Lemon Balm

“Lemon Balm”

Balm and bees have been linked since ancient times. Melissa comes from the Greek word for Honey Bee, and Lemon Balm has the same healing and tonic properties as honey.
Gerard said that the herb “comforteth the hart and driveth away all sadnesse”. Melissa was also a favourite in medieval ‘elixirs of youth’; the alchemist Paracelsus made a preparation called ‘primum ens melissae’, which was still thought to renew youth well into the 18th century.

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis

Common name: Lemon Balm

Family: Lamiacaea

Parts Used: Fresh or dried aerial parts – Harvest before flowering

“It causes the mind and heart to become merry, and reviveth the heart, faintings, and swooning, especially of such who are overtaken in sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind, arising from melancholy and black choler.” – Seraphio

Active Constituents: 

  • Essential oil (citronellal, citral)
  • Sesquiterpenoids
  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Phenolic acids
  • Triterpenes
  • Monoterpene glycosides
  • Flavonoids

Qualities: Cold, dry, sour & slightly bitter (Ody)

“Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy” – John Evelyn, 1679


  • Carminative
  • Anxiolytic (may significantly inhibit MAO-A, an enzyme responsible for degradation of a range of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine (Lopez et al. 2009)
  • Spasmolytic / anti-spasmodic
  • Mild sedative
  • Antidepressant (Hoffman)
  • Diaphoretic
  • Hypotensive (Hoffman)
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) antagonist (although there is some thought that Lemon Balm is more of a thyroid adaptogen and will only reduce TSH if required [Yarnell])
  • Antiviral (topically)


  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nervous sleeping disorders
  • Mild anxiety disorders (Cases et al. 2011)
  • Infantile colic
  • Indigestion, flatulence, colic
  • Tenseness and irritability
  • Depression, nervous breakdown
  • Stress and tension
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Fevers
  • Common cold, influenza
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Teenage health – e.g. nervousness, low mood, poor cognition and sleeping difficulties
  • Topical treatment for herpes simplex virus – applied in a concentrated aqueous extract or as an essential oil in a cream for herpes simplex type 1 (reduces healing time by half)

• BHP specific for dyspepsia associated with anxiety or depressive states

Lemon Balm is thought to enhance mood by ‘bringing joy to the heart’, especially in those individuals who have lost the ability to feel joy due to their situation – whether this be illness or personal life.

“Lemon Balm can lift the mood while calming the mind”

 Contraindications: None known

Cautions: None known


3-6ml of 1:2 LE per day or 20-40ml per week


  • Infantile colic – with chamomile, vervain, licorice & fennel (Bone)
  • Sleep disturbances – with valerian, hops and motherwort (Bone)



References & Links to Articles:


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