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Lemon Balm


Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine and flavor foods.

Lemon balm contains chemicals that seem to have a sedative and calming effect. It might also reduce the growth of some viruses and bacteria.

People use lemon balm for cold sores, anxiety, stress, insomnia, indigestion, dementia, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

10 Benefits of Lemon Balm and How to Use It


Farm2Hope gives full credits to the writer at Healthline.



Cognitive function


Cold sores



Menstrual cramps



Side effects and risks


What is it?

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the same family as mint. The herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it’s grown around the world.

Lemon balm has traditionally been used to improve mood and cognitive function, but the potential benefits don’t stop there. Read on to learn more about this plant’s possible healing powers.

1. It can help relieve stress

Lemon balm is said to soothe symptoms of stress, help you to relax, and boost your mood.

A 2004 studyTrusted Source found that taking lemon balm eased the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm self-reported an increased sense of calmness and reduced feelings of alertness.

Although this was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, it had a small sample size of 18 people. Further research is needed to elaborate on these findings.

How to use: Take 300 milligrams (mg) of lemon balm in capsule form twice a day. You can take a single dose of 600 mg in acute episodes of stress.


2. It can help reduce anxiety

Lemon balm may also be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness and excitability.

Research published in 2014 examined the mood and cognitive effects of foods containing lemon balm. The supplement was mixed into a beverage and into yogurt along with either natural or artificial sweeteners. Participants in both groups reported positive effects on various aspects of mood, including reduced levels of anxiety.

Although this is promising, more research is needed to truly determine its efficacy.

How to use: Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times per day. You can take a higher dose in acute episodes of anxiety.

3. It may boost cognitive function

The same 2014 study also looked at the effects of lemon balm in improving cognitive function.

Participants were asked to do cognitive tasks involving memory, mathematics, and concentration. The results of these computerized tasks suggest that participants who ingested lemon balm performed better than those who didn’t.

Although these participants did experience an increase in levels of alertness and performance, it’s still possible for fatigue to set in over time. Combining lemon balm with food also affects its absorption rate, which may have had an impact on its efficacy. Additional research is needed.

How to use: Take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm three times a day.

4. It can help ease insomnia and other sleep disorders

Combining lemon balm with valerian may help relieve restlessness and sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Researchers in one 2006 study found that children who took a combined dose experienced a 70 to 80 percent improvement in symptoms. Both the researchers and parents regarded lemon balm as being a good or very good treatment. Still, more research is needed to validate these findings.

How to use: Drink a cup of tea brewed with valerian and lemon balm before bed. You can find loose-leaf or bagged options at your local grocery store or online.

5. It may help treat cold sores

You can even apply lemon balm topically at the first sign of a cold sore.

Participants in a 1999 study applied either a lemon balm or placebo cream on the affected area four times per day for five days. The researchers found that the participants who used the lemon balm cream experienced fewer symptoms and healed faster than those who didn’t.

The researchers also suggested that using lemon balm cream may help prolong the intervals between cold sore outbreaks. Further studies are needed to expand on these findings.

How to use: Apply a lemon balm cream to the affected area several times per day. Be sure to patch test the cream on the inside of your forearm before applying it to the cold sore. If you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours, it should be safe to use.

6. It may help relieve indigestion

If you experience frequent abdominal pain and discomfort, lemon balm may have a positive effect on your digestion.

  1. A small study from 2010 Trusted Source assessed the effects of a cold dessert containing lemon balm on functional dyspepsia. Participants ate a sorbet, with or without the herb, after a meal. Although both types of desserts lessened the symptoms and their intensity, the dessert containing lemon balm intensified this effect. More research is needed.

    How to use: Add 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie and enjoy.

7. It can help treat nausea

Given its potential impact on your digestive system, lemon balm may also help relieve feelings of nausea.

A 2005 review assessing the results of several studies on lemon balm found the herb to be useful in treating gastrointestinal symptoms such as this. Although this is a promising development, it’s important to recognize the study limitations.

Many of the studies looked at lemon balm used in conjunction with other herbs. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of lemon balm when used alone.

