Lemon balm is a distinctive perennial plant that is part of the mint family, but with a pleasant lemon fragrance. It has long been used for folk medicinal purposes.
Fresh leaves can be used to flavour salads and sauces. Lemon grass leaves are collected at the beginning of flowering.
Lemon balm is known both as a spice and as a medicinal plant, native to southern Europe, the eastern part of the Mediterranean, with a soft stem, 40-80 cm tall, belonging to the Lamiaceae family. Its stems are branched, and its leaves are cross-opposite, with jagged edges and a pleasant fragrance. It is a cultivated plant but also occurs wild in places.
The leaves are stripped from the stem, and collected at the beginning of flowering, in May-June. For the flowers, we collect them when they are in full bloom, from the beginning of July to the middle of August. Medicinal plants are leafy, flowering shoots above the ground or the leaves stripped from the stem and dried. It is possible to get 1 kg of dried leaves from 4-5 kg of fresh herbs.
A soft-stemmed perennial plant, its bushy branching stem is one metre
it also grows to a trunk. Cross-opposite ovate leaves 3-6 centimetres long, dark green, sparsely wrinkled, and slightly blistered are superficial. Its flowers are yellow in the bud, and white when open.
THE PRESERVATION OF MENTAL SKILLS AND BRAIN HEALTH
The effect of lemon balm leaf extract has been tested on mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients with positive results. During the study, neither the doctors nor the patients knew whether they were receiving a preparation containing lemon balm or a placebo without the active ingredient.
The researchers also ensured that the results of the study were not influenced by subjective factors. 42 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (18 women, 24 men, in the age range of 65 to 80) took part in the clinical study.
At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that a lemon balm extract is a valuable tool in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The lemon balm extract had a good effect on the patient’s ability to do things. It has proven to be particularly effective for tantrums associated with Alzheimer’s which often make life miserable not only for patients, but also for their relatives.
(Research by Dr Akhondzedeh, et al)
According to a study published in 2003, medical lemon balm extract also improves the memory and mood of young people improves it. The study included 20 volunteers who received 600, 1000 and 1600 mg of dried lemon balm in a capsule. In the case of the highest dose, the mental ability of the participants significantly improved their mood and became calmer.
According to the researchers, these data also support that lemon balm can also be an effective aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
(Research by Dr. Kennedy, et al)
CALM, POSITIVE MOOD AND GOOD MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING
The effect of medical lemon balm on mood and mental abilities was investigated in a special study carried out in the United Kingdom. In this, lemon balm extract was given to 18 healthy volunteers.
One hour later they were exposed to mild psychological stress. And their mood and mental performance compared with a previous study. The researchers found that the lemon balm extract significantly reduced the negative mood effects of stress, and also increased the self-esteem of the participants. As a result of the treatment, the test subjects solved mathematical problems faster but not at the expense of accuracy.
(Research by Dr. Kennedy, et al)
The effect of the medical lemon balm extract was also investigated in the reactions of 6/7-year-old children who were anxious about
visiting the dentist. Some of the 90 children included in the study received a placebo (preparation without an active ingredient), and the other sample received lemon balm extract. 30 minutes later children who received high doses showed significantly reduced levels of anxiety.
(Research by Dr. Pardo-Aldave, et al)
EFFECT OF SUPPORTING CALM AND RELAXING SLEEP
Medicinal lemon balm tincture is a sedative with a hypnotic-like effect that has been known for centuries. The research used 20 volunteers (6 men and 14 women, aged 18 to 70), who exhibited mild or moderate anxiety and sleep disorders. In the experiment, 95% of test subjects show positive results from the lemon balm extract, 70% of them were completely cured of anxiety, 85% of them of insomnia, and in 70% of cases – both.
In this experiment, no side effects were observed. The researchers found that lemon balm was effective against mild or moderate anxiety disorders, and for anyone suffering from sleep disorders – demonstrating that it could be an alternative to pharmaceutical anxiety and sleep treatments.
(Research by Dr Cases, et al)
The antioxidant effect of medicinal lemon balm can be traced back to its polyphenolic components (after Dr Hohman, and research by Dr Trantaphyllou, et al).
Of these, the most important is rosmarinic acid, which according to research has an anti-inflammatory effect (De Englberger, et al). Antioxidant compounds are significant they play a role in mitigating the harmful effects of inflammatory processes.
Stress, smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of sleep, and even excessive sports can cause inflammation in the body. This can be counterbalanced by antioxidant compounds. Constantly high levels of inflammation in the body can lead to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and joint pain.
