intestinal and gastrointestinal health. Go the extra mile, with Bio-K+ Extra. 


Sources: 

  1. Bumb, M. (n.d.). Lemon Balm . Hamilton University. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://academics.hamilton.edu/foodforthought/Our_Research_files/lemon_balm.pdf
  2. Lemon Balm. Lemon Balm - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/lemon-balm 
  3. Ghazizadeh J;Sadigh-Eteghad S;Marx W;Fakhari A;Hamedeyazdan S;Torbati M;Taheri-Tarighi S;Araj-Khodaei M;Mirghafourvand M; (n.d.). The effects of Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis L.) on depression and anxiety in clinical trials: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytotherapy research : PTR. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34449930/ 
  4. Sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation - Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-deprivation 
  5. Melissa Officinalis L: A review study with an antioxidant prospective. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27620926/ 
  6. Scholey, A., Gibbs, A., Neale, C., Perry, N., Ossoukhova, A., Bilog, V., Kras, M., Scholz, C., Sass, M., & Buchwald-Werner, S. (2014, October 30). Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. MDPI. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/11/4805/htm 
  7. Nelson EO;Ruiz GG;Kozin AF;Turner TC;Langland EV;Langland JO; (2020, June 29). Resolution of recurrent oro-facial herpes simplex using a topical botanical gel: A case report. The Yale journal of biology and medicine. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32607088/
  8. Aubert, P., Guinobert, I., Blondeau, C., Bardot, V., Ripoche, I., Chalard, P., & Neunlist, M. (2019, July). Basal and spasmolytic effects of a hydroethanolic leaf extract of melissa officinalis l. on intestinal motility: An ex vivo study. Journal of medicinal food. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6653806/ 
  9. Mirabi, P., Namdari, M., Alamolhoda, S. H., & Mojab, F. (2017). The effect of melissa officinalis extract on the severity of primary Dysmenorrhea. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963658/ 

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