How to use: Drink a cup of lemon balm tea at the first sign of nausea. You can find loose-leaf or bagged options at your local grocery store or online.

8. It may help minimize menstrual cramps

There’s also research to suggest that lemon balm can be used to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

A 2015 studyTrusted Source researched the effect of lemon balm in reducing the intensity of cramps in 100 high school girls. The girls took either a lemon balm essence or a placebo for three consecutive menstrual cycles. The intensity of PMS symptoms was analyzed before and one, two, and three months after the trial. The group who took the lemon balm reported a significant reduction in symptoms. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.

How to use: Take 1200 mg of lemon balm daily for optimal results. This will allow the herb to get into your system long before it’s time for PMS symptoms to appear. Continued use is thought to reduce your symptoms over time.

9. It may help ease headache pain

Lemon balm may also be useful in treating headaches, especially if they’re happening as a result of stress. It’s relaxing properties can help you to unwind, release tension, and relax your muscles. It’s also though that ingesting the herb can help to open up and relax tight blood vessels, which can contribute to headaches.

How to use: If you experience recurrent headaches, you may find it beneficial take 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm up to three times per day. This will allow the herb to get into your system well before a headache develops. You can take a higher dose if you feel a headache developing.

10. It may help lessen toothache pain

Lemon balm’s pain-relieving properties may make it an ideal choice for relieving toothache pain. In addition to drawing on its relaxing properties, this home remedy is thought to target inflammation in the body. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

How to use: Use a cotton swab to apply lemon balm oil to the affected area as needed. Be sure to select an oil that has already been diluted by a carrier oil, such as jojoba. If you purchase pure lemon balm oil, you should dilute it. Essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin until they are diluted in a carrier oil.

The bottom line

Lemon balm can’t replace any doctor-approved treatment plan that you’re currently following, but it may be an effective complementary treatment. Talk to your doctor about your individual case and the potential benefits and risks involved.

If you’re growing your own lemon balm, or using dried leaves for tea, there is little risk. But if you’re taking capsules, powder, or other commercially prepared supplements or herbs choose a reputable company. Herbs and supplements are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration and there may be issues with purity, quality, or safety.

If you begin using lemon balm, you may find it beneficial to keep a journal about your experience. You should make a note of any improvements you notice or side effects. It may also be helpful to keep track of what time you take lemon balm, the amount taken, and the way you ingest it.

12+ Things to Do With Lemon Balm


Farm2Hope gives full credits to the writer at ‘’.

1. Make a sleepy time herbal syrup:

1 Make a sleepy time herbal syrup

This is a delicious way to calm and relax everyone from children to adults.

Place about 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves into a small pot and add enough water to just cover the leaves.

Simmer, covered partially, until the liquid is reduced in half.

Strain out & compost the leaves.

While still quite warm, measure out about 1/2 cup of the concentrated tea and stir 1/4 cup raw honey into it.

Add more honey to taste, if you wish.

Store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Dose by the spoonful at night to help calm and relax. (Honey should not be used with children under 1 year old.)

Note: You can make larger or smaller batches – keeping a ratio of about 2 parts lemon balm infusion to 1 part honey.

2. Make a lemon balm bug spray:

2 Make a lemon balm bug spray

I’ve tried a lot of homemade bug spray recipes and this is my favorite one.

The best part is that it’s yet another way to help use up some of my abundance of lemon balm and other herbs!

You can find the full recipe and how to make it in my blog post, Lemon Balm Bug Spray.

3. Chop fresh leaves and sprinkle on salads or in baked goods:

Drizzle the salads with honey or a dressing made of yogurt and honey.

Try adding finely chopped leaves (1 to 2 TBSP) and lemon zest (a pinch) to your favorite scone or muffin recipe.

Related: Fresh leaves can also be frozen in ice cubes to dress up a summer beverage.

4. Make a lip balm for cold sores:


This lip balm recipe was designed especially for my son who developed cold sores triggered by sunshine when he was young.

It cleared his cold sores up within a few months and they stayed away!

You can find the full recipe and how to make it in my blog post, Super Healing Cold Sore Lip Balm.

