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A Look Into Lemon Balm.

“Lemon balm contains within it the virtues of a dozen other plants.”

- St. Hildegard of Bingen, herbalist and nun, 1098 C.E.

 

The herb Lemon Balm dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and originates from Southern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Its alternative name Melissa (balm) comes from the Greek word for ‘honeybee’. A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm has a slightly bitter, lemony scent and flavor, and is known for its effects towards mood, digestion, and immunity. Its use can be found both in Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, with further use recorded during the Middle Ages. [1]

The Persian writer and think Avicenna once referred Lemon Balm as that which “maketh the heart merry and joyful.”

Lemon Balm has been used to sweeten jam and jellies, flavor dishes, create perfumes and cosmetics, and repel insects. [2] It is also an essential ingredient for making Eau de Carmes, otherwise known as Carmelite Water, which was first crafted in the 14th century by Carmelite nuns. Carmelite Water was used for the treatment of headaches and nerve pain, and continues to be sold today in Germany. [3]

Some of the benefits of Lemon Balm include:

 

  • Thyroid Health

Lemon Balm may be useful for regulating an overactive thyroid, including cases of hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease. It appears to block hormone receptors, which prevents TSH from binding to thyroid tissue and antibodies from attaching to the thyroid. [4] It would be best to avoid taking Lemon Balm if you have an underactive thyroid (see Precautions).

  • PMS

For those of you who need a little TLC to help with PMS, then Lemon Balm may be a good choice. A 2015 study found that encapsulated lemon balm helped to reduce symptoms of PMS in high school-aged girls. [5]

  • Anxiety

Lemon Balm attributes its anti-anxiety superpowers to a class of plant chemicals known as Terpenes, which possess sedative properties. In a double blind, placebo-controlled study, 18 volunteers received two separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm was shown to increase mood while significantly increasing calmness and alertness. [6]

  • Sleep

Because of its calming capabilities, lemon balm may also help to relieve insomnia and improve sleep. Studies on Lemon Balm and sleep have used it alongside other herbs, notably Valerian Root. However, it is not known whether or not Lemon Balm or Valerian Root, or a combination of the two, may effectively help with sleep. [7]

  • Mood and Memory

If you need to clear your mind and sharpen your memory, then Lemon Balm may just be Mother Nature’s answer. A human clinical study in 2003 suggests that dried leaf Lemon Balm may have a positive effect on mood and memory. [8]

  • Herpes

Research has shown that the topical use of Lemon Balm as a treatment for herpes helps to relieve symptoms (such as itching and burning), lengthen the intervals between breakouts, and accelerate the healing process. [9] As a bonus, Lemon Balm doesn’t pose a risk of creating a resistance to the herpes virus after application. [10]

  • Immunity

Because it contains the herbal chemical Eugenol and polyphenol Tannins (as well as caffeic and rosmarinic acids), Lemon Balm has a double-whammy effect against viruses and bacteria. It may even help to bring down yeasts like candida that tend to overgrow in our digestive tract. [11]

In mice, Lemon Balm was shown to support immunity by initiating a healthy immune response. [12]

  • Antioxidant/Anti-inflammatory

The combined powers of quercetin, caffeic, rosmarinic and ferulic acids that are present in Lemon Balm can help to reduce inflammation, and protect the body from free radical damage, making them potent antioxidants! [13]

  • Digestion

Not only can Lemon Balm settle a restless mind, it can also calm down an upset stomach! Traditionally, it’s been used to ease occasional discomfort associated with indigestion, gas, and bloating. A 2001 German trial documents the effects of Lemon Balm towards the treatment and relief of symptoms of dyspepsia (it worked significantly better than the placebo!). [14]

 

Lemon Balm can be found as a tea, essential oil, or supplement. It is considered as generally safe for most people, although there are a few exceptions. Those with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Disease) and are taking thyroid medication should avoid Lemon Balm, as it may exacerbate an already-sluggish thyroid. Lemon Balm may also interact with sedatives used for insomnia or anxiety. Finally, if you’re currently taking medication for HIV, Lemon Balm should also be avoided, although it has yet to be shown whether or not it will interact with antiretroviral agents. [15]

From calming the mind to soothing the stomach, Lemon Balm has just a little something for everyone, and is such a beautiful addition to our Anxiety Release blend and soon to be in our 6th Blend for Girls Inc (but more on that soon!) 

 

Sources:
[1] https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/lemon-balm/profile
[2] https://gerson.org/gerpress/6-herbs-that-naturally-repel-mosquitoes-and-fleas/
[3] http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10742:food-using-lemon-balm-in-the-kitchen&catid=74:tasting&Item
[4] http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hyperthyroidism
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26339667
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15272110_
[7] http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2121004
[8] Kennedy DO, Little W, Haskell CF, Scholey AB. Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress. Phytother Res. 2006 Feb;20(2):96-102.
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24817544
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18693101
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20201279
[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080594
[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23528869
[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11505331
[15] http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lemon-balm
 

 

 

 


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