Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Health benefits and Side effects

Lemon balm belongs to family Lamiaceae is scientifically known as Melissa officinalis is native to EasterMediterraneanan and western Asia. The plant is used from a very long time in many cultures for the treatment of a headache, stomach related problems, neurological and rheumatoid diseases (1).

Lemon balm is a perennial herb measuring from 30 to 80 cm in height and it grows in clumps its propagation is mainly through softwood cutting. The plant requires sunny weather and well aerated sandy soil with rich in organic matter.

Main components of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm plants are rich in essential oil which is the main ingredient The main components of the essential oil are 39% citronellal, 33% citral (citronellol, linalool) and 2% geranial. In addition to this oil contains three terpinene, phenol carbon acid (rosmarinic acid), and flavonglychoside acids in low ratio. Caffeic acid and flavonoids are also present. The highest essential oil is obtained at the beginning of blooming (4).

Health benefits of Lemon balm

Lemon balm is full of essential oil which is used for various medicinal purposes as a tonic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, surgical dressing for wounds, sedative-hypnotic strengthening the memory, and relief of a stress-induced headache (2). Other than this lemon balm is used in cosmetic and perfumery industries.

1. Cure joint pain

Lemon balm contains important essential oil and this oil is antispasmodic in nature. This helps in relieving from muscle pain, joint pains and also helps in curing arthritis (3).

2. Antiviral activity

Lemon balm due to essential oil has antiviral property. The balm is effective against many viral diseases like influenza, myxovirus, herpes simplex  (4).

3. Mood elevator

Lemon balm helps in improvement of mood thus shows psychoneurological activity. Lemon balm helps in reducing stress and anxiety in humans (5). In a study done on 18 healthy volunteers, it was found that lemon balm with a dose of 600 mg helps in elevating the negative mood effects and increase calmness in the body.

4. Healthy stomach

Drinking lemon balm tea helps in keeping the digestive system healthy. Having lemon balm helps in reduction of spasm, flatulent dyspepsia  (that is a pain in upper abdomen, heartburn, nausea, and improper digestion) and is carminative (6).

5. Alzheimer diseases

In a study on humans, it was found that lemon balm with a dose is safe for the patients suffering mild Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, 60 drops per day were given to the patients aged between 65 to 80 years. The results show positive response although further elaborate research yet to be done (8).

6. Relief from anxiety

Sipping lemon balm tea helps in reducing the anxiety and depression level by improving the sleep quality. A study done on 34 patients who are having depression related to burn injury showed that drinking lemon balm tea for 20 days significantly reduces the serum level of antioxidants thus helps in reducing the anxiety level (10).

Side effects of Lemon balm

1. Contain lead in trace

Some studies done on the composition of lemon balm found trace amount of lead. This may be because of the growth of the plant in lead-contaminated soil.

2. Unsafe during pregnancy

Lemon balm is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation period. It is also considered unsafe using during thyroid dysfunction problem (7)

3. Allergy

A person with an allergy and hypersensitivity should not take lemon balm as it may cause more complication to the body (7).

4. Glaucoma

Persons having glaucoma should also not take lemon balm, like lemon balm increase the intraocular pressure, therefore, may results fatal or affect the eye (7).

5. Avoid if you have Thyroid

Persons having thyroid should avoid taking lemon balm. Lemon balm interferes with the thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Studies suggested that Lemon balm may block the TSH bonding thus interfere with the hormone activity (9).

How much Lemon balm should we take?

Lemon balm is consumed in different forms like lemon balm tea and lemon balm extract.

1.Lemon balm tea

In a research, it is recommended that 1.5 to 4.5 gram of lemon balm herb should be taken in a day. This can be taken either in one single cup of tea or more than one cup but the dose should not exceed bet]yond 4.5 g per day.

2. Lemon balm extract

Per day 60 drops of lemon balm extract should be considered safe enough. This data is given on the basis of studies done on Alzheimer patients aged between 65 to 80 years (8).

References

  1. http://zjrms.com/en/articles/1007.html
  2. http://www.academicjournals.org/app/webroot/article/article1380713061_Moradkhani%20et%20al.pdf
  3. https://uncch.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/lemon-balm-melissa-officinalis-l-an-evidence-based-systematic-rev
  4. https://www.ijramr.com/issue/lemon-balm-melissa-officinalis-l-herbal-medicinal-plant-broad-therapeutic-uses-and-cultivation
  5. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000132877.72833.71
  6. https://doi.org/10.1211/002235702332
  7. doi:10.1300/J157v05n04_08
  8. Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, et al Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2003;74:863-866.
  9. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03348190
  10. http://dx.doi.org/10.5812/traumamon.33630

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