encyclopedia

Lemon Balm Leaf

Scientific Names:
Melissa officinalis L. [Fam. Lamiaceae]

Forms:
Lemon balm leaf tea; Alcohol extracts of lemon balm; lemon balm oil

Traditional Usage:
– AIDS

– Alzheimer’s Disease

– Amenorrhea

– Antibacterial

– Antinflammatory (for mucous membranes)

– Antihistaminic

– Anti-HIV

– Antioxidant

– Antiseptic (externally)

– Antispasmodic

– Antiulcer

– Antiviral

– Bile Deficiency

– Breathing Disorders

– Bronchitis

– Carminative

– Cellular Regeneration

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

– Cough

– Cold

– Colic

– Digestive Cramps

– Digestive Disorders

– Dyspepsia

– Fatigue

– Fever

– Flatulence

– Gall Bladder Conditions

– Gastrointestinal Disorders

– Graves’ Disease

– Headaches

– Herpes

– Hypothyroidism

– Insect Bites

– Insomnia

– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

– Memory Problems

– Menstrual Cramps

– Mental Fatigue

– Migraine

– Mumps

– Nervous tension

– Newcastle’s Disease

– Poultice

– Sedative

– Shingles

– Sores

– Stomachaches

– Thyroid Disorders

– Ulcers

– Wounds

Overview:
Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis L. [Fam. Lamiaceae], is a wonder herb from the mint family with a pleasant lemon-scent, often taken as a tea after a meal for its ability to reduce indigestion and gas. Lemon balm tea was also traditionally used in Europe as a mild sedative and to treat headaches, migraines, nervous tension and insomnia, as well as to treat colds, fevers and coughs. Based on research, the German Commission E recognizes lemon balm for treating nervous disturbances of sleep and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Studies demonstrate that lemon balm extract significantly increases bile secretion and protects the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers. Lemon balm produces a dose dependent anti-ulcerogenic effect associated with reduced acid output, increased mucin secretion, an increase in prostaglandin E2 release and a decrease in leukotrienes. In European folk tradition, lemon balm tea was also used as an antispasmodic for treating menstrual cramps and amenorrhea. Experimentally, lemon balm can also be used against mental fatigue, poor memory, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disorders and Grave’s disease. Lemon balm extract also has strong antimicrobial properties against viral, bacterial and fungal infections and can be used both internally and externally. Studies show that lemon balm extract is effective against herpes simplex, Newcastle disease and other viruses. Applied externally as a cream, lemon balm extract significantly decreases healing time of herpes mouth sores (recurring herpes labialis), prevents their spread and reduces the symptoms of itching. The aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis also has potent anti-HIV-1 activity (with an ED of 16 microg/ml). The active components in the extract were found to be water-soluble polar substances, not nonpolar compounds such as essential oils. In addition, the aqueous extract inhibited giant cell formation in cells with and without HIV-1 infection and showed inhibitory activity against HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.

Active Ingredients:
Lemon balm leaves contain: 0.02-0.3% essential oil containing over 70 different components including >60% monoterpenes (ca. 30-40% citronellal; citral a and b (geranial and neral) in the ratio of 3:4-5 (ca. 10-30%); methyl citronellate; ocimene; citronellol; geraniol; and nerol); and >35% sesquiterpenes (ca. 10% beta-caryophyllene and germacrene D; germacra-1(10)E,5E-dien-ol; eugenyl glucoside; and ca. 4% rosmarinic acid (also called labiate tannin). There are also many polyphenols including chlorogenic, ferulic and caffeic acids, flavonoids, as well as triterpenes and other bitter substances in the leaves.

Suggested Amount:
Lemon balm can be taken as a tea with the recommended dosage of a warm cup of tea taken three to five times a day between or after meals, or as required. The infusion of coarsely cut or powdered leaves is made using 1.5-4.5g (ca. 1 teaspoon = 1 gram) of herb material to one cup of boiling water. The boiling water is poured over the herb material and extracted for 5-10 minutes and then strained. Alternatively, 5-15g of tincture can be taken daily, or other preparations taken correspondingly. For washes, a 5% infusion is recommended.

Drug Interactions:
None known

Contraindications:
None known

Side Effects:
None known

References:

Auf’mkolk M, Ingbar JC, Kubota K, Amir SM, Ingbar SH. 1985. Extracts and auto-oxidized constituents of certain plants inhibit the receptor-binding and the biological activity of Graves’ immunoglobulins. Endocrinology 1985 May; 116(5): 1687-93.

Koytchev R, Alken RG, Dundarov S. 1999. Balm mint extract (Lo-701) for topical treatment of recurring herpes labialis. Phytomedicine 1999 Oct; 6(4): 225-30.

Khayyal MT, el-Ghazaly MA, Kenawy SA, Seif-el-Nasr M, Mahran LG, Kafafi YA, Okpanyi SN. 2001. Antiulcerogenic effect of some gastrointestinally acting plant extracts

and their combination. Arzneimittelforschung 2001; 51(7): 545-53.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Melissae folium – Balm. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 329-332.

Yamasaki K, Nakano M, Kawahata T, Mori H, Otake T, Ueba N, Oishi I, Inami R, Yamane M, Nakamura M, Murata H, Nakanishi T. 1998. Anti-HIV-1 activity of herbs in Labiatae. Biol Pharm Bull 1998 Aug; 21(8): 829-33.