Lemon balm Tea (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the same family as mint. The herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it’s grown around the world. Lemon balm has traditionally been used to improve mood and cognitive function, but the potential benefits don’t stop there. Read on to learn more about this plant’s possible healing powers.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family and native to south-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, and Central Asia, but now naturalized elsewhere.
It grows to a maximum height of 100 cm (39 in). The leaves have a mild lemon scent. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. It is not to be confused with bee balm (genus Monarda), although the white flowers attract bees, hence the genus Melissa (Greek for “honey bee”).
The leaves are used as a herb, in teas, and also as a flavoring. The plant is used to attract bees for honey production. It is grown as an ornamental plant and for its oil (to use in perfumery). The tea of lemon balm, the essential oil, and the extract is used in traditional and alternative medicine, including aromatherapy. Lemon balm has been cultivated at least since the 16th century. Modern research is being conducted to establish the safety and effects of the plant on humans.
Some of the most notable benefits of lemon balm tea include soothing the digestive tracts, treating sleep disorders, stimulating cognitive disorders, boosting the immune system,the body, breaking fevers, eliminating anxiety, and soothing menstrual symptoms, among others. In terms of side effects, drinking lemon balm tea has rarely been reported to have negative effects, although occasional nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and dizziness can occur. However, the severe toxicity of has never been reported.
What Is Lemon Balm Tea?
This healthy tea is derived from the leaves of the lemon balm plant, scientifically known as Melissa Officinalis,which is a member of the mint family. It is widely available and inexpensive, and can also be grown rather easily in a home garden. Praised for its relaxing and sedative qualities, lemon balm tea has been a part of traditional healing practices for centuries. The wide range of health benefits is largely the result of the active compounds found in lemon balm, including tannins, flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, , eugenol, and other compounds, as well as copper, manganese, zinc and various essential vitamins.
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm Tea
You should drink lemon balm tea if you suffer from anxiety, insomnia, cold, cough, flu, respiratory infection, dementia, fever, painful menstrual cramps, herpes, bloating, flatulence, headaches, high blood pressure, and insect bites.
- Anxiolytic Properties – One of the most popular and common uses of lemon balm tea is for people suffering from anxiety. Excess stress hormones in the body can result in several problems, including higher levels of oxidative stress, the strain on the metabolism, and poor heart health. The calming properties of the and volatile compounds in this tea can have a nervine effect and reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Inflammation – conditions come in many varieties, ranging from arthritis and joint disorders to indigestion, allergic reactions, and headaches. Lemon balm has several proven anti-inflammatory compounds that can quickly reduce or eliminate these conditions when used regularly.
- Gastrointestinal Distress – Soothing the stomach is another popular use of lemon balm tea, so if you regularly suffer from indigestion, excess flatulence, constipation, acid reflux disease, cramping or bloating, having a relaxing cup of this tea every day can optimize your digestion and ensure proper nutrient uptake.
- Immune System – There are and antiseptic properties of this tea that make it an effective weapon against a variety of colds, flu, and infections. Aside from the antioxidant effects, this tea can also help promote the production of white blood cells and eliminate mucus and phlegm, which is where many pathogens like to hide and thrive.
- Menstrual Cramps – This tea is one of the oldest and most trusted remedies for painful menstrual cramps. The sedative and analgesic properties, combined with some anti-spasmodic effects, can soothe the discomfort of painful periods, and also relieve the anxiety or mood fluctuations that often accompany .
- Cognitive Boost – Lemon balm tea can help to improve cognitive function and sharpen memory. Although lemon balm is commonly used as an aromatherapy tool, drinking tea also delivers beneficial antioxidants that can prevent plaque deposition in the neural pathways.
- Herpes – Numerous studies have linked the flavonoids and phenolic compounds in lemon balm tea to a reduction in the herpes simplex virus. Lemon balm can be topically applied, but the immune system boost gained from the tea can also help clear up this sexually transmitted disease.
- Heart Health – The sedative nature of this herbal tea also helps to suppress blood pressure, making it an ideal relaxing brew for people who suffer from . This can help lower the chances of developing atherosclerosis, as well as experiencing heart attacks and strokes. If you are already taking blood pressure medication, be sure to speak to your doctor before adding lemon balm tea to your diet, as there could be negative interactions.
