Who doesn’t love a glass of chilled lemon juice on a sunny afternoon? A few sips of this elixir and you will feel revitalized and recharged! Lemon finds its way in myriad uses within the house. People resort to various herbs for their numerous benefits. However, one exceptional herb, Lemon balm, scientifically described as Melissa officinalis, offers many benefits and has numerous uses. Would you like to know what they are? Do read!
Nuances Of Lemon Balm:
Lemon balm is a part of the mint family. The plant to for attracting bees. It does not grow very tall and has small yellow flowers that bloom in spring and summer months. The leaves can be yellowish green to dark green, depending on the soil type and climate. Rubbing these leaves on hands exudes a tart and sweet aroma.
Storing And Using Lemon Balm:
Ideally, lemon balm leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Dried leaves of the plant can also be preserved in airtight containers.
In the market, you can find Lemon balm leaves in various forms. Dried leaves can be purchased in jars. You can also purchase Lemon balm tea, capsule, and essential oil.
The good thing about lemon balm is that nearly all of its parts can be used for healing various conditions and ailments in humans. The leaves, stems, and flowers are all beneficial. Even in the ancient Roman civilization, it was used for medical treatments.
Top health benefits of lemon balm:
1. Effective In Treating Cold Sores:
Lemon balm has proven antiviral properties. A number of studies have indicated that the herb can be used to heal cold sores that are caused by Herpes. (1) Using lemon balm based cream on sores brings positive results. This cream also helps in coping with oral and genital herpes, the latter caused by HSV-2. The lemon balm that has 1% lemon extract can considerably bring down the healing time. (2)
2. Helps In Coping With Dementia And Related Ailments:
Researches have shown that using lemon balm can be helpful in treating dementia and memory loss related ailments. A study carried out by the Northumbria University researchers in 2003 found out that candidates who took lemon balm to achieve better marks in memory tests. It is also said to reduce agitation caused by Alzheimer’s disease in those who use the balm.
3. Helps Cope With Insomnia And Anxiety:
Owing to growing stress and incessant multi-tasking that people are subjected to nowadays, sleeping problems and anxiety have become common. A number of studies indicate that using lemon balm can be useful for coping with these two problems.
When the herb is used in conjunction with other herbs like chamomile and valerian, the effect is better. (3) A clinical trial carried out by the University of Michigan researchers found the herb to be effective in treating insomnia. The nice thing is its sedative effect, which does not get intensified by drinking.
4. Acts As An Antioxidant:
Unknowingly you get exposed to harmful free radicals every day. These can be damaging for your health. To battle the effects of free radicals, you need antioxidants. It contains oodles of antioxidants.
5. Counters Damages Caused By Radiation Exposure:
For treating cancer and some other disorders, exposure to radiation becomes necessary. However, people subjected to radiation exposure have to cope with several side effects afterward. Studies have indicated that using lemon balm can reduce the impact of exposure to radiation. One case study revealed that people who used it suffered less from plasma DNA damage.
6. Improves Digestive Health And Battles Gastrointestinal Disorders:
Drinking lemon balm tea and its infusion can help improve the condition of your digestive health. (4) It has been used since ages to heal gastrointestinal distress, including various stomach problems and indigestion. The herb is also useful in alleviating symptoms of bloating. The essential oils present in the herb help soothe the gastrointestinal tract. This herb is also combined with peppermint and other herbs to effectively treat dyspepsia, which, in layman terms, is nothing but heartburn! (5)
It is also used in the preparation of a commercial drug called Iberogast, which is used extensively to treat acute gastrointestinal conditions such as flatulence, colic and an upset stomach.
7. Helps Alleviate Muscle Pain, Aches:
Lemon balm can be effective in reducing the muscle pain and aches that accompany flu. Its antispasmodic action helps reduce muscular spasms. Using Lemon balm leads to sweating when you have a fever, which brings some relief. With sweat, toxins in the body also get discarded. One of its components, eugenol, helps in pain reduction.
8. Boosts Immunity Levels:
Using lemon balm can boost your immunity levels. It has components like caffeic and rosmarinic acids, and these have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It effectively thwarts the onset of infection in healthy cells.
9. Works Wonders For Skin Health:
Lemon balm is useful for keeping the skin in top condition, both for women and men. Ideal to treat skin inflammation. It has strong natural astringents, and hence, using the herb can benefit those with oily and acne prone skin. It helps in cleansing clogged skin pores, which actually pave the way to acne and skin rashes.
10. Treats Mouth Infection:
To treat instances of oral infections and results like bleeding gums and bad breath, you can resort to using lemon balm. Mixing a few drops of Lemon balm essential oil to a mouthwash and then use it to gargle will kill the bacteria and freshen up the insides of your mouth.
11. It Helps Tensed Nerves Relax:
You may get tensed owing to a number of reasons, personal and professional. The mild sedative nature of lemon balm can be your solution. Using lemon balm tincture or infusion in such times works wonders. You may use it to release tension after returning from work.
12. Several Uses Of Lemon Balm:
While lemon balm has several healing properties, its usage is not restricted to the medical field as such. On the contrary, the herb is also used in various households for a number of purposes.
Below listed are the top non-medical uses of lemon balm:
13. Diverse Culinary Uses:
Fresh leaves of lemon balm can be used for culinary purposes. While it is possible to keep leaves frozen and use them later, this robs the leaves of their fresh aroma to an extent. So, using fresh leaves is better.
