Lemon Balm herb health benefit
September 29 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Melissa officinalis (lemon balm herb) is a traditional herbal medicine used widely as a mild sedative and antibacterial agent. Lemon balm herb has also been considered to have memory or cognition-enhancing properties. Extracts of lemon balm have nicotinic receptor binding activity. Some studies indicate lemon balm herb to have antioxidant and antitumor activity.

What's in Lemon Balm herb?
Lemon balm contains several flavonoids including  luteolin and apigenin. Other substances include triterpenes, quadranoside III, salvianic acid A, and rosmarinic acid.

What are its benefits?

Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2013. In Vivo Potential Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Melissa officinalis L. Essential Oil. Lemon balm had been reported in traditional Moroccan medicine to exhibit calming, antispasmodic, and strengthening heart effects. Therefore, this study is aimed at determining the anti-inflammatory activities of M. officinalis L. leaves. The effect of the essential oil of the leaves of this plant was investigated for anti-inflammatory properties by using carrageenan and experimental trauma-induced hind paw edema in rats. The essential oil extracted from leaves by hydrodistillation was characterized by means of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). M. officinalis contained Nerol (30.44%), Citral (27.03%), Isopulegol (22%), Caryophyllene (2.29%), Caryophyllene oxide (1.24%), and Citronella (1.06%). Anti-inflammatory properties of oral administration of essential oil at the doses of 200, 400 mg/kg p.o., respectively, showed significant reduction and inhibition of edema with 61.76% and 70.58%, respectively, (P < 0.001) induced by carrageenan at 6 h when compared with control and standard drug (Indomethacin). On experimental trauma, lemon balm essential oil showed pronounced reduction and inhibition of edema induced by carrageenan at 6 h at 200 and 400 mg/kg with 91.66% and 94.44%, respectively (P < 0.001). We can conclude that the essential oil of M. officinalis L. possesses potential anti-inflammatory activities, supporting the traditional application of this plant in treating various diseases associated with inflammation and pain.

Lemon balm herb and valerian herb supplement combination for relaxation and anxiety reduction
Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress.
Phytother Res. 2006. Kennedy DO, Little W, Haskell CF, Scholey AB. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK.
Lemon balm herb and Valeriana officinalis (valerian) have been used  as mild sedatives, anxiety reduction and hypnotics. Recent research has suggested that both may attenuate laboratory induced stress. As the two herbs are most often sold in combination with each other the current study assessed the anxiety reducing properties of such a combination during laboratory-induced stress. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, balanced cross-over experiment, 24 healthy volunteers received three separate single doses (600 mg, 1200 mg, 1800 mg) of a standardized product containing lemon balm and Valerian extracts, plus a placebo, on separate days separated by a 7 day wash out period. The results showed that the 600 mg dose of the combination reduced ratings of anxiety. However, the highest dose (1800 mg) showed an increase in anxiety that was less marked but which reached significance during one testing session. These results suggest that a combination of lemon balm and valerian root reduce anxiety.

Effects of chronic administration of Melissa officinalis extract on anxiety-like reactivity and on circadian and exploratory activities in mice.
Phytomedicine. 2010.
This study aimed to determine the effects of chronic (15 consecutive days of treatment) administration of Melissa officinalis extract Cyracos by Naturex on anxiety-like reactivity in mice. Cyracos contains significant amounts of rosmarinic acid and the triterpenoids oleanolic acid and ursolic acid, which inhibit gamma-aminobutyric acid transaminase activity and increase GABA levels in the brain. Thus, we evaluated Cyracos use in independent groups of mice with regard to anxiety-like reactivity in an elevated plus maze and an open field task. Cyracos significantly reduced anxiety-like reactivity in the elevated plus maze dose-dependently, but no significant effect was observed in the open field task.

Color cancer
Phytomedicine. 2015. Melissa officinalis extract induces apoptosis and inhibits proliferation in colon cancer cells through formation of reactive oxygen species.

Availability in stores and online
Lemon balm is available as a supplement, lemon balm tea, and is found in combination with other herbs in formulas for sedation. It is difficult to say how lemon balm tea compares to taking a lemon balm supplement.

Lemon Balm plant antioxidant research
Melissa officinalis L. essential oil - lemon balm oil : antitumoral and antioxidant activities.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004.
Melissa officinalis ( lemon balm herb ) is a traditional herbal medicine used widely as a mild sedative, spasmolytic and antibacterial agent. This paper focuses on the analysis of the chemical composition and the biological activities of M. officinalis essential oil obtained under controlled harvesting and drying conditions. An in-vitro cytotoxicity assay using MTT indicated that this oil was very effective against a series of human cancer cell lines (A549, MCF-7, Caco-2, HL-60, K562) and a mouse cell line (B16F10). This oil possessed antioxidant activity, as evidenced by reduction of 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH). These results pointed to the potential use of lemon balm essential oil as an antitumoral agent.

