Lemon balm is a medicinal plant of the species Melissa officinalis, also known as lemon balm, lemongrass or melissa, rich in phenolic and flavonoid compounds with calming, sedative, relaxing, antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, being very used to treat various health problems, especially digestive problems, anxiety and stress.
This medicinal plant can be used in the form of teas, infusions, juices, desserts or in the form of capsules or natural extract, and can be found in health food stores, health food stores, handling pharmacies, markets and some street markets.
Improves sleep quality
Lemon balm has phenolic compounds in its composition, such as rosmarinic acid, which has calming and sedative properties, which can be useful to fight insomnia and improve sleep quality.
In addition, some studies show that taking lemon balm tea twice a day for 15 days improves sleep in people with insomnia and that the combination of lemon balm and valerian can help relieve restlessness and sleep disorders.
Fight anxiety and stress
Lemon balm helps to combat anxiety and stress by having rosmarinic acid in its composition that acts by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as GABA, which contributes to the body’s feeling of relaxation, well-being and tranquility and decrease anxiety symptoms such as agitation and nervousness.
Some studies show that taking a single dose of lemon balm increases calmness and alertness in adults under mental stress, and that taking capsules containing 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times a day reduces symptoms of anxiety.
Lemon balm can also be useful in treating headaches, especially if they occur as a result of stress. Because it contains rosmarinic acid, analgesic, relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties can help to relax muscles, release tension and relax tense blood vessels, which can contribute to the relief of headaches.
Fights intestinal gases
Lemon balm contains citral, an essential oil, with antispasmodic and carminative action, inhibiting the production of substances responsible for increasing the contraction of the intestine, which relieves colic and combats the production of intestinal gases.
Some studies show that treatment with lemon balm extract can improve colic in breastfeeding babies in 1 week.
Relieves PMS symptoms
Because it has phenolic compounds in its composition, such as rosmarinic acid, lemon balm helps to relieve PMS symptoms by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which improves the moodiness, nervousness and anxiety associated with PMS.
Lemon balm for its antispasmodic and analgesic properties also helps to relieve the discomfort of menstrual cramps.
In addition, some studies using the lemon balm capsule show that to reduce PMS symptoms, 1200 mg of lemon balm must be taken in capsule daily.
Combats gastrointestinal problems
Lemon balm can help the treatment of gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, for example, because it contains rosmarinic acid in its composition, in addition to citral, geraniol and beta-karyophylene. , with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic action and elimination of intestinal gases, which helps to relieve the symptoms and discomfort of gastrointestinal problems.
Fights lip herpes
Some studies show that the caffeic, rosmarinic and feluric acids present in lemon balm have action against the herpes labialis virus by inhibiting the virus and preventing it from multiplying, which prevents the spread of the infection, reduces the healing time and contributes to the healing process. rapid effect on typical cold sore symptoms such as itching, tingling, burning, stinging, swelling and redness. For this benefit, a lipstick containing lemon balm extract should be applied to the lips when experiencing the first symptoms.
In addition, these lemon balm acids can also inhibit the multiplication of the genital herpes virus. However, studies in humans that prove this benefit are still needed.
Eliminates fungi and bacteria
Some in vitro laboratory studies show that phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic, caffeic and cumáric acids present in lemon balm are able to eliminate fungi, mainly skin fungi, such as Candida sp. and bacteria like:
Pseudomonas aeruginosa that cause lung infections, ear infections and urinary infections.
Salmonella sp that cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal infections.
Escherichia coli that causes urinary tract infection.
Shigella sonnei that causes intestinal infections.
However, studies in humans that prove these benefits are still needed.
Assists in the treatment of Alzheimer’s
Some studies show that lemon grass phenolic compounds, such as citral, can
inhibit cholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for degrading acetylcholine which is an important brain neurotransmitter for memory. People with Alzheimer’s usually experience a decrease in acetylcholine, which leads to memory loss and decreased learning ability.
In addition, these studies indicate that taking lemon balm orally for 4 months can reduce agitation, improve thinking and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Has antioxidant action
Lemon balm has flavonoids and phenolic compounds in its composition, especially rosmarinic and caffeic acids, which have antioxidant action, fighting free radicals and reducing cell damage. Thus, lemon balm can help prevent diseases associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals such as cardiovascular disease. However, studies in humans are still needed.
How to consume
Lemon balm can be consumed in the form of teas, infusions or even in desserts, being easy to prepare and very tasty.
To make lemon balm tea it is advisable to use only its leaves, both dry and fresh, as it is the part of the plant that contains all the beneficial properties for health.
3 tablespoons of lemon balm leaves
1 cup boiling water
Add the lemon balm leaves to the boiling water, cover and let stand for a few minutes. Then strain and drink 3 to 4 cups of this tea a day.
Lemon balm juice can be prepared with fresh or dried leaves and is a tasty and refreshing option for consuming this medicinal plant and obtaining its benefits.
1 cup of chopped lemon balm coffee
200 mL of water
1 lemon juice
Ice to taste
Honey to sweeten (optional)
Beat all ingredients in a blender, strain and sweeten with honey. Then drink 1 to 2 glasses a day.
Possible side effects
Lemon balm is safe when consumed for a maximum of 4 months by adults and 1 month by babies and children. However, if this medicinal plant is consumed in excessive amounts or for longer than recommended, it can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, decreased heart rate, drowsiness, drop in pressure and wheezing.
Who should not use
So far, no contraindications for lemon balm have been described, however one should avoid consuming this medicinal plant if the person uses sleeping medications, as they can add their sedative effects and cause excessive drowsiness.
Lemon balm can also interfere with the effect of thyroid remedies, and should only be done with the doctor’s guidance in these cases.
In addition, it is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult the obstetrician before consuming the lemon balm.