Lemon balm Health Benefits
[nutritional values]
The health benefits of lemon balm have been known for many years in
Europe, especially its soothing effects on the stomach. Lemon balm eases
pain and discomfort associated with digestion, including gas and bloating. It
has also been used traditionally as an herbal medicine for memory-
enhancement, but which is currently more widely used as a mild sedative and
sleep aid.

Lemon balm grows everywhere in the world, though its origin is Europe. The
plant is two feet high with deeply wrinkled dark green leaves. And, herbal
preparations are often made of these leaves. The leaves contain rosmarinic,
caffeic, protocatechuic acids, phenolic compounds, flavonoids and these
chemicals may contribute the major portion of the herb's beneficial effects
[9, 12].


Oxidative damage is related to the development of chronic diseases such as
age-related neurodegeneration, carcinogenesis and atherosclerosis.
Antioxidants help lower the risk of these diseases. Blomhoff R from
Universitetet i Oslo, Norway, suggested that lemon balm is a good source of
antioxidants. [1] In a study, lemon balm at a concentration of 1.5 % w/w
was found to increase the antioxidant capacity of a salad portion by 150 %.
[2] On the other hand, lemon balm oil extracts were found to possesse
antioxidant activity, as it reduced 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) in a
vitro testing. [3]

An in-vitro cytotoxicity assay using MTT indicated that lemon balm oil
extracts were very effective against a series of human cancer cell lines
(A549, MCF-7, Caco-2, HL-60, K562) and a mouse cell line (B16F10). Thus,
lemon balm may have benefits on lowering the risk of certain cancers. [3]

Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) is contemporaneously used as a mild sedative
and/or calming agent. [7]

Hyperactivity is a very common disorder in children and it has three major
characteristics- Impulsivity, Distraction, and Hyperactivity. Researcher at
Universitat de Barcelona has proposed to use lemon balm as an aid in the
treatment of this disorder. [5] In a randomized double blind, placebo
controlled trial, German researchers dosed 16 healthy volunteers with a
lozenge containing 4 different herbal preparations (lavender oil, extracts
from hops, lemon balm and oat) or a matching placebo without any active
ingredients. They observed that the subjects had a better cope with
psychological and emotional stress after taking this lozenge based on their
electrical brain activities. [6]

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, balanced crossover
experiment, 18 healthy volunteers received two separate single doses of a
standardized M. officinalis extract (300 mg, 600 mg) and a placebo, on
separate days. The results showed that the 600-mg dose of Melissa
ameliorated the negative mood effects of the Defined Intensity Stressor
Simulation, with significantly increased self-ratings of calmness and reduced
self-ratings of alertness. In addition, a significant increase in the speed of
mathematical processing, with no reduction in accuracy, was observed after
ingestion of the 300-mg dose. [7]

British researchers found that high dose of encapsulated dried lemon balm
leaf improved memory performance and “calmness” significantly. [11, 13]

German researchers prepared a special supplement containing extracts from
bitter candytuft, matricaria flower, peppermint leaves, caraway, licorice root
and lemon balm for the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia.
They dosed 120 patients suffered from functional dyspepsia with this
preparation at 4 different dosage patterns. They found that patients with
functional dyspepsia improved dyspeptic symptoms significantly better than
those taking placebo. [4,10]

The analysis of the oil composition of various cultivations of lemon balms in
Poland using GC/MS indicates the variations of the oil contents from
cultivations to cultivations. [8]


[1] Blomhoff R Antioxidants and oxidative stress Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2004 Jun 17;124(12):1643-5. [2] Ninfali P
et al, Antioxidant capacity of vegetables, spices and dressings relevant to nutrition. Br J Nutr. 2005
Feb;93(2):257-66. [3] de Sousa AC et al Melissa officinalis L. essential oil: antitumoral and antioxidant activities. J
Pharm Pharmacol. 2004 May;56(5):677-81. [4] Madisch A et al, A plant extract and its modified preparation in
functional dