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Lemon balm quick review
Botanical description: a perennial herb from the mint family, also known as balm gentle, balm mint, sweet balm, melissa, bee herb.
Active constituents: citral, citronella, eugenol, flavonoids, triterpenoids, rosmarinic acid, ferulic acid, methyl carnosoate, hydroxycinnamic acid, polyphenols, and tannin.
Health benefits : used to treat children with fever, flu, and colds, to relieve gas, reduce fever, and soothe stomach problems due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Dosage: drink lemon balm tea several times daily for difficulty sleeping, or reducing stomach complaints, flatulence, or bloating.
Side effects : oral lemon balm may cause dizziness or nausea. Topically, it may produce irritation where it is applied.
 

Lemon balm


Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), also known as balm gentle, balm mint, sweet balm, melissa, bee herb, sweet Mary, honey plant, cure-all and dropsy plant, is a perennial herb from the mint family Lamiaceae native to Europe but is now grown all over the world. The plant develops many branches and grows to a height of about two feet. The leaves are 2 to 3 inches long, oval to almost heart shaped, shiny and wrinkled with scalloped edges. The heart shaped, deeply-veined leaves exude a pleasant lemon scent when brushed against or crushed. The leaves are very deeply wrinkled and range from dark green to yellowish green in color, depending on the soil and climate. In the spring and summer, clusters of small, light yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. Lemon balm, often called balm which is an abbreviation of balsam and means sweet smelling oil, is a bee plant. At the end of the summer, little white flowers full of nectar appear. These attracts bees, hence the name "Melissa" (Greek for 'bee'). Lemon balm is grown not only in herb gardens, but also in crops for medicine, cosmetics, and furniture polish manufacturing.
 

Active constituents of lemon balm


Essential oils made from lemon balm leaves contain citral, citronella, eugenol, flavonoids (luteolin-7-O-glucoside, isoquercitrin, apigenin-7-O-glucoside, and rhamnocitrin), triterpenoids, rosmarinic acid, ferulic acid, methyl carnosoate, hydroxycinnamic acid, polyphenols, and tannin (caffeic acid). The terpenes in lemon balm provide relaxing and antiviral effects. The tannins thought to cause many of the herb's antiviral effects. Lemon balm also contains eugenol, which calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues, and kills bacteria. Rosmarinic acid has an inhibitory effect on the complement system involved in inflammatory processes. The antioxidant effect of rosmarinic acid is superior even to that of a vitamin E derivative (alpha-tocopherol acid succinate).
 

Medicinal uses and health benefits of lemon balm


Lemon balm is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, sedative, and thyroid-regulating. Lemon balm is used to treat children with fever, flu, and colds. In adults, it treats colds, headaches, depression, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and nervous stomachs. Lemon balm is a soothing, sedative herb that can relieve tension and lift depression. Lemon balm is used as aromatherapy to calm overexcited individuals suffering from dementia. Ointments containing lemon balm may help heal lip sores associated with herpes simplex virus (HSV) by inhibiting HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. Lemon balm's leaves were found to contain substances that inhibit protein biosynthesis in cancer cells. Caffeic acid and a glycoside isolated from the leaves were responsible for this anti-tumor activity. Lemon balm has the ability to bind to thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). It has been used in the past to treat Grave's disease, an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone. The plant has antihistamine properties and helps with allergies. Lemon balm infusions, taken hot, will induce sweating. Lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep. When applied to cold sores or genital sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, creams or ointments containing lemon balm have speeded healing. Lemon balm also been used to relieve gas, reduce fever, and soothe stomach problems due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
 

Dosage and administration of lemon balm


To make lemon balm tea, pour a cup (8 ounces) of hot water over 2 to 4 grams (about one tablespoon) of crushed lemon balm leaves, steep for 5 to 10 minutes, and strain. And drink several times daily for difficulty sleeping, or reducing stomach complaints, flatulence, or bloating. For cold sores or herpes sores, steep 2 to 4 tablespoon of crushed leaf in 1 cup boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Apply tea with cotton balls to the sores throughout the day. For gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, lemon balm may be combined with peppermint or other herbals that also have GI effects.
 

Side effects, precautions, interactions


Side effects or symptoms of toxicity have been rarely reported with lemon balm use. However, this herb should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Lemon balm should not be taken by individuals with thyroid conditions or glaucoma, as lemon balm may interfere with drugs that treat thyroid conditions. Oral lemon balm may cause dizziness or nausea. Topically, it may produce irritation where it is applied.