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Lemon Balm Health and Nutritional Benefits

The lemon balm plant is also referred to as garden balm or sweet balm. It is a perennial plant that belongs to the mint family and grows to a height of 2 ½ meters high. The leaves of the plant are serrated and crinkly and have the fragrance of lemon. The plant blooms with tiny white flowers during the summer. There are many lemon balm health benefits.
It is known to have mild sedative properties and hence is great for relieving stress. It also aids in proper digestion. Due to its pleasant flavor it makes for an excellent remedy for children. The leaves of the lemon balm plant may be used in cooking as well and can be added to salads, meat and fish dishes and soups. They may also be used to add flavor to sorbets and custards. Here are some of the many medicinal benefits of lemon balm.
  • Herpes: Lemon balm is helpful in treating infections caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus leads to the formation of cold sores around the mouth area. Studies show that lemon balm creams and ointments help to bring down the swelling and redness caused by cold sores in just two days.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Lemon balm is also believed to help in regulating the thyroid hormones. In Grave’s disease, certain antibodies stimulate the functioning of the thyroid glands. Studies indicate that lemon balm helps to restrict these antibodies and hence prevents fluctuation of the thyroid hormones. Lemon balm as a treatment for hyperthyroidism is usually available in the form of a tea. A tea made with lemon balm and bugleweed is known to be especially helpful in alleviating symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
  • Anxiety: There are many studies which show that lemon balm used alone or in conjunction with other herbs such as valerian is helpful in combating anxiety and sleeping trouble. Lemon balm helps to bring about an improvement in sleep patterns and alleviates symptoms of stress.
  • ADHD: Individuals affected with ADHD tend to experience feelings of anxiety. Lemon balm is helpful in relieving these feelings due to its calming effect. It also does not lead to the side effects that are brought about by many prescription medications for ADHD. Lemon balm helps to bring about an improvement in focus. These positive effects of the herb may be due to the presence of antioxidants. The antioxidants help to prevent oxidation of the cells. When used in conjunction with other supplements, lemon balm can greatly enhance mental functions such as concentration and memory.
  • Acne: Lemon balm leaves are astringent in nature and also have antibacterial properties. This helps in cleansing the skin pores and reducing the formation of whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. One of the antioxidant ingredients contained in lemon balm is rosmarinic acid and is made use of in many herbal facial cleansers because of its positive effect on the complexion. This acid helps in reducing oil production and hence reduces the chances of acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce swelling and redness that accompanies acne outbreaks. There are several beauty and skin care products which contain lemon balm as an essential ingredient.
  • Cold sores: The polyphenols in lemon balm are antiviral in nature and hence help in treating cold sores which are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Studies show that cold sores heal much faster when treated with lemon balm. The time period between recurring bouts of infection was also increased.
  • Sleep: Difficulties in sleeping arise mainly due to stress. Lemon balm is an excellent remedy for insomnia because it helps to ease nervousness, panic and tension. It also helps to alleviate heart palpitations causes by anxiety. Lemon balm serves as a natural sedative and may be used along with other herbs such as chamomile and valerian to enhance the calming effect.
  • Stress: Lemon balm is known to induce stress relief and relaxation and is beneficial for those who suffer from chronic anxiety and stress. It may be used in the form of essential oils or herbal teas.
  • Genital herpes: Genital herpes is also caused by the herpes simplex virus and affects the mucus membranes of the genital region. Lemon balm is known to reduce the intensity of genital herpes symptoms. With regular use, it may also help to prevent recurring outbreaks.
  • Shingles: The herpes zoster virus is responsible for causing shingles. The use of  shingles as well as for treating other infections caused by this virus is well known. Lemon balm tea may be applied to the affected areas about three to four times daily. This will help to prevent spread of the virus and will also induce quicker healing of the sores and blisters.

Garden or Sweet Balm Nutrition

There are certain lemon balm nutrition facts that are still unknown to many people. Lemon balm nutritional benefits also include relief from symptoms of indigestion and alleviation of menstrual cramps. Since it is helpful in increasing memory power, it is beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Those who suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort and urinary spasms also stand to benefit from regular use of lemon balm. This is because the powerful oils present in the herb help to relax the bladder muscles. Lemon balm may also be used to regulate blood pressure and to treat flu.

Side Effects Of Lemon Balm

There are certain lemon balm side effects which must be considered before using the herb. When used along with other herbs or medications which are known to trigger drowsiness, there may be impairment of mental functioning as well as over-sedation. Individuals who take medications for hyperthyroidism should avoid using lemon balm because it may influence the treatment. The herb may also elevate the pressure within the eyes and hence should not be used by people with glaucoma. Lemon balm is also not recommended for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Lemon balm oil side effects may include allergic reactions in some individuals. Signs of an allergy to lemon balm include hives, skin rash, itching, swelling and also pain and tightness in the throat and chest. Immediate medical attention is necessary if such symptoms occur. Since lemon balm supplements side effects include excessive sedation, individuals who have to undergo surgery should avoid using the herb at least two days before the surgical procedure. In order to prevent side effects of lemon balm, the herb must be taken in the recommended doses. In tincture form, lemon balm should be taken in the quantity of 2 to 3 mL in case of adults. This is about 40 to 90 drops of the tincture thrice daily. In capsule form, about 300 to 500 mg is the recommended dosage. Lemon balm tea may be prepared by steeping approximately 1.5 grams of the dried herb in hot water. Up to four cups of lemon balm tea may be consumed by adults each day. Lemon balm may be used topically in the form of ointments and creams. These applications may be used on the skin directly. A topical liquid may also be prepared by steeping a couple of teaspoons of crushed leaves in boiling water for about ten minutes. This liquid may then be applied to the skin. In order to avoid lemon balm extract side effects it is always recommended that you first consult your doctor.
Submitted on January 16, 2014