A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial plant that has been revered by many to promote longevity, good health and cure a multitude of ailments for hundreds of years. Originating in North Africa, West Asia and Europe, Lemon Balm continues to be cultivated for its natural beauty, lemony scent and medicinal benefits.
Favoured by royalty and intellectuals as early as the 11th century, Lemon Balm was recorded throughout history as a plant perceived to support wellness by acting on the mind and body.
An early example of this was Ibn Sina, the father of traditional medicine, often known in the west as Avicenna. Sina was a Persian Polymath who felt Lemon Balm supported mood and “causeth the mind and heart to become merry”.
The 13th century Llewelyn, Prince of Gwynedd believed Lemon Balm supported longevity and was said to enjoy herbal tea made from the plant almost everyday. Whether or not Lemon Balm actually made a difference in his lifespan, the Prince was an anomaly of his time and ended up living to an impressive 108 years of age.
In the Odyssey, an ancient Greek poem, Homer references Lemon Balm, detailing its sedative effects, writing that it “driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind”. Similarly, the Roman emperor, Charles the Great, was a proponent of the herb’s relaxing effect and championed the cultivation of Lemon Balm during his reign.
What is Lemon Balm Good For?
- Use as a Natural Sleep Aid*
- Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety*
Lemon Balm May Calm the Mind and Help You Sleep
Although many of its anctetodal uses can now be chalked up as folklore, Lemon Balm may indeed provide an anxiolytic and calming effect that may support a restful state before bed.*
In fact, Lemon Balm contains phytochemicals like Rosmarinic Acid, which have been shown to inhibit the enzyme GABA transaminase (GABA-T), naturally increasing levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.1
GABA acts on the nervous system by slowing down signals and reducing neuronal excitability. It helps to reduce overwhelming feelings of anxiety and encourages relaxation.
Lemon Balm may help you to wind down at night by influencing your brain’s GABA levels, creating a sedative effect that reduces the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.*
In a pilot trial using Lemon Balm in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances, researchers noted statistically significant responses through administration of a standardized extract. In fact, the study showed that as much as 95% of the subjects responded to the treatment, of which 70% achieved full remission for anxiety, 85% for insomnia and 70% for both.2
Lemon Balm May Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
According to a small study in the journal Nutrients, Lemon Balm may be an effective natural remedy to help reduce symptoms of anxiety.* In this particular study, a drink containing 0.3g of Lemon Balm displayed anxiolytic-like effects for a sustained period of time similar to that of modern benzodiazepines.3 Interestingly, the same effects were replicated in another study using a powdered extract administered in yogurt rather than a water-based drink.4
Similar to above, this research seems to suggest that the Rosmarinic Acid found in Lemon Balm increases the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), ultimately calming the mind and helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety.*
In a small double-blind placebo controlled study, researchers investigated the effects that a standardized dose of Lemon Balm extract would have on mitigating the stress response of otherwise healthy humans. The 18 volunteers were given either a standardized extract of 300mg, 600mg or a placebo on separate days with a 7-day washout period. Assessments were made during predose and 1-hour postdose completions of a 20-minute Defined Intensity Stressor Simulation (DISS) Battery. While under stress, the volunteers who were given 600mg of Lemon Balm extract overcame the effects of the DISS, claiming a self-assessed increase in calmness and a reduced rating of alertness. The volunteers who were given a 300mg dose of Lemon Balm extract on the other hand, showed a significant increase in mathematical processing with no reduction in accuracy. Although further research is needed, the results seem to suggest that Lemon Balm may help to calm the mind, mitigating the effects of stress in humans.*5
Summary: Lemon Balm - Calm the Mind, A Natural Sleep Aid
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemony scented herb with a calming, anxiolytic-like effect that can be made into a tea, added to a smoothie or salad. Today, Lemon Balm can be purchased in a standardized extract form. For example, a standardized 10:1 extract means that the supplement is 10x stronger than the herb itself.
Rosmarinic Acid, a phytochemical found in Lemon Balm increases levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, creating a calming effect which may help to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety.* Lemon Balm extract may also be considered an effective natural sleep aid as it’s ability to calm the mind is conducive to an optimal sleep state.*
Night Botanic, our natural, plant-based sleep aid contains 150mg of Lemon Balm at a 10:1 standardized extract. Designed to promote healthy sleep patterns, Night Botanic encourages a restorative and quality sleep without any groggy side effects the next day. Try Night Botanic today. *
*The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.