Lemongrass is an excellent nerve tonic, sedative, hypnotic, and antispasmodic. It also has a diuretic, carminative and diaphoretic effect.
It calms the uterus, heart nerve, stomach and digestive system.
Lemon balm has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years. In folk medicine, it has been used as a nerve tonic, and sedative, in case of sleep disorders and persistent bad moods. It is also used for heart complaints of nervous origin, hyperthyroidism and the resulting nervousness.
According to traditional experience, it helps the liver function, improves digestion, and has an anti-bloating effect. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is becoming a problem in many parts of the world, as are age-related decline in mental performance, nausea, and irritability.
It can also be used in cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colon diseases.
Its scientific name refers to its ability to make honey, melissa because it means honey in Greek.
It has been known and highly valued in the history of medicine for centuries. Due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, it was used externally for stings and bites in ancient times.
It has been used for more than 2,000 years for many purposes. Avicenna (a Persian physician who lived between 980-1037) mentions lemon balm in his Canon Medicinae (The Art of Healing), which “fills the heart with joy” and first used its sedative effect in medieval Europe. He included lemon balm in a decoction that was purported to be his revitalising “elixir of life.” This potion was said to regenerate the drinker’s strength and make one almost immortal. His elixir was claimed even be able to revive patients close to death (Orr, S, 2014 – The new American herbal).
Paracelsus, the famous Swiss physician, thought it would prolong our lives. Indeed, many of the oldest people in the world claim to drink lemon balm tea daily.
In the 19th century, Nicholas Culpeper, accepting Avicenna’s views, declared: “Lemon balm is the cause of serenity of the mind and heart, and drives away worrying worries and thoughts caused by gloom (depression)”.
In the ninth century, Charlemagne consumed lemon balm teas and tinctures to promote health and longevity. He decreed that lemon balm should be included in all apothecary and monastery gardens in his realm. Charlemagne was also fascinated by bees, requiring all farms to keep them and send a portion of their honey and beeswax to the crown.
Bees symbolised immortality and industry, and they are one of the oldest symbols of French rulers. This symbol dates to the Merovingian era. It’s theorised that the fleur-de-lis actually represents a bee. No doubt, the bee-attracting power of lemon balm was of assistance in helping farmers meeting this edict of the crown. Official gamekeepers of bees were designated in order to maintain the integrity of wild hives. During this period, eau de Melisse, or Melissa water, was widely promoted as a tranquiliser and nervine (Foster, S., & Johnson, R. L., 2006 – Desk reference to nature’s medicine.).
In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, lemon balm was prescribed for a long list of ailments, including insomnia, toothache, menstrual issues, digestive upsets, headaches, poor appetite, fever, and anxiety. Its soothing smell made it very popular as a strewing herb at this time and could be found on church floors until the nineteenth century (Johnson, R. L., & Foster, S. (2010) – National Geographic guide to medicinal herbs: The world’s most effective healing plants).
In Greek mythology, Melissa was the nymph who discovered honey and nursed the infant Zeus. Nymphs were said to be able to take the form of bees. These bee-nymphs, named the Melissae in her honor, nursed the infant Zeus with honey. He gained power to later become the king of the gods. Even the genus name, Melissa, is the Greek word for “honeybee” (Blumenthal, 1997).
Bees were also sacred to the goddess Artemis. Priestesses who served her were given a bee honorific title as well. The Oracle at Delphi was also sometimes referred to as a bee…a powerful title for a powerful woman with one toe in the great unknown. Ever since then, the lemon balm plant was associated with power and even immortality.
Historically, humans have used lemon balm as folk medicine for a variety of conditions. The Greeks and Romans used it to flavor wine for fever and crushed the leaves into poultices for wounds and to staunch bleeding. Following the lead of the Greeks, the Romans called the plant “apiastrum,” from apias, or “bee.” Pliny and Dioscorides advocated the use of lemon balm as an anti-venom against stinging creatures.
Due to its essential oil content, lemon balm is also used in the cosmetics industry.
Its essential oil: 0.06-0.8% (monoterpene aldehydes: mainly citral, neral and citronellal). Sesquiterpene derivatives: B-caryophyllene and germacrene-D (both in 10% of the essential oil. Monoterpene glycosides. Flavonoids glycosides: luteolin, quercetin, apigenin and kaempferol, Phenylpropanoids, including hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and rosmarinic acid. Triterpenes: ursolic acid and oleanolic acid.