5. Make a glycerite:

5 Make a glycerite

Glycerites are a sweet way to dose herbal medicine without the alcohol that regular tinctures contain. Herbal infused glycerin can also be used as an ingredient in lotions, toners and aftershave recipes.

To make a lemon balm glycerite:

Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves.

Cover with a mixture of 3 parts vegetable glycerine to 1 part water.

Cap and let this sit in a dark place for 3 to 4 weeks.


Dose is 1/2 teaspoon as needed to relax and calm.

Store in your refrigerator for several months

(Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs.)

6. Make a relaxing, tummy soothing tea:

Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves.

Pour simmering hot water into the jar then cover the top with a saucer so that none of the vapors escape.

Let steep until cool enough to drink. Sweeten to taste & enjoy!

7. Make lemon balm soap:


This soap recipe is made with lemon balm tea and naturally scented with lemongrass.

It’s a perfect way to use up some extra lemon balm from your garden!

You can find the full recipe in my blog post, Lemon Balm Soap.


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8. Make a simple remedy for bug bites & acne:

Moisten a pinch of cosmetic clay with lemon balm tea.

Dab on blemishes and bug bites as needed.

Allow to air dry and keep it on your skin as long as possible to help soothe the itchiness and inflammation.

9. Make a relaxing bath:


Fill a bath bag with lemon balm leaves and rose petals.

Hang from the spigot and let the water run through as the tub fills.

For even more relaxation, try throwing a cup of Epsom salt into the tub as well.

(No bath bags handy? Try a thin white sock with a knot tied at the top.)

10. Make a ginger & lemon balm cold syrup:


This Ginger & Lemon Balm Syrup is a ramped up version of a basic ginger syrup, with lemon balm added for its extra antiviral properties.

It’s so easy to make, your kids can help!.

Stash it in the refrigerator for around 2 weeks and take whenever you’ve been around germy people, feel a little run down or think you might be catching something.

You can find the full recipe and how to make it at my blog post, Ginger & Lemon Balm Cold & Flu Syrup.

11. Make a lemon balm tincture:

11 Make a lemon balm tincture

This is a great stomach soothing, anti-viral concoction, perfect to take when you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or bug.

To make a lemon balm tincture:

Add fresh lemon balm leaves to a jar until about three-quarters filled. (Or fill a jar about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way with dried lemon balm leaves.)

Pour in 80 proof or higher alcohol (like vodka) until the jar is filled.

Cap with a non-metallic lid and store in a cool, dark place for about 4 to 6 weeks, shaking periodically

Strain and store for at least a year.

Adult dose is 1/4 teaspoon (about 1 dropperful or 1 ml) at a time, as needed.

I usually mix with equal parts honey for better patient compliance.

Lemon Balm is also a star ingredient in my trusted Favorite Cold & Flu Tincture.


12. Make a lemon balm vinegar:

Lemon balm vinegar can be used as a hair rinse, added to your bath water, or used to add extra flavor to salad dressings.

You could also use it in an oxymel remedy. (Oxymels are sweet and sour herbal syrups – learn how to make those HERE.)

Fill a jar about 3/4 full with fresh leaves.

Cover with apple cider vinegar.

Cap with a non-metallic lid and let steep in a cool dark place for a few weeks.

Strain and use.

Shelf life should be at least 9 months to 1 year+.

13. Make candied lemon balm leaves:

13 Make candied lemon balm leaves

This is a favorite kid activity around here!

To make: Beat an egg white with a tiny bit of water. Dip lemon balm leaves in the mixture, then dip in sugar. Lay the coated leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven until the leaves look dry, but not browned. Check after 20 minutes and every 5 to 10 after that.

14. Make lemon balm & honey butter:

Mix half a stick (4 tablespoons) of softened butter with a pinch of finely chopped lemon balm. Add a drizzle of honey to taste.

Yummy on hot fresh bread or biscuits!

15. Make an herbal water:

15 Make an herbal water

This subtly flavored water is so refreshing on a hot summer day!

To make lemon balm water:

Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves and a thinly sliced lemon. Pour in cold water until it reaches the top. Refrigerate for several hours