Lemon Balm: The Calming Herb with Profound Health Benefits

Lemon BalmLemon balm is an herb that needs little introduction. Popularly known as the “calming herb”, the nootropic reputation of lemon balm often precedes its other highly reputed health benefits. Other benefits of lemon balm include anti-diabetic effects, maintenance of healthy skin, and lemon balm’s function as a strong yet soothing sedative. 

Despite its name, the lemon balm plant hails from the mint family. Its genus name, Melissa officinalis, contains the Greek word (Melissa) for the honeybee. This is because the plant is known to attract bees. Lemon balm is native to Europe and has been used medicinally to treat poisonous bites from as early as the 14th century. Traditionally, Greek and Roman herbalists toted it as a cure for a wide range of ailments and conditions including hair loss, digestive illnesses, open wounds, and skin infections. It was also used as an insect-repellent in some cultures [1], [4].

Main Functions & Benefits of Lemon Balm

There’s a wide range of benefits this special herb provides, but let’s take a look at lemon balm’s five main healing properties:

1. Lemon Balm as a Nootropic

Nootropics are substances which, when ingested, can enhance the functioning of the cognitive regions of the brain. As a result, they are known to improve concentration, short-term memory, focus, and alertness within a short period of time.
Nootropics also have mood-enhancing properties, which is generally achieved by altering concentrations of neurotransmitters [6].

Lemon balm’s nootropic capabilities are what have earned it its reputation as a calming herb with significant sedative effects. This is attributed to a compound within the herb known as ‘rosmarinic acid,’ which inhibits the production of GABA transaminase (an important enzyme which catalyzes chemical reactions) and consequently prevents a GABA deficiency in the brain.
When consumed, for instance in tea, the most notable nootropic effects of lemon balm are calmness and elation. These effects usually take place within around 10 minutes [3].

A study in Australia showed that lemon balm does indeed alter the state of mind by boosting alertness, inducing a positive mood, and enhancing problem-solving skills and short-term memory [2].

2. Lemon Balm in Skin Care

The cosmetic use of lemon balm dates back as far as the 14th century. Even then, it was known to improve the texture and tone of the skin and was especially effective when it came to the eradication of wrinkles [2].

The topical use of lemon balm essential oil has proved beneficial in a number of ways. Other than the acceleration of the healing process of open wounds, it tightens, smoothens, and stimulates the skin to optimize blood circulation [4].

To date, it is recognized as one of the most powerful antioxidant-rich essential oils available; something that is reflected aptly by its costliness.

Lemon Balm Essential Oil: Great for your skin

Lemon balm essential oil is known for its incredibly invigorating qualities. This can be attributed to its antioxidant-rich constitution that includes the likes of ‘caffeic acid’ and ‘rosmarinic acid.’ Its antioxidant qualities are so strong that a report published in Toxicology and Industrial Health showed that the herb could reduce oxidative stress in people exposed to radioactive conditions! [1]

Studies into the potency of lemon balm have revealed that two of its antioxidants, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid, are able to penetrate the skin all the way into the cutaneous layers when applied topically. This is what makes it able to provide protection from UV rays, especially in radioactive environments [4].

Lemon balm also contains a crucial compound known as eugenol. Eugenol is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s very effective in the treatment of skin conditions such as cold sores and the herpes virus. Other constituents of lemon balm include flavonoids and tannins that enhance its antiviral properties [2], [4].

3. The Anti-diabetic Effects of Lemon Balm

The research that has been conducted into the anti-diabetic effects of lemon balm are preliminary but very promising. In a study where mice were used as the test subjects, it was clear that the antioxidant activity of lemon balm reduced the glucose levels in mice that had type 2 diabetes.

But that’s not all! Over a period of 6 weeks, the mice also showed increased glucose tolerance levels and also an increase in the availability of insulin in their bodies [5].

Despite being far from conclusive, this study proved that lemon balm may have a powerful anti-diabetic effect thanks to its antioxidant-rich constitution.

4. Lemon Balm as a Cure for Insomnia

Lemon balm has been touted as a great cure for insomnia and anxiety for centuries. Its sedative properties are so potent that a sniff of its aroma alone is enough to induce strong feelings of calmness. It is said to enhance the quality of sleep especially in children and menopausal women [2], [3].

The sedative effects of lemon balm are very potent. They can be felt in as few as 10 minutes after ingestion and are said to induce a deep, restful sleep within the first 30 minutes after consumption [3].

5. Lemon Balm in Liver Health

Lemon balm takes on a supportive role when it comes to ensuring the health of the liver. It is known to keep the liver functioning at full capacity especially when it is burdened by unhealthy diets, alcohol and other harmful drugs. In addition to providing support, it also plays a role in the formation of two antioxidants by the liver: superoxide dismutase and glutathione [2].

Lemon Balm herb
Consider giving lemon balm a try if you’re suffering from insomnia or poor liver health

Lemon Balm Dosages

There are a number of ways to consume lemon balm, the most popular of which is infused teas. However, in the treatment of digestive illnesses, anxiety, and sleeplessness, the substance is ingested as a capsule with a recommended dosage of between 300mg and 500mg, taken thrice a day.

In topical form, experts recommend that it should be applied not less than three times a day onto the affected areas to maximize its anti-microbial effects.

Important note: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should restrict their lemon balm intake to trace amounts. Similarly, children should not be given large clinical dosages of lemon balm. People taking thyroxin (thyroid medication) should also stick to infused teas as their main source of lemon balm.

Sources

1. https://www.naturalnews.com/042942_lemon_balm_health_benefits_antioxidants.html
2. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/9-benefits-of-lemon-balm/
3. https://www.purenootropics.net/lemon-balm-an-exercise-in-individuality/
4. https://www.herbhedgerow.co.uk/lemon-balm-uses-in-natural-herbal-skincare/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20487577
6. https://www.nootropicsinfo.com/how-do-nootropics-work/

 

Lemon Balm: The Calming Herb with Profound Health Benefits
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