Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial, sweet smelling herbaceous plant is a must have in your herb garden. Its calming effects allows the body to destress, thus reducing anxiety and improving sleep. This relaxant also allows for the release of tension headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, heart palpitations, stomach cramps, IBS, and muscle tension.
It’s a muscle relaxant, mild sedative, febrifuge, antioxidant, antiviral, antibiotic, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, tonic and anti-putrescent. It’s used internally as a tincture or infusion (hot and cold), and externally as a poultice, compress, salve, ointment or lotion.
Lemon balm’s treatments include:
- Nervousness and agitation
- Dyssomnia, or restlessness
- Sleep, when combined with a valerian root tincture
- ADD and ADHD
- Memory and mental function
- Dementia associated agitation, best as a tincture
- Muscle tension
- Tension headaches
- Menstrual cramps and flow
- Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Cold sores, as a salve
- Herpes, as a tincture and salve
- Hair growth for baldness
- Indigestion, gas and bloating
- Colic, best as a tincture
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Loss of appetite, best when combined with peppermint tincture
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Fever and associated aches
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), as a tincture
- Irregular thyroid in Graves’ disease
- Insect bites and stings, as a poultice
- Sores and wounds, as a poultice
Dosage and Use
Tincture 1:1 adult dosage 60 drops per day, children 30 drops per day. (Standard dropperful = 30 drops)
Teas and infusions – no more than two tablespoons per 8oz cup.
Significant results have been shown after four weeks of using lemon balm internally for sleep, anxiety and stomach issues. As a salve, results are seen within a week of use, and days if combined with a tincture taken by mouth.
Lemon balm and peppermint tea is not only relaxing but tastes like heaven, especially when honey is added. It is mild enough to be taken with other herbs. When combining with other sedatives, mix well and ensure that the dosage taken does not exceed 2 droppersful of tincture, no more than twice a day. For children, you can add the tincture to hot water to remove the alcohol and add honey to taste.
Contraindications and Warnings
Lemon balm is mild and safe for children.
If you are on any medication, please speak with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement of any kind.
Do not take with barbiturates for insomnia or anxiety as it may increase their effects. Taking lemon balm along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness. Some sedative medications (CNS depressants) include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
Persons with glaucoma should avoid using the essential oil of Lemon Balm.
Stop using lemon balm two weeks before having surgery.
There has been extensive medical research conducted on this herb, but few double blind studies have been conducted, thus unable to provide in-depth conclusive evidence against modern medicine.
Growing and Harvesting
Originally from south-central Europe and Central Asia, lemon balm is now naturalised globally.
Lemon balm seeds require light and at least 20ºC to germinate. It grows vigorously to a height of 28-59 inches, in clumps and spreads vegetatively and by seeds, and should not be planted where it will spread to other plants.
In temperate zones, the stems die off in winter but shoot up again in spring. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar blossom for honey production.
It is said that you can use lemon balm for psychic and spiritual development, in love charms to attract a partner, and in healing spells for those suffering from mental or nervous disorders.
Lemon Balm is also known as Melissa, Sweet Balm, Balm Mint, Bee Balm, Blue Balm, Cure-all, Dropsy Plant, Common Balm, and Garden Balm.