A lot of salads can be adorned with fresh leaves of the herb and it will enhance the flavor greatly. Similarly, it can be used with mint in various dishes. The herb also goes very well with black pepper, another widely used spice and also with thyme, parsley and chervil. It would be a good idea to mix it with fruit juice and sorbets.
14. Serves As A Beneficial Herbal Tea:
You must have heard about the benefits of herbal tea. Lemon balm can be used to make a tangy herbal tea that refreshes the taste buds and offers several benefits for health. Made with a spoon of honey, it gives a refreshing feeling. It will also help in elevating your mood after a tiring day.
15. Keeps Nasty Pests And Bugs At Bay:
A majority of people resort to OTC anti-insect spray and repellent products to eradicate insects from households. However, most such insect repellents contain strong chemicals and allergens that can be problematic for users, especially those with allergies and respiratory issues.
You may try using the lemon balm to drive away from various insects from the home. You may also spray lemon balm tincture in the garden and on the indoor plants. It contains a good amount of citronella, which repels insects effectively. You will be able to keep your home free of insects and save money in the process too.
- Can Be Used As Natural Room Freshener:
You can use the lemon balm to as a natural room freshener. The dried leaves can be used as potpourri. The mixture of fresh lemon balm leaves lightly boiled in water can be sprayed in rooms to spread light mint-type aroma.
- Adorning The Garden And Pollinating Trees:
No matter how big or small a garden you have, using Lemon balms to adorn it will be helpful. The sweet aroma will keep the garden fragrant, more so when the flowers bloom. It also attracts bees, and hence, having the plant in the garden can in a way help pollinate others trees.
16. It may boost cognitive function
The same 2014 study also looked at the effects of lemon balm in improving cognitive function.
Participants were asked to do cognitive tasks involving memory, mathematics, and concentration. The results of these computerized tasks suggest that participants who ingested lemon balm performed better than those who didn’t.
Although these participants did experience an increase in levels of alertness and performance, it’s still possible for fatigue to set in over time. Combining lemon balm with food also affects its absorption rate, which may have had an impact on its efficacy. Additional research is needed.
How to use: Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times a day.
17. It can help treat nausea
Given its potential impact on your digestive system, lemon balm may also help relieve feelings of nausea.
A 2005 review assessing the results of several studies on lemon balm found the herb to be useful in treating gastrointestinal symptoms such as this. Although this is a promising development, it’s important to recognize the study limitations.
Many of the studies looked at lemon balm used in conjunction with other herbs. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of it when used alone.
How to use: Drink a cup of lemon balm tea at the first sign of nausea. You can find loose-leaf or bagged options at your local grocery store or online.
18. It may help minimize menstrual cramps
There’s also research to suggest that balm can be used to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
A 2015 study researched the effect of lemon balm in reducing the intensity of cramps in 100 high school girls. The girls took either a lemon balm essence or a placebo for three consecutive menstrual cycles. The intensity of PMS symptoms was analyzed before and one, two, and three months after the trial. The group who took the lemon balm reported a significant reduction in symptoms. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.
How to use: Take 1200 mg of lemon balm daily for optimal results. This will allow the herb to get into your system long before it’s time for PMS symptoms to appear. Continued use is thought to reduce your symptoms over time.
19. It may help ease headache pain
Lemon balm may also be useful in treating headaches, especially if they’re happening as a result of stress. Its relaxing properties can help you to unwind, release tension, and relax your muscles. It’s also though that ingesting the herb can help to open up and relax tight blood vessels, which can contribute to headaches.
How to use: If you experience recurrent headaches, you may find it beneficial take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm up to three times per day. This will allow the herb to get into your system well before a headache develops. You can take a higher dose if you feel a headache developing.
20. It may help lessen toothache pain
Lemon balm’s pain-relieving properties may make it an ideal choice for relieving toothache pain. In addition to drawing on its relaxing properties, this home remedy is thought to target inflammation in the body. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
How to use: Use a cotton swab to apply lemon balm oil to the affected area as needed. Be sure to select an oil that has already been diluted by a carrier oil, such as jojoba. If you purchase pure lemon balm oil, you should dilute it. Essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin until they are diluted in a carrier oil.
Side effects and risks
It has the potential to cause the following side effects:
- a headache
- painful urination
- increased body temperature
- stomach pain
- skin irritation
- allergic reaction
You may be able to minimize side effects, such as stomach upset, by ingesting lemon balm alongside food. You can also reduce your risk for side effects by consuming fewer than 2 grams of lemon balm per day.
Lemon balm should only be used for a short period of time. A general rule of thumb is to take one week off after every three weeks of use. You shouldn’t take it for longer than four months at a time without a break.
You should talk to your doctor before use if you’re taking:
- glaucoma medications
- thyroid medications
- drugs that affect serotonin
You should also talk to your doctor before use if:
- you’re pregnant
- you’re breastfeeding
- you want to administer lemon balm to an infant or child under the age of 12
- you have a scheduled surgery
The bottom line
Lemon balm can’t replace any doctor-approved treatment plan that you’re currently following, but it may be an effective complementary treatment. Talk to your doctor about your individual case and the potential benefits and risks involved.
If you’re growing your own lemon balm or using dried leaves for tea, there is little risk. But if you’re taking capsules, powder, or other commercially prepared supplements or herbs choose a reputable company. Herbs and supplements are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration and there may be issues with purity, quality, or safety.
If you begin using it, you may find it beneficial to keep a journal about your experience. You should make a note of any improvements you notice or side effects. It may also be helpful to keep track of what time you take lemon balm, the amount taken, and the way you ingest it.