Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a herb which belongs to the mint family. It is also known as common balm or balm mint. This herb is characterized by a mild lemon aroma, and it has a significant medicinal importance. Although it has been used for various purposes like gastrointestinal problems, skin problems, viral infections, tumors, thyroid conditions, etc. Its usage in nervous system disorders has been differentially emphasized. Several studies confirm the medicinal properties of lemon balm, and it is widely used alone or in combination with other herbs.
Mental health is something everyone is bothered about. Mental illnesses can potentially hamper productivity and quality of life. This article looks at the effectiveness of lemon balm in tackling various mental problems and maintaining mental wellbeing in a natural way.
Lemon balm contains compounds which have soothing, calming and sedative effects on the nervous system. It has been traditionally used for improvement of mood and cognitive function. Owing to its calming effect, lemon balm has been used for various mental conditions like sleep disorders, anxiety, stress, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hysteria and melancholia.
The following are some of the potential uses of this herb that are related to mental wellbeing:
Lemon balm alleviates anxiety and its symptoms like nervousness and excitability. Research has shown that this herb induces positive effects on various aspects of mood, including reduced levels of anxiety. The anti-anxiety dosage is shown to be 300-600mg, taken thrice a day. Improvement should be noticed with continued use.
People often experience stress in one form or another in their day-to-day life. Lemon balm has a relaxing, anti-stress effect, and can be an effective natural defense against stressors. Studies have shown that lemon balm promotes calmness and eases the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress.
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Lemon balm can be helpful for various sleep disorders like insomnia and dyssomnia. Lemon balm used in combination with other ingredients was found to help improve the quality of sleep. It is advisable to drink a cup of tea brewed with valerian and lemon balm before bedtime for a peaceful night’s sleep. Alternatively, you can take lemon balm orally twice a day and you should start experiencing sleep improvement within a few days.
Studies have shown that lemon balm improves memory and other cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This could be by virtue of various cholinergic and non-cholinergic effects of lemon balm. Scientific studies have suggested that lemon balm stimulates cholinergic receptors in brain, and also suppresses acetylcholinesterase, thereby increases cholinergic function within the nervous system.
Lemon balm essential oil has been utilized in aromatherapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease and unspecified dementia; wherein the lemon balm oil aroma is inhaled or the aromatic oil/lotion is applied over the face and arms and massaged twice daily.
Lemon balm may boost cognitive functions like memory, concentration, mathematical skills, reasoning, logic, etc. Although there is no conclusive evidence that it helps healthy people, if this herb doesn’t improve your mental performance, it sure has many other proven benefits, so you won’t regret trying it!
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition mostly seen in children, who suffer from inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Thanks to its calming and sedative effects, lemon balm is a potential treatment option for this condition. It can bring about enhanced academic performance and social activities among children with ADHD, and may also help in personal and intellectual development.
Some Other Uses
Apart from the above-mentioned conditions, lemon balm has also been effectively used in cases of headaches, spasms, cramps, hysteria, melancholia and rapid heartbeats due to nervousness. It also increases appetite in conditions like anorexia.
Although lemon balm is a safe herb, it is known to cause certain side effects for some consumers, like: nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness and wheezing when taken orally. With skin application, it can cause skin irritation and allergic reaction.
It is advised to consume less than 2 grams of lemon balm per day to be on a safer side and avoid side effects. A word of caution is that it should not be taken for more than 4 months continuously.
Precautions: Doctor consultation may be required prior to its use in case the user is already on certain medications (CNS depressants) like: sedatives, barbiturates, drugs affecting serotonin, etc. Precaution is to be taken in case of pregnancy, breastfeeding, children under age of 12, and before a scheduled surgery.
Lemon balm is a medicinal herb with a positive soothing effect on the nervous system and brain. For herbal lovers and those seeking natural remedies for maintaining their mental health, lemon balm is indeed a wonderful herb with potential for treating a variety of common mental disorders. However, this and similar herbs should not be used to treat any serious mental illness without consulting with a doctor for an appropriate diagnosis and a safe, effective treatment plan.