Lemon Balm’s scientific name is Melissa officinalis, which is derived from the Greek word Melissa, meaning honeybee. In Ancient Greece it was planted and used by the beekeepers of the Temple of Artemis to help keep the sacred honeybees content.
Commonly referred to as lemon balm, due to its fresh, lemony scent, it has been used for over 2000 years as both a culinary and medicinal plant due to its ability to aid in improving digestion and to calm frazzled nerves.
Lemon Balm is what’s known as a “carminative herb”, meaning it can relieve stagnant digestion, ease abdominal cramping, and promote the overall digestive process. The volatile oils in lemon balm contain chemicals known as “terpenes” that relax muscles and relieve symptoms such as excess gas.1
Sweeter than honey, Lemon Balm also helps to soothe stress and boost your mood, but without the typical zombie feeling of some other sedatives. In one study researchers found that lemon balm helped subjects to feel relaxed, but that the same time there were also increases in the brain wave activity associated with attention, suggesting that lemon balm helped them cope with psychological and emotional stress—without loss of cocentration.2
Another study measuring attention and cognitive performance showed that the subjects all showed sustained improvement in their accuracy of attention after taking lemon balm, as well as reductions in memory problems. Subjects also rated their calmness as higher, even shortly after the dose of lemon balm.3
Compelling evidence that lemon balm is a great way to stay cool, calm and attentive.
- Gasbarrini G, Zaccone V, Covino M, Gallo A. Effectiveness of a “cold dessert”, with or without the addition of a mixture of digestive herbs, in subjects with “functional dyspepsia”. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2010 Jan-Mar;24(1):93-8.
- Dimpfel W, Pischel I, Lehnfeld R. Effects of lozenge containing lavender oil, extracts from hops, lemon balm and oat on electrical brain activity of volunteers. Eur J Med Res. 2004 Sep 29;9(9):423-31.
- Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Jul;72(4):953-64.