- It may help treat cold sores – You can even apply lemon balm topically at the first sign of a cold sore. Participants in a 1999 study applied either a lemon balm or placebo cream on the affected area four times per day for five days. The researchers found that the participants who used the lemon balm cream experienced fewer symptoms and healed faster than those who didn’t.The researchers also suggested that using lemon balm cream may help prolong the intervals between cold sore outbreaks. Further studies are needed to expand on these findings.
How to use: Apply a lemon balm cream to the affected area several times per day. Be sure to patch test the cream on the inside of your forearm before applying it to the cold sore. If you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours, it should be safe to use.
- It may help relieve indigestion – If you experience frequent abdominal pain and discomfort, lemon balm may have a positive effect on your digestion. A small study from 2010Trusted Source assessed the effects of a cold dessert containing lemon balm on functional dyspepsia. Participants ate a sorbet, with or without the herb, after a meal. Although both types of desserts lessened the symptoms and their intensity, the dessert containing lemon balm intensified this effect. More research is needed.
How to use: Add 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie and enjoy.
- 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’s limitations. Many of the studies looked at lemon balm used in conjunction with other herbs. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of lemon balm when used alone.
- It may help minimize menstrual cramps – There’s also research to suggest that lemon balm can be used to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). A 2015 studyTrusted Source 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.
- 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 thought 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.
- 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.
Additional health Benefits
- Cold sores (herpes labialis). Applying a lotion containing an extract of lemon balm (LomaHerpan by Infectopharm) to cold sores seems to shorten healing time and reduce symptoms if applied at the early stages of infection.
- Stress. Early research shows that taking lemon balm increases calmness, memory, and alertness in adults under mental stress. Taking lemon balm along with other ingredients may also reduce stress.
- Alzheimer disease. Early research suggests that taking lemon balm by mouth for 4 months may reduce agitation and improve thinking and memory in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anxiety. Some research shows that taking lemon balm reduces symptoms in people with anxiety disorders.
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that taking a single dose of lemon balm improves accuracy but slows performance on a timed memory test.
- Diseases that interfere with thinking (dementia). It’s unclear if lemon balm aromatherapy helps reduce agitation in people with dementia.
- Depression. Early research suggests that lemon balm might improve mild depression, but might not be beneficial in moderate depression.
- Complications after childbirth. Early research shows that taking lemon balm after childbirth helps to reduce pain.
- Excessive crying in infants (colic).
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
- Emotional distress caused by extreme focus on a physical symptom (somatic symptom disorder).
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Gas (flatulence).
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Insect repellent.
- Long-term swelling (inflammation) of the airways in the lungs (chronic bronchitis).
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
How Do You Make Lemon Balm Tea?
You can make lemon balm tea at home with this very simple recipe, provided you have fresh or dried lemon balm, water, and some honey or sugar to add sweetness. If you grow lemon balm at home and wish to dry a larger amount for future use, simply cut the stems from the lemon balm plant and gather them in bunches. Tie them at the base and hang them upside down in a cool, dark, and dry place. After 1-2 weeks, the herbs should be fully dried and you can easily separate them from the stems. Place the leaves in a bag and crumble them, separating any stem parts that remain. Store that bag in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use them. If making tea with fresh leaves, you can leave them whole or cut them to release more of the beneficial oils.
Uplifting Lemon Balm Tea Recipe
- 2 tsp fresh lemon balm leaves or
- 1 tsp dried lemon balm leaves
- 2 cups water filtered
- 1 tsp honey or sugar optional
Bring the water up to a boil in a small pot.
Place the lemon balm leaves in a mug and pour boiling water over them.
Allow the tea to steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired strength.
Add sugar or honey, if desired, and then enjoy!
Lemon Balm Tea Recipes
Homemade Lemon Balm Tea
- 1 tablespoon dry lemon balm leaves (or two tablespoons fresh leaves)
- 10 ounces boiling water
- Honey, sugar, agave OPTIONAL
- Add the fresh herbs to a tea strainer or tea ball and place in a standard-sized teacup.
- Bring water to a boil in temperature-controlled kettle or a large pot on the stove.
- Pour the hot water into the teacup and allow the lemon balm leaves to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea strainer and sweeten with honey, sugar, or agave if desired.
Lemon Balm Sun Tea
- Large glass container
- 4 tablespoons dried lemon balm leaves
- 40 ounces cool water
- Fill the glass container with cool water and add the lemon balm leaves.
- Place the container outside in direct sunlight. Leave for 3 to 4 hours to allow the tea to steep.
- Pour directly into teacups and serve with ice cubes for a delightful iced tea.
