Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

Common balm; Melissa officinalis; Melissa

Introduction

Lemon balm is an herb in the same family as mint. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. Lemon balm has been used to improve sleep and aid digestion. Lemon balm can also be applied to the skin as a cream or salve. It has been used to help promote healing in skin problems like wounds and sores. Lemon balm can also be used as an oil to ease anxiety. It can be inhaled for aromatherapy. Lemon balm can also be made into a tea.

Dosages

300 milligrams 1 to 2 times daily

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Colic—may reduce daily crying time in breastfed babies when used with fennel and chamomile D1
  • Diabetes—may improve blood glucose and blood fat levels F1, F2
  • Hyperlipidemia—may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels H1
  • Memory—may improve memory in older adults I1
  • Menopause—may improve sleep when used with valerian J1
  • Sleep bruxism —may ease bruxism in children K1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use lemon balm on the skin and to take it orally in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

A. Agitated Behavior in Older Adults

A1. Watson K, Hatcher D, et al. A randomised controlled trial of Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) and Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) essential oils for the treatment of agitated behaviour in older people with and without dementia. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Feb;42:366-373.

B. Anxiety

B1. Savage K, Firth J, et al. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):3-18.

C. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

C1. Anheyer D, Lauche R, et al. Herbal medicines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Feb;30:14-23.

D. Colic

D1. Gordon M, Biagioli E, et al. Dietary modifications for infantile colic. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Oct 10;10:CD011029.

E. Dementia

E1. Burns A, Perry E, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial of Melissa officinalis oil and donepezil for the treatment of agitation in Alzheimer's disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2011;31(2):158-164.

E2. Forrester LT, Maayan N, et al. Aromatherapy for dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(2):CD003150.

F. Diabetes

F1. Asadi A, Shidfar F, et al. Safety and efficacy of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) on ApoA-I, Apo B, lipid ratio and ICAM-1 in type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blinded clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2018;40:83-88.

F2. Asadi A, Shidfar F, et al. Efficacy of Melissa officinalis L. (lemon balm) extract on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2019;33(3):651-659.

G. Heart Palpitations

G1. Alijaniha F, Naseri M, et al. Heart palpitation relief with Melissa officinalis leaf extract: double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial of efficacy and safety. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Apr 22;164:378-384.

H. Hyperlipidemia

H1. Jandaghi P, Noroozi M, et al. Lemon balm: A promising herbal therapy for patients with borderline hyperlipidemia-A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2016;26:136-140.

I. Memory

I1. Taghizadeh M, Maghaminejad F, et al. The effect of tablet containing Boswellia serrata and Melisa officinalis extract on older adults' memory: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2018 Mar - Apr;75:146-150.

J. Menopause

J1. Taavoni S, Nazem Ekbatani N, et al. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013;19(4):193-196.

K. Sleep Bruxism

K1. Tavares-Silva C, Holandino C, et al. Homeopathic medicine of Melissa officinalis combined or not with Phytolacca decandra in the treatment of possible sleep bruxism in children: A crossover randomized triple-blinded controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2019 May;58:152869.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/22/2020

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