Herbal remedies are always a positive, as more and more people are looking to treat their ailments without the use of drugs and medication. Lemon balm is one of those remedies, providing multiple benefits for its users. Its benefits range from stress-relief, to improved memory.
What Is Lemon Balm?
When you think of lemon balm, you probably think yellow and citrus. However, this plant actually belongs to the mint family. With its gentle lemon scent, it was given the name lemon balm. It can be found in North Africa, Central Asia, the Mediterranean, and south-central Europe.
It is used both in traditional alternative medicine, as well as the culinary world. It’s not uncommon for lemon balm to flavour ice cream, pesto, candy, and herbal teas. Within medicine, lemon balm is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, liver disorders, and nervous system conditions.
History of Lemon Balm
Due to its benefits, lemon balm has been used for more than 2000 years. It is known as a calming herb, being prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and stress. The Greeks called it ‘melisophyllon,’ which combines the words ‘honeybee’ and ‘leaf.’ The Romans made the same connection, as they called lemon balm ‘apiastrum.’ Once again, this means ‘bee.’
Bees tends to colonize in close proximity to lemon balm. In fact, gardeners in the sixteenth-century used to rub the leaves of this plant onto hives, increasing the production of honey. Today, many gardeners incorporate lemon balm into their garden as it encourages pollination.
In terms of health, lemon balm has been utilized for many years. For instance, during the 17th century, nuns created a lemon balm concoction. It was known as Eau de Me’lisse de Carmes or ‘Carmelite Water.’ It included lemon balm, lemon zest, coriander, nutmeg, and angelica root. It was used for hundreds of years in order to treat nervous disorders.
Today, lemon balm is used for a wide variety of functions, including biochemical functions of the brain. It is used to boost mood, improve memory, reduce pain, and so much more. This all natural (and in some cases organic) supplement is a great addition to any supplement regiment.
How Does It Work?
The positive effects experienced from lemon balm, are produced by organic compounds found within the leaf. The compound known as ‘Rosmarinic acid’ inhibits GABA transaminase (which is an enzyme). This helps to protect the level of GABA in your brain.
Since GABA is responsible for managing over-active nerve cells, it helps reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Due to this reaction, lemon balm is considered an anxiolytic compound. Within the leaves, there’s also natural terpenes and eugenol, which help sooth injured or sore muscles.
In terms of cognition, this herb activates both muscarinic and nicotinic receptors. Since these are responsible for producing acetylcholine, lemon balm creates positive effects on cognition. This helps ensure healthy neural growth and increases communication between neurons. When acetylcholine levels are high, individuals experience heightened concentration and memory.
Benefits of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is most commonly used for stress relief as it is a powerful anxiolytic. This helps to reduce both the mental and physical effects associated with stress. If you have had a stressful day at work or school, lemon balm can help you relax so that you get a good night’s rest. It also helps to reduce the amount and severity of panic attacks.
Due to this effect, many people will take lemon balm before bed. When this herb is taken on a daily basis, users tend to experience improved mental focus. Concentration and focus are heightened without the energizing effects experienced from a substance such as caffeine.
Lemon balm has also been used throughout history for pain relief as well. Users have found relief regarding their wounds, insect bites, headaches, and joint pain. Menstrual pain has also been diminished through the use of lemon balm. Some users even help reduce cold sores through the use of this herb.
In terms of aging, there’s not much we can do to avoid it. However, we can take proper care of ourselves, so that the aging process does not create a number of ailments. Lemon balm is known to prevent age related decay on your organs, skin, and eyesight. Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are also experienced, helping to boost one’s health.
Lemon balm is also thought to relieve chronic conditions such as digestive conditions, fatigue syndrome, heartburn, vomiting, and poor appetite. It also helps relieve allergic reactions, rapid heartbeats, and heart palpitations. Overall, it provides many benefits.
Are There Any Side-Effects?
Individuals use lemon balm for different reasons. Whether you’re taking lemon balm for insomnia or anxiety, it’s safe for daily use. Side-effects are extremely rare, however some users experience light nausea and potential dizziness. These effects are fairly unusual and rare.
This herb creates such relaxing effects, that driving and operating heavy machine are not recommended. You should also never mix lemon balm with anti-histamines, anti-psychotics, muscle relaxers, or anti-anxiety medication. When in combination with these medications, the body is overly sedated, which is not healthy.
If you’re looking to relieve anxiety symptoms, then you can also look into other natural supplements on the market such as L-theanine or Phenibut. Overall, lemon herb is well tolerated, which is the case throughout history.
The typical dose for lemon balm ranges between 300 and 500 mg per day. If you are using lemon balm as an anxiolytic or as a sleeping aid, your dosage may need to be increased. Users tend to experiment with doses, finding what personally works for them. You can also find lemon balm in teas or topical rubs, which are effective for many. If you’re a new user, start with a lower dose and gradually increase.