Lemon balm is a gorgeous, vivacious, delicious smelling plant that flourishes all over the United States, though originally from Europe. It need only be planted once and comes back yearly, yielding high amounts of leaves. The fresh leaf or the dried leaf may be used to make infusions: strong medicinal tea. Lemon balm is in the Lamiaceae family, which is the same family as mint.
Lemon balm tastes exactly as the name implies: like lemon. It isn’t quite like drinking lemon juice but rather it has a nice lemon-like flavor.
This herb is a staple in my house and often comes up in the top 5 herbs that we use regularly.
Some of the amazing attributes we know about lemon balm are:
- Antiviral: blocks attachment of viruses onto and into cells
- Carminative & antispasmodic: dispels gas and bloating, decreases spasms
- Thyroid suppressive: quiets an overactive thyroid (ie Graves Disease or hyperthyroidism)
- Nervine: calming to the nervous system, central and peripheral
- Corrigent: used to enhance the flavor of other teas
Folklore: The Taoists drank a glass of lemon balm tea daily and many lived well past a century, owing in part some of their health to lemon balm.
Lemon balm is calm and gentle enough for children and infants, yet strong enough for adults!
How I use this plant in my practice:
Great for those who experience regular mild to moderate anxiety, nervousness, and/or depression. Women who experience nervousness related to PMS or menopause benefit from using this plant regularly. If you experience anxiety and hypothyroidism, this may not be the herb for you though as it does help to reduce the effects of thyroid hormone on the body when there is an excessive amount. If you have no thyroid issues or you have hyperthyroidism, this herb is great for anxiety and depression.
Extremely useful for insomnia, espescially with restlessness. In fact the combination of Valeriana officinalis and lemon balm has been shown to be as effective for mild to moderate insomnia as benzodiazepene medications, with fewer side effects. 1 This same combination is great for ADHD and impulsivity in children, as well. 2 3
Wonderfully useful for digestive complaints especially dyspepsia, intestinal gas, viral gastroenteritis (such as the norovirus), and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Any nervous stomach condition will benefit greatly from this herb.
Perfect for infants who experience colic. Makes a great combination with fennel and chamomile. A nursing mother can ingest this tea and/or baby can be given 5-10 drops of tea by mouth regularly.
Enhances memory through the nervine and antioxidant qualities it contains, by working on the GABA pathway. 4 Has been shown to relieve symptoms of and positively affect the memory of those with Alzheimer’s. 5
As an antiviral it is great topically for herpes and shingles neuralgia.
It is also wonderful for kids when they have earaches, stomach aches, or a run of the mill cold due to its antiviral nature.
Useful in cardiovascular formulas to support the heart when hypertension is present especially when due to stress! It will calm down the nervous system which influences blood pressure!
When treating hyperthyroidism or Grave’s (autoimmune hyperthyroidism), it helps to reduce symptoms caused by excessive thyroid hormone & autoimmune antibodies including: palpitations restlessness, anxiety and headaches.
To prepare: take 1 tbsp of dried or fresh herb, place in a teapot or glass/ceramic-steeping container. Add boiled water and allow to steep, with a cover, for a minimum of 20 minutes. Strain or remove tea ball. Drink 1-2 cups daily.
- Other ways you may find lemon balm: tincture (alcohol extraction), glycerite (glycerin extraction), and capsules.
Well, there you have it. One of the best plant allies I have found due to its great number of medicinal uses and ability to be used in so many different populations. I promise you once you try this one out for yourself, you are going to love it!
Here is to your health,
Images by KaiMartin