Lemon balm: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Lemon balm: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Lemon balm originally comes from the eastern Mediterranean (Asia Minor and the Balkans) and western Asia. The plant is also common in some parts of Germany (Thuringia, Franconia, Saxony-Anhalt, southern Germany), Spain and southern France. Lemon balm is grown in Eastern Europe.

The dried leaves (Melissae folium) and the essential oil from them (Melissae aetheroleum) are used in herbal medicine.

Characteristics of lemon balm

Melissa is a lemon-scented perennial perennial that grows to about 70 cm tall. The distinctly hairy plant bears stalked, rounded leaves crossed and arranged oppositely on the stem. The leaf veins stand out clearly on the underside of the leaves; the leaf margin is serrated.

The leaf axils have several purple or white flowers about 1 cm in size with a two-lipped calyx.


Lemon balm leaves as medicine

The drug material consists of lemon balm leaves with more or less long stalks, which are oval, round or heart-shaped. The somewhat wrinkled leaves are dark green and sparsely hairy on top, lighter on the underside and hairless; the leaf veins are also clearly visible on the underside.

The smell and taste of lemon balm

The dried leaves of lemon balm also spread a particular, spicy-aromatic smell reminiscent of lemons. However, the odour is very faint, especially after the drug has been stored for a long time. Even with the fresh leaves, it is often only noticeable after the leaves have been crushed.

The taste of lemon balm is pleasantly spicy.

Lemon balm – application

Lemon balm has a calming effect on the body – on the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and the digestive system. Lemon balm is therefore taken in combination with valerian or alone for restlessness, nervousness, mild insomnia and problems falling asleep due to nervousness.

Lemon balm for the gastrointestinal tract

In adults and children, the plant is also used to treat functional gastrointestinal complaints such as flatulence, cramps, nausea, and loss of appetite.


Application against bacteria, fungi and viruses

Dry extracts from lemon balm leaves also show activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. For example, when applied externally as an ointment or cream, the leaves can also relieve the symptoms of a herpes infection.

The leaves are traditionally used to improve general well-being during nervous stress and support cardiovascular function.

Melissa in folk medicine

Lemon balm has been used in folk medicine since the 15th century as a sedative, digestive, flatulent and antispasmodic for various digestive problems.

The common name “feverfew” is based on the fact that the plant was also widely used in gynecology in the Middle Ages, for example for abdominal problems. In modern folk medicine, the plant is also used as a diaphoretic and strengthening agent for colds, circulatory weakness, nervous palpitations, and migraines , melancholy and hysteria.


Use in aromatherapy

In aromatherapy, the calming effect of lemon balm oil is primarily used for restlessness and insomnia. Lemon balm is also used to flavor drinks and desserts.

Application in homeopathy

In homeopathy, fresh lemon balm leaves are taken for menstrual disorders.

Ingredients of lemon balm

Malissa leaves contain at least 0.05% essential oil and specific varieties even contain up to 0.8%. The main components of the oil are the so-called citral, a 4:3 mixture of geranial and neral, and citronellal. Citral and citronellal are responsible for the intense smell of lemon .

The drug also contains tannins such as rosmarinic acid, triterpenic acids, flavonoids and phenylcarboxylic acids. Aqueous extracts from the leaves contain the highest content of rosmarinic acid of all mint plants.


Melissa: For what indication?

Lemon balm is used medicinally in the following cases:

  • mild sleep disorders
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • cramps
  • nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Herpes

Melissa – Dosage

Lemon balm leaves are contained in numerous tea blends and as dry or fluid extracts in various mono or combination preparations. In gastrointestinal teas, the plant is often combined with chamomile or peppermint, and in sleep and nerve teas with valerian, hops or St. John’s wort.

Other dosage forms of lemon balm

Among herbal medicines, tranquilizers (sedatives), antispasmodics (spasmolytics) and flu remedies often contain lemon balm leaf extracts. These preparations are available in many dosage forms, for example as drops or tablets.

Melissa can be purchased as a cream for use on the skin for herpes infections.


Melissa: the daily dose

Depending on your needs, you can drink a cup of lemon balm tea (containing 1.5-4 g of the leaves) several times a day.

Preparation of lemon balm as a tea

To prepare lemon balm tea, pour boiling water over 1.5-4 g of the finely chopped leaves (1 teaspoon corresponds to approximately 1 g) and strain after 5-10 minutes. The tea can be drunk several times a day, depending on the intensity of the symptoms.


When should you not use lemon balm?

There are currently no known interactions with other products or contraindications for lemon balm leaves.

If you suffer from a thyroid disease that requires treatment, you may want to consult a doctor before taking lemon balm.

Notes on the use of lemon balm

To successfully treat the symptoms of herpes infections, it is essential to apply the ointment immediately after the first symptoms appear. The ointment should then be applied 3-4 times daily.

Lemon balm leaves should be stored dry, cool and protected from light.

Melissa – Synonyms

German plant name: Melissa

German synonyms of the plant: Lemon balm, lemon balm, garden balm, garden balm, citronella, citronella, bee catching, bee sucking, English nettle, hare’s ear, heart bread, heart consolation, honey flower, motherwort, nervous herb, smelling nettle, salad herbs, Spanish sage

Latin plant name: Melissa officinalis L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Melissa graveolens.

German drug name: Melissa leaves

German synonyms of the drug: Ladywort, heartworm, lemon herb, between, intestinal gout herb, ivory leaf, lime herb, feverfew, chanterelle herb, bedbug herb, toothache herb, lemon herb

Latin drug name: Melissa leaf

Latin synonyms of the drug: Lemon balm leaves, citronella leaves, lemon balm leaves, citronella leaves

English name: Balm, Lemon Balm, Common Balm, Bee Balm, Sweet Balm, Melissa, Cure-all, Heart’s Delight, The de France

Plant family Latin: Lamiaceae

Plant family German: Mint family


Melissa – effect

The essential oil of lemon balm leaves has a calming and antispasmodic effect. The appetite-increasing effect of the drug is achieved via the bitter substances, which stimulate the production of stomach and bile juice.

The antiviral properties are attributed, among other things, to flavonoids. In addition, rosmarinic acid probably binds to specific virus proteins on the cell surface, preventing the virus components from being absorbed into the cell.

According to observations, aqueous extracts from lemon balm leaves also show anti-hormonal effects and an inhibitory effect on the thyroid.

Melissa: Interactions and side effects

When taking lemon balm preparations properly, side effects are not expected. Only at extremely high concentrations can the ability to react theoretically decrease, and thus, the ability to actively participate in traffic or to operate machines be impaired.

No known interactions with other agents or contraindications exist for lemon balm leaves.

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