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Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  

About

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine. Lemon balm is used alone or as part of various multi-herb combination products.

Lemon balm is taken by mouth for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic It is also used for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache. Lemon balm is also used for mental disorders, including hysteria, melancholia, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Alzheimer's disease.

Many people believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxiety, stress, sleep problems, and restlessness. Lemon balm is also used for an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid (Graves' disease), swollen airways, rapid heartbeat due to nervousness, high blood pressure, cramps, sores, tumors, and insect bites.

Lemon balm is inhaled as aromatherapy for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Some people apply lemon balm to their skin to treat cold sores (herpes labialis) or to improve dementia in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

In foods and beverages, the extract and oil of lemon balm are used for flavoring.

How does it work?

Lemon balm contains chemicals that seem to have a sedative, calming effect. It might also reduce the growth of some viruses and bacteria.

Traditionally used for

Anxiety.
Colic in breast-fed infants.
Dementia.
Upset stomach (dyspepsia).
Herpes simplex virus infections.
Insomnia.
Stress.
Mental performance.
Colitis.
Depression.
Restlessness (dyssomnia).
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Mental illness that causes physical pain (somatization disorder).

Dosage

Adults

By mouth

For anxiety: 300 mg of a standardized lemon balm extract (Cyracos by Naturex SA) taken twice daily for 15 days has been used. Also 0.23 mL/kg body weight of a combination product containing 13 ingredients including lemon balm (Klosterfrau Melissengeist, Klosterfrau) taken three times daily for 8 weeks has been used.

For dementia: 60 drops per day of a standardized lemon balm extract has been used for 4 months.

For upset stomach (dyspepsia): A specific combination product containing lemon balm, peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, clown's mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and milk thistle (Iberogast by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily for 4 weeks. Also, a similar herbal preparation containing lemon balm, clown's mustard, German chamomile flower, peppermint leaves, caraway, and licorice root (STW 5-II by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily for up to 8 weeks.

For insomnia (inability to sleep): 300 mg of a standardized lemon balm extract (Cyracos by Naturex SA) has been used twice daily for 15 days. Also, 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 2-3 times daily for up to 30 days. Also tablets containing 170 mg of valerian root, 50 mg of hops, 50 mg of lemon balm, and 50 mg of motherwort have been used.

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 (Songha Night by Pharmaton Natural Health Products) have been taken before a stress test.

By skin

For cold sores (herpes simplex virus): 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.

By inhalation

For dementia: A lotion containing 10% lemon balm has been massaged into the hands and upper arms for 1-2 minutes twice daily for 4 weeks.

Children

By mouth

For colic: In breast-fed infants, a specific multi-ingredient product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (ColiMil by Milte Italia SPA) has been used twice daily for one week. Also 150 mL of an herbal tea containing German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and lemon balm (Calma-Bebi by Bonomelli) has been taken three times daily for 7 days.

For dyssomnia (poor sleep quality): 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.

Possible Side Effects

Lemon balm is SAFE when used in food amounts. It's SAFE in adults when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in medicinal amounts, short-term. It's been used safely in research for up to 4 months. Not enough is known about the safety of lemon balm when used long-term. When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.

When applied to the skin, lemon balm may cause skin irritation and increased cold sore symptoms.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Infants and children. Lemon balm is SAFE when taken appropriately by mouth for about one month.

Diabetes: Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.

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: Don't use lemon balm. There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy.

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