Lemon balm should occupy a permanent place in your home medicine cabinets, herbariums, and in the kitchen. We use it for cooking, brewing, and in the form of essential oil.
It has been used since the Middle Ages as sleep and wound healing agent, relieving anxiety, and promoting longevity.
What properties does the famous lemon balm have?
- Helps to relax
We often reach for lemon balm when we have trouble sleeping or feel anxious. However – although it may cause drowsiness – it does not work like classic sedatives. It is also used as a herbal remedy for some menopause symptoms, ex. hot flashes.
It helps to cope with hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and concentration problems in early school-age children. Studies involving young adults showed that it can improve mood and / or cognition. Interestingly, research also reveals that lemon balm has the potential to enhance problem-solving skills, mathematical skills, concentration, and alertness.
- Relieves Pain
According to a 2015 study, lemon balm capsules successfully reduced PMS symptoms in high school girls. A small amount of lemon balm oil applied to an aching tooth should also bring relief. When the head hurts, it is worth applying a few drops to the temples and neck or to pour them into the diffuser.
- Has anti-inflammatory effect
According to some studies, lemon balm may have a potential effect on a specific type of cancer – glioblastoma multiforme. It usually starts in the brain. Problems with effective treatment are still one of the most important issues of oncology.
A 2014 study showed that lemon balm oil induced programmed cancer cell death and stopped expression of multi-drug resistance protein (MRP1). It is partly responsible for the development of drug-resistant cancers, ex. chemotherapy.
Other studies have shown that lemon balm products also cause programmed death to other cancer cell lines, including breast, colon, liver, and two different types of leukemia cells.
One study dealing with the effects of lemon balm antioxidants on oxidative stress has shown that they have a positive effect on the level of other antioxidant cells in the blood. It has also been observed that lemon balm can naturally regulate superoxide dismutase. This enzyme can cause many types of cell damage.
It is not the end. According to some studies, lemon balm may protect against some neurodegenerative disorders caused by excessive exposure to manganese.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects help prevent the development of chronic diseases and pain.
- Has antibacterial effect …
There is evidence that lemon balm products (including kombucha) have anti-bacterial properties, especially effective for candidiasis. This yeast infection is very common and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakening of immunity, digestive problems, and mental fog.
- … and antiviral
Although, the herpes virus cannot be permanently eliminated (once it appears); you can reduce the frequency of its appearance and its duration.
It turns out that lemon balm products applied directly to the skin can help. The use of cream or ointment with lemon balm and lemon balm oil can lengthen the intervals between the appearance of herpes, reduce healing time, and relieve itching and burning. Additionally, it doesn’t seem that virus resistance to this method has developed. The action of lemon balm is probably due to the presence of polyphenols and tannins.
- Supports digestion
Antioxidants also have a beneficial effect on the digestive system. There is evidence that lemon balm, peppermint, and angelica root can help cope with constipation. In addition, lemon balm can help fight abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort after eating. This may be due in part to the calming effect on the nervous system.
- Protects the heart and liver
Research suggests that lemon balm oil can lower triglyceride levels and improve liver cholesterol synthesis, which also has a good effect on the heart condition. It has also been observed that inhalation of lemon balm oil reduces some factors that can lead to the continuous growth of liver cancer cells. Lemon balm can also protect the heart muscle against damage. Oral extract administered to animals reduced heart rate and lowered blood pressure.
In Iran, lemon balm is used for heart palpitations. It seems to have a positive effect on the mechanics and electrical impulses of the heart, which helps regulate its arrhythmias. This effect also seems to be confirmed by science.
Some studies also reveal that lemon balm helps cope with tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, without causing side effects. In the study, whose participants received lemon balm leaf extract, patients seemed to experience a marked decrease in mild episodes of palpitations. It is believed that this has to do with the ability to improve mood.
- Helps regulate the thyroid gland
Lemon balm extract is sometimes used as a natural remedy for hyperthyroidism. Research suggests that it inhibits the binding of components that over-stimulate the thyroid gland, especially in patients with Graves’ disease.
You can buy lemon balm in almost every health food store and pharmacies. Most often it occurs in the form of dried leaves, essential oil, or extract.
Thanks to its scent, it is perfect as an aromatic addition in the kitchen – for salads, cocktails, or main dishes. The oil will enrich your cosmetics and help keep mosquitoes away. Fresh leaves will do that too. The aroma of lemon balm will also help soothe your nervous system and relax muscles.
Brew lemon balm leaves for about 15 minutes in very hot water. After this time, remove them and add (optional) for example honey.
If you buy ready-made preparations, ointments, and supplements, you should choose products of the highest quality from reliable producers.
Side effects and precautions
Lemon balm is safe for most people and has no side effects. However, it affects the thyroid, which is why people taking medications or suffering from advanced hypothyroidism should not take it. Some report mild side effects, including nausea and abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, skin, and allergic reactions.