Scientific Name/Common Name: Melissa officinalis / Lemon Balm
Part(s) Used: Leaf
Constituents/Active Ingredients: 0.02-0.3% essential oil containing over 70 different components including >60% monoterpenes (ca. 30-40% citronellal; citral a and b (geranial and neral); methyl citronellate; ocimene; citronellol; geraniol; and nerol); and >35% sesquiterpenes (ca. 10% beta-caryophyllene and germacrene D; eugenyl glucoside; and ca. 4% rosmarinic acid. There are also many polyphenols including chlorogenic, ferulic, and caffeic acids, flavonoids, as well as triterpenes and other bitter substances in the leaves.
Overview: Lemon balm is a wonder herb from the mint family with a pleasant lemon-scent, often taken as a tea after a meal for its ability to reduce indigestion and gas. Lemon balm tea was also traditionally used in Europe as a mild sedative and to treat headaches, migraines, nervous tension, and insomnia, as well as to treat colds, fevers, and coughs. Based on research, the German Commission E recognizes lemon balm for treating nervous disturbances of sleep and functional gastrointestinal disorders. In European folk tradition, lemon balm tea was also used as an antispasmodic for treating menstrual cramps and amenorrhea. Lemon balm extract also has antimicrobial properties stemming from its essential oil component and can be used both internally and externally.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in herbal medicine as a sleep aid and to relieve indigestion.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
EMEA 2007. European Medicines Agency. Community Monograph on. London (UK): EMEA Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC), 31 October 2007.
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Melissae folium – Balm. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 329-332.
Cerny A, Shmid K. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study). Fitoterapia 1999;70:221-8.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.