Lemon balm, also known as Melissa Officinalis, has been used for countless generations to preserve good heath and treat ill health, and with good reason. Although scientific research has only recently began to back up the numerous claims of the health giving properties of this herb, many uses have evolved and many can be testified to. Below are some of its commonly attributed health benefits.
Anyone who has sniffed the aroma of Lemon Balm will understand why many people use it to alleviate headaches and nausea. It has a relaxing smell and is therefore very popular with headache sufferers.
Due to the polyphenol tannins contained in lemon balm, it is regarded as an effective antiviral treatment. Over the years, Melissa plants has been used to treat herpes. Usually a lotion/oil or lineament based version of Melissa Officinalis is used. The high selenium content in this herb assists with its ability to regulate thyroid function and helps raise antioxidant levels, promoting immune system health. In autoimmune disease, oxidative stress is considered to be a major environmental trigger. In Europe, preparations containing 700 mg lemon balm are used to treat the herpes disorder shingles. Topical creams containing 1 percent L-701, a dried extract of lemon balm, are also widely used to treat oral and skin blisters in herpes infections. Studies suggest that melissa reduces the development of resistance in the herpes virus and blocks the attachment of herpes virus to the receptor sites of host cells, preventing the spread of infection. In addition, the scientific testing of balm on certain animals has confirmed in antiviral properties.
Mosquito / Insect repellant
Lemon balm has been successfully used as an insect repellant. By crushing the leaves and rubbing directly onto the skin, the lemon smell has been known to provide a scented barrier to the insects which would otherwise be attracted to your skin.
Over the years, dried lemon balm leaves have been consumed as tea. Teas made with the herb, both hot and cold are common and like many green teas, proponents believe they have wondrous health properties. Lemon Balm tea is believed to contain antibacterial compounds and antiviral properties, as demonstrated by the herbs ability to combat viruses like the Herpes Simplex virus (cold sores).
Lemon balm is known to be a calming agent for those suffering from anxiety or stress. A drug relating to the treatment of anxiety is know as anxiolytic and most types of balm fall into this category. Scientific evidence shows that a control group, given Melissa Officinalis, in addition to valerian, chamomile and hops, reported reduced levels of stress and anxiety as opposed to a control group given a placebo. Scientists believe that the essential oil of lemon acts upon the part of the brain governing the autonomic nervous system and can protect the cerebrum from excessive external stimuli. It also has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system causing mild vasodilation of the peripheral vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
In addition to reducing stress, it was actually found to improve mood and even mental performance for activities such as memory and tests. These properties have also created a stir in the scientific communities as it has tremendous relevance regarding the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Sufferers of depression may also benefit from melissa treatments.
Sleep Aid / Mild sedative
Lemon Balm has been traditionally been attributed with sleep enhancing properties and can act as a mild sedative. Many people put lemon herb extract close to where they are sleeping or take a lemon balm tincture prior to sleep. This has been known to help poor sleepers. People with fatigue are recommended lemon balm and can be beneficial to sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Administration of Lemon Balm to sufferers of Alzheimers has been known to be effective in treating / providing temporary relief for mild to moderate symptoms of the disease.
The entire Melissa genus is regarded as having ‘exceptionally high antioxidant activity’, which makes it extremely suitable for advocates of antioxidants.
Hyperthyroidism and Grave’s disease
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease where the thyroid is overactive, producing an excessive amount of thyroid hormones (a serious metabolic imbalance known as hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis). Lemon balm has been used to relieve symptoms of autoimmune disease and promote a healthy immune system in patients with autoimmune disease.
Used as an injection along with Lycopus virginicus or bugleweed, lemon balm is widely used in Europe for treating Graves’ disease and is also used as a tonic or tea to reduce and manage symptoms in Graves’ disease. The Melissa herb slows pituitary function, lowering TSH levels, which, in turn, reduces thyroid hormone levels and it is rather paradoxically used to raise thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism. Balm herbs strengthen rather than stimulate thyroid function, restoring normal levels to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. However, its effects are mild and this herb is not considered an effective treatment for patients with moderate to severe hypothyroidism.
In addition the melissa herb inhibits the receptor binding site and biological activity of immunoglobulins in the blood of patients with Graves’ disease. You should seek a medical professional’s advice when considering any treatment.
Used as a tea, Melissa Officinalis is used to stimulate the menstrual period in women with amenorrhea (absent or scanty menstrual periods), and is particularly useful in women nearing menopause.
Lemon balm may help treat indigestion as it contains a muscle relaxant which may relax the intestinal tract. Muscle spasms, which can be the cause of discomfort, may be counteracted by the natural chemicals contained within the Melissa herb and improve the symptoms of indigestion.
Allergic reactions, mumps, respiratory congestion, flu/influenza, palpitations, nervousness, palpitations and has even been known as a longevity drug! The fountain of youth?