Lemon balm is a member of the mint family scientifically known as Melissa officinalis. It originated in Europe in the Middle Ages and was widely used as a calming agent both in its dried form and as an essential oil extract. Today, lemon balm is grown worldwide and lends itself well to home gardens and indoor pots. Bees are highly attracted to lemon balm.1 The lemon balm plant grows to 2 feet tall or more, if it’s unkempt. In spring and summer, lemon balm produces small clusters of light yellow flowers that grow where the leaves meet the stem. These flowers produce a powder that, when rubbed on the fingers, give a tart and sweet smell much like citrus lemons.1 Lemon balm is available as dietary supplements in teas and capsules as well as topical applications in essential oil, creams and ointments.3
Lemon balm health benefits have been known for centuries. Traditional lemon balm uses include being used to treat battle wounds, relieve insect bites and provide aromatic effects during religious ceremonies. Its soothing and uplifting odor has been called “the essence of spring”, and so lemon balm for anxiety is another traditional use of this natural remedy. Today, lemon balm health benefits make it a staple ingredient in many medicines.1 2 3 Experiencing a calming and soothing effect is a primary lemon balm health benefit. There are many lemon balm uses for health and natural treatments including:
Lemon balm side effects include internal reaction like upset stomach, nausea and vomiting as well as abdominal pain, dizziness and wheezing. Topically, some people experience lemon balm side effects such as skin rash and itchiness.4 Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid ingesting lemon balm as ingredients will be passed to children who may have intolerance.4 Lemon balm has a proven treatment for anxiety. It should not be taken in conjunction with sedative and thyroid medications. This may cause lemon balm side effects such as excessive drowsiness or unconsciousness.1 4
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