Lemon Balm

What other names is Lemon Balm known by?

Balm, Bálsamo de Limón, Cure-All, Dropsy Plant, Honey Plant, Melisa, Melissa, Melissa officinalis, Melissae Folium, Mélisse, Mélisse Citronnelle, Mélisse Officinale, Melissenblatt, Monarde, Sweet Balm, Sweet Mary, Toronjil.

What is Lemon Balm?

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine. Lemon balm is used alone or as part of various multi-herb combination products.

Lemon balm is used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic; for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache; and for mental disorders, including hysteria and melancholia.

Many people believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness. Lemon balm is also used for Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid (Graves' disease), swollen airways, rapid heartbeat due to nervousness, high blood pressure, sores, tumors, and insect bites.

Lemon balm is inhaled as aromatherapy for Alzheimer's disease.

Some people apply lemon balm to their skin to treat cold sores (herpes labialis).

In foods and beverages, the extract and oil of lemon balm are used for flavoring.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Anxiety. Some research shows that taking a specific lemon balm product (Cyracos) reduces symptoms in people with anxiety disorders. A product containing lemon balm plus 12 other ingredients has also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness or edginess.
  • Cold sores. Applying a lip balm containing 1% lemon balm extract seems to shorten healing time, prevent infection spread, and reduce symptoms of recurring cold sores.
  • Colic in breast-fed infants. A clinical trial shows that breast-fed infants with colic who are given a specific multi-ingredient product containing fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile (ColiMil) twice daily for a week cry for a shorter period of time than other breast-fed infants with colic.
  • Dementia. Some research shows that taking lemon balm by mouth daily for 4 months seems to reduce agitation and improve symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. In one study, applying a lotion containing lemon balm oils to the face and hands reduced agitation in people with dementia. However, other research found no benefit.
  • Upset stomach (dyspepsia), when a specific combination of lemon balm and peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, clown's mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and milk thistle (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) is used. This combination seems to improve acid reflux (GERD), stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Insomnia. Taking a lemon balm by itself or along with other ingredients might improve the length and quality of sleep in healthy people and in those with insomnia or sleeping disorders.
  • Stress. Some research suggests that taking one 600 mg dose of lemon balm increases calmness and awareness in adults during a stress test. Other research suggests that larger lemon balm doses reduce anxious behavior in children, but not lower doses. Another study suggests that taking a combination product containing valerian and lemon balm might lower anxiety when taken at a lower dose, but might increase anxiety when taken at a higher dose. Other research found that taking a lemon balm product for 4 weeks lowered agitation and edginess in people with anxiety caused by stress.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Mental performance. Early research suggests that taking one 1,600 mg dose of lemon balm improves mental performance.
  • Colitis. Early research suggests that taking a combination of dandelion, St. John's wort, lemon balm, calendula, and fennel for 15 days reduces pain and improves bowel function in people with colitis.
  • Depression. Early research suggests that taking lemon balm with fertilized egg powder does not improve depression symptoms compared to taking fertilized egg powder alone.
  • Restlessness (dyssomnia). Early evidence suggests that 1-2 tablets once or twice daily of a specific combination product providing 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract and 160 mg of valerian root extract (Euvegal forte, Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) might decrease symptoms in children under age 12 whose restlessness is so extreme that it needs medical attention.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early evidence suggests that adding 30 drops of a product containing lemon balm, spearmint and coriander three times daily after meals for 8 weeks to standard treatment reduces stomach pain and discomfort in people with IBS.
  • Mental illnesses that cause physical pain (somatization disorder). A product containing valerian, passionflower, and lemon balm seems to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with mental illnesses that cause physical pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Stomach and intestinal discomfort with bloating and gas.
  • Spasms.
  • A thyroid condition called Graves' disease.
  • Promoting menstrual flow.
  • Female discomforts.
  • Cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Toothache.
  • Sores.
  • Tumors.
  • Insect bites.
  • Nervous stomach.
  • Hysteria.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of lemon balm for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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