Apple, Cayenne, and Lemon Balm Tea
Add a little fire to your tea drinking experience with this recipe that features a dash of cayenne pepper to liven things up.
- 1 teaspoon dried lemon balm leaves
- 1 teaspoon Cup & Leaf Apple Spice Tea
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup apple juice or freshly muddled apple
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot on the stove or in a tea kettle.
- Add the cayenne pepper and tea leaves and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the muddled apple to a teacup and pour the tea mixture on top.
- Stir well and enjoy the lemon flavor piqued by the spicy nature of cayenne and sweetened by the mild apple flavor.
Tart and Tasty Lemon Balm Tea
Whether you choose to make lemon balm tea using dried or fresh leaves, you’re sure to enjoy the delightful flavor profile of this beverage. Pair it with your favorite medicinal herbs or sweeten it using a dash of honey or a teaspoon of sugar.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
ADULTS BY MOUTH
- For stress: Many different doses have been studied in scientific research. A single dose of 600 mg of lemon balm extract during a stress test has been used. Also, a single dose of 300 mg of lemon balm extract (Bluenesse by Vital Solutions) has been added to food or drink and used during a mental test. Also, three tablets of a specific product containing 80 mg of lemon balm extract and 120 mg of valerian root extract per tablet (Songhua Night by Pharmaton Natural Health Products) have been taken before a stress test. Also, a specific combination product containing 90 mg of passionflower, 90 mg of valerian root, 50 mg of lemon balm, and 90 mg of butterbur per tablet (Relaxane, Max Zeller Söhne AG) has been taken as one tablet three times daily for 3 days.
APPLIED TO THE SKIN
- For cold sores (herpes labialis): Cream containing 1% lemon balm extract (LomaHerpan by Infectopharm) has been applied 2-4 times daily. It is usually applied at the first sign of symptoms to a few days after the cold sores have healed.
CHILDREN BY MOUTH
- For insomnia: 1-2 tablets of a specific combination product containing 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract and 160 mg of valerian root extract (Euvegal forte, Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) has been taken once or twice daily in children under 12 years old.
Lemon Balm Tea Side Effects
Side effects of drinking this herbal tea are very rare, and research has also been notably limited on the effects of this herb when used for extended periods. First and foremost, if you are allergic to other plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, the use of lemon balm may not be wise, as the allergic reaction can be severe.
- Stomach Upset – Although this is rare, one of the most common side effects of drinking lemon balm tea is stomach upset, nausea, and possibly vomiting. This is often experienced by people who consume an excessive amount; the potent active compounds are very beneficial, but only in moderation.
- Dizziness – Some people have reported dizziness or excessive drowsiness when consuming very strong lemon balm tea. Discontinue the use of the tea immediately if you experience these side effects.
- Surgery – Due to the sedative nature of lemon balm tea, it should not be drunk before undergoing surgery, as it can interact negatively with the anesthesia.
- Pregnancy – There is no firm research on the use of this tea during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended for pregnant women. There isn’t enough reliable information to know if the lemon balm is safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Children – Although most herbal teas are recommended only for adults, lemon balm tea has been approved for use in children in small doses, and for limited times. Lemon balm is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken appropriately by mouth for about one month.
- Surgery – Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Thyroid disease – There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Avoid lemon balm if you have thyroid disease.
Lemon balm may cause sedation.13 This is especially true if it’s used along with alcohol, over-the-counter sleep medications, or prescription sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Donnatol (phenobarbital), and Ambien (zolpidem).
Lemon balm may interact with other drugs, including:
- Thyroid medications like Synthroid (levothyroxine)14
- Blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Glaucoma medications like Travatan (travoprost)15
- Chemotherapy drugs like tamoxifen and Camptosar (irinotecan)
In some cases, the drug doses may need to be separated by several hours to avoid interactions. In others, a dose reduction or change of medication may be needed.
Dosage and Preparation of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm supplements are available in capsule, tablet, powder, and tincture forms. Because there are so many different formulations, there are no set doses or standard courses of treatments.
Oral capsules and tablets range in dose from 250 milligrams (mg) to 500 mg and are considered safe within this range. The dose of a tincture can vary by the concentration (strength) of the formulation. As a general rule of thumb, never take more than the recommended dosage on the product label.
Cold sore preparations containing 1% lemon balm can be applied to cold sores three to four times per day. They are said to work best when applied at the first sign of a cold sore.
Lemon balm essential oil is intended for external use only. Even food-grade essential oils used for flavoring candies and other foods should not be taken by mouth.
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