Cool & Calm with Lemonbalm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a type of mint with a lemony scent which grows native to south-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, and Central Asia, but is now naturalized globally.
It has an outstanding and time-tested reputation as a calming herb and for aiding digestion.
Knowledge dating as far back as the Middle Ages notes its usage in reducing stress and anxiety, promoting sleep, and easing the pain and discomfort of indigestion, gas and bloating. Even earlier techniques for the use of lemon balm include steeping it in wine to ‘lift the spirits’ (must try that in the lab!), help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings.
Lemon balm can be especially helpful if you have trouble nodding off. Transformitea Nuit maximises the natural calming, soothing effect of lemon balm by combining it with it’s known companion herbs, valerian and hops, to enhance even greater relaxation.
In one study of people with minor sleep problems, 81% of those who took a herbal combination of valerian and lemon balm reported sleeping much better than those who took a placebo. Third party studies note children slept more peacefully throughout the night with lemon balm on it’s own, and a placebo-controlled trial showed that menopausal women suffering from interrupted sleep reported much better rest after taking a lemon balm and valerian extract.
The same is true of several studies for anxiety, which used a combination of herbs to reduce symptoms. In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 18 healthy volunteers received 2 separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm increased mood and significantly increased calmness and alertness.
It is excellent news that although lemon balm calms the mind it doesn’t dull the mind or senses in any way. In fact it can perk you up and result in a more positive mood. Tests even report improved memory and problem-solving after taking it. Numerous further tests have been done on extracts of lemon balm which resulted in positive outcomes for improving recall, problem solving, and enhanced mood (without the afore mentioned wine-soaking this time!).
Basically, a compound found in lemon balm suppresses natural bodily reactions that normally break down the brain’s message pathways responsible for memory and thought, resulting in less breakdown and therefore better memory.
There are a couple of relevant terms we need to absorb to fully understand the benefits of some of the botanicals in our Transformitea. They are: Antioxidant and Free Radicals.
Here’s a Wikipedia mind melt if I ever saw one: “An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells”. Okayyy, so what is a Free Radical? “Oxidative stress occurs when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, which are called free radicals. … Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This body scavenging causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA.”
In English, this means antioxidants help prevent cell damage in your body. Lemon balm is loaded with antioxidants. Ca-ching.
Likewise, studies on animal biology show lemon balm is effective at protecting the liver from some of the negative effects of an unhealthy diet. Lemon balm supports the liver’s production of two important antioxidants (ok, we’ll name them to show we didn’t make it up to impress you – glutathione and superoxide dismutase or SOD) which can play a critical role in reducing internal inflammation (a word to describe the response of body’s tissue to harmful stimuli) and lessening pain associated with conditions such as arthritis. By strengthening the body’s primary antioxidant systems, this may offer a very beneficial form of free radical protection.
Or to say it another way (yes, please!) – lemon balm protects the liver which in turn strengthens and enhances the body’s own defence systems against cell damage. Cell damage in the brain is also protected resulting in some more of the positive outcomes listed above.
And just in case in the unlikely event you are still awake after both reading all this and drinking your Transformitea Nuit which contains among other things the super triptych of lemon balm, valerian and hops, and you still need a little nudge to the land of nod below is my favourite reference article on lemon balm and you can expand to read more, if you like that kinda thing! Now don’t say we don’t do everything in our power to help you sleeeee….
Balm mint; Blue balm; Garden balm; Honey plant; Melissa officinalis; Sweet balm
© Transformitea 2017
Taavoni, S., Nazem, Ekbatani N., Haghani, H. “Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause.” Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Nov;19(4):193-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.07.002.
Awad R, Levac D, Cybulska P, Merali Z, Trudeau VL, Arnason JT. Effects of traditionally used anxiolytic botanicals on enzymes of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):933-42.
Ballard CG, O’Brien JT, Reichelt K, Perry EK. Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;63(7):553-8.
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de Sousa AC, Alviano DS, Blank AF, Alves PB, Alviano CS, Gattass CR. Melissa officinalis L. essential oil: antitumoral and antioxidant activities. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004;56(5):677-81.
Dos Santos-Neto LL, de Vilhena Toledo MA, Medeiros-Souza P, de Souza GA. The use of herbal medicine in Alzheimer’s disease-a systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Dec;3(4):441-5.
Ernst E. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. Edinburgh: Mosby; 2001:169.
Gaby AR. Natural remedies for Herpes simplex. Altern Med Rev. 2006;11(2):93-101.
Geuenich S, Goffinet C, Venzke S, Nolkemper S, Baumann I, Plinkert P, Reichling J, Keppler OT. Aqueous extracts from peppermint, sage and lemon balm leaves display potent anti-HIV-1 activity by increasing the virion density. Retrovirology. 2008;5:27.
Ghaffariyan S, Mohammadi SA, Aharizad S. DNA isolation protocol for the medicinal plant lemon balm (Melissa ofiicinalis, Lamiaceae). Genet Mol Res. 2012;11(2):1049-57.
Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 4th ed. Montvalie, NJ: Thomson Healthcare; 2007:514-515.
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Hncianu M, Aprotosoaie AC, Gille E, Poiat A, Tuchilu C, Spac A, Stnescu U. Chemical composition and in vitro antimicrobial activity of essential oil Melissa officinalis L. from Romania. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2008;112(3):843-7.
Kennedy DO, Little W, Haskell CF, Scholey AB. Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress. Phytother Res. 2006;20(2):96-102.
Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):607-13.
Kennedy DO, Wake G, Savelev S, et al., Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003;28(10):1871-81.
LaValle JB, Krinsky DL, Hawkins EB, et al. Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide. Hudson, OH: LexiComp; 2000:469.
Madisch A, Melderis H, Mayr G, Sassin I, Hotz J. A plant extract and its modified preparation in functional dyspepsia. Results of a double-blind placebo controlled comparative study. [German]. Z Gastroenterol. 2001;39(7):511-517.
Mantle D, Pickering AT, Perry AK. Medicinal plant extracts for the treatment of dementia: a review of their pharmacology, efficacy and tolerability. CNS Drugs. 2000;13:201-213.
Mazzanti G, Battinelli L, Pompeo C, Serrilli AM, Rossi R, Sauzullo I, et al. Inhibitory activity of Melissa officinalis L. extract on Herpes simplex virus type 2 replication. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(16):1433-40.
Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine. 2006;13(6):383-7.
Nolkemper S, Reichling J, Stintzing FC, Carle R, Schnitzler P. Antiviral Effect of Aqueous Extracts from Species of the Lamiaceae Family against Herpes simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in vitro. Planta Med. 2006;72(15):1378-82.
Patora J, Klimek B. Flavonoids from lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae). Acta Pol Pharm. 2002;59(2):139-43.
Rakel: Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002:249-251.
Schnitzler P, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, Reichling J. Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpes viruses. Phytomedicine. 2008;15(9):734-40.
Taavoni S, Mazem Ekbatani N, Haghani H. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013;19(4):193-6.
Triantaphyllou K, Blekas G, Boskou D. Antioxidative properties of water extracts obtained from herbs of the species Lamiaceae. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2001;52(4):313-317.