Lemon balm herb for mood and cognitive enhancement
Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties.
Kennedy DO. Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003.
Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) is a herbal medicine that has traditionally been attributed with memory-enhancing properties, but which is currently more widely used as a mild sedative and sleep aid. In a previous study it was demonstrated that a commercial Lemon balm extract led to dose-specific increases in calmness, and dose-dependent decrements in timed memory task performance. However, the extract utilized in that study did not exhibit in vitro cholinergic receptor-binding properties. The current study involved an initial screening of samples of Lemon balm for human acetylcholinesterase inhibition and cholinergic receptor-binding properties. The cognitive and mood effects of single doses of the most cholinergically active dried leaf were then assessed in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced crossover study. Following the in vitro analysis, 20 healthy, young participants received single doses of 600, 1000, and 1600 mg of encapsulated dried leaf, or a matching placebo, at 7-day intervals. Cognitive performance and mood were assessed predose and at 1, 3, and 6 h postdose using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment battery and Bond-Lader visual analog scales, respectively. The most notable cognitive and mood effects were improved memory performance and increased 'calmness' at all postdose time points for the highest (1600 mg) dose. However, while the profile of results was overwhelmingly favorable for the highest dose, decrements in the speed of timed memory task performance and on a rapid visual information-processing task increased with decreasing dose. These results suggest that doses of Lemon balm at or above the maximum employed here can improve cognitive performance and mood and may therefore be a valuable adjunct in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The results also suggest that different preparations derived from the same plant species may exhibit different properties depending on the process used for the sample preparation.

Q. Your website discussed lemon balm capsules as benefiting Alzheimer's disease. But I've read that lemon balm to benefit Alzheimer's patients is the aromatherapy, not the pills.
   A. According to the study, the benefit was obtained with pills, not aromatherapy.

Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis ( lemon balm herb ).
Kennedy DO, Scholey AB. University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002.
Melissa officinalis  (lemon balm ) is a traditional herbal medicine, which enjoys contemporary usage as a mild sedative, spasmolytic and antibacterial agent. It has been suggested, in light of in vitro cholinergic binding properties, that lemon balm extracts may effectively ameliorate the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease. To date, no study has investigated the effects on cognition and mood of administration of lemon balm to healthy humans. The present randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced-crossover study investigated the acute effects on cognition and mood of a standardised extract of M. officinalis. Twenty healthy, young participants received single doses of 300, 600 and 900 mg of lemon balm or a matching placebo at 7-day intervals. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerised test battery and two serial subtraction tasks immediately prior to dosing and at 1, 2.5, 4 and 6 h thereafter. In vitro IC(50) concentrations for the displacement of [3H]-(N)-nicotine and [3H]-(N)-scopolamine from nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in human occipital cortex tissue were also calculated. Results, utilising the cognitive factors previously derived from the CDR battery, included a sustained improvement in Accuracy of Attention following 600 mg of lemon balm and time- and dose-specific reductions in both Secondary Memory and Working Memory factors. Self-rated "calmness," as assessed by Bond-Lader mood scales, was elevated at the earliest time points by the lowest dose, whilst "alertness" was significantly reduced at all time points following the highest dose. Both nicotinic and muscarinic binding were found to be low in comparison to the levels found in previous studies.

Q. Can lemon balm herb be used the same day as kava of 5-HTP? What about with chamomile tea?
   A. I don't see why not. Lemon balm herb is quite gentle. I prefer 5-HTP or kava to be used in the evening. Lemon balm herb can be used together with chamomile herb.

Q. I enjoy drinking lemon balm tea. Is it okay to drink lemon balm tea daily?
   A. Probably, but I prefer taking a few days off each month from the use of a particular herb. I don't suspect lemon balm tea use would cause any problems, I even think lemon balm tea is healthy to drink, I'm just overly cautious and prefer not to use the same herb all the time without taking a break. lemon balm use, lemon balm herb, lemon balm plant.

I have an 18 month old son who suffers terribly from recurring cold sores. I have read that lemon balm can ultimately reduce the outbreak frequency and am just wondering if this natural medicine is appropriate for a child of his age? (as an aside, I will be attempting to increase both his lysine and arginine intake) If you could advise me, I would be forever grateful!! By the way, I love your website.
    Sorry, but I don't have experience in treating children with cold sores of this age with lemon balm or other natural supplements, so I don't know. I searched Medline in Oct, 2008 and could not find any human studies regarding the use of lemon balm for cold sores in adults or children.


Melissa Leaves 490 mg ( Lemon Balm herb ), 100 Caps
Nature's Way
Melissa (Melissa officinalis) is a member of the mint family. It is commonly referred to as Lemon Balm because of its lemon-like flavor and fragrance.

Lemon Balm supplement facts
Amount Per 3 Capsules
Lemon Balm leaf - 1.47 g (1,470 mg)

Recommendation: Take one, two, or three lemon balm capsules daily, preferably with food.