From Treating Insomnia To Preventing Cancer, Lemon Balm Has Fantastic Health Benefits
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It is also commonly known as balm, balm mint and sweet balm. The lemon balm plant has round heart-shaped leaves that emit a lemon odour when crushed.
The herb has a soothing and a calming effect on the body which has been used to improve mood, cure insomnia and so on . The stems and leaves of the plant are known for their antioxidant activity, total phenolic content and cytotoxic effects .
Lemon balm has been used in herbal medicine since the middle ages to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and heal wounds. Today, it is used as a herb in cooking, teas and to make Melissa essential oil and capsules.
The antiviral properties of lemon balm extract can help treat cold sores caused by the Herpes virus according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research. The study found that the antiviral properties inhibited the spreading of herpes simplex virus type 1 into the healthy cells of the body .
Lemon balm extract in cream form is said to help in faster healing and the symptoms start decreasing when used repeatedly . Even lemon balm essential oil is effective in treating cold sores.
The anti-inflammatory properties of lemon balm can help treat diseases associated with inflammation and pain. The antinociceptive effect of the ethanolic extract from lemon balm leaves and the rosmarinic acid can help combat pain and inflammation .
The efficacy of lemon balm in combination with valerian herb in treating sleep disorders was studied in children less than 12 years who were suffering from restlessness and nervous dyskoimesis . Lemon balm in combination with valerian can also reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders during menopause .
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, lemon balm leaves have the ability to reduce the effects of heart palpitations and anxiety . Lemon balm essential oil when used aromatically can help lower high triglycerides level in the blood.
The antioxidant activity of lemon balm essential oil has a profound effect in lowering high blood sugar levels. According to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, the essential oil could reduce oxidative stress and high blood sugar levels in diabetic patients .
Lemon balm extract exhibited a cytotoxic effect on breast cancer cells even at low concentrations (100 μg/mL) according to a study . Another study found that inhaling lemon balm essential oil could inhibit some of the factors that lead to the proliferation of liver cancer cells .
Chronic neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc., can be combated with the help of lemon balm extract. According to a study, patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who took lemon balm daily for four months improved their cognitive function .
Lemon balm herb also improved cognitive tasks which involved memory, concentration and mathematics in participants as compared to those who didn't ingest the herb .
The intake of 600 mg of lemon balm reduces stress levels and induces a sense of calmness in the body according to a study . Lemon balm contains a compound called rosmarinic acid which lowers the symptoms of anxiety-like excitement and nervousness. Foods containing lemon balm has a positive effect on your mood which reduces stress and anxiety as well .
Also, lemon balm is useful in treating headaches related to stress. The relaxing properties of the herb can help release tension, relax your muscles and open up tight blood vessels which contribute to headaches.
Lemon balm is a carminative herb which means it can alleviate gas and bloating in the stomach. In a study conducted by the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, the effects of a cold dessert containing lemon balm on functional dyspepsia were investigated. Participants were asked to have a sorbet with lemon balm which lessened their symptoms drastically .
Lemon balm, when taken in capsule form, can reduce PMS symptoms. A study was conducted to assess the effect of lemon balm on the intensity of PMS in high school girls. They were given 1,200 mg of lemon balm daily for three months during their menstrual cycle and the result was lessened PMS symptoms .
Lemon balm is not used for long term purpose because it has been shown to cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms . Consuming fresh lemon balm in recipes or drinking lemon balm tea has a much lower side effect. So far, no side effects have been reported if the herb is used topically or orally for up to 30 days.
Lemon balm supplements could cause the following side effects:
Also, lemon balm interacts with certain medications like sedatives, thyroid medicines, glaucoma medicines and medications that affect serotonin and barbiturates. Before ingesting lemon balm, consult a doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, giving to a child under the age of 12 and if you have a surgery .
Lemon balm leaves can be added as a final flavouring to meat and seafood dishes.
For fresh lemon fragrance, you can add the herb in fruit dishes, custards, salads and make herbal tea.
Keep the leaves and stems in big pieces to retain the flavour and store it in paper bags or glass jars to preserve their freshness. They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
The recommended dosage of lemon balm is 1.5 to 4.5 g per day. 600 to 1,600 mg of lemon balm extract should be taken and not more than that. For sleep disorders, 80 mg lemon balm and 160 mg valerian extract should be taken 2 or 3 times per day. For the treatment of cold sores, a 1 per cent extract of lemon balm cream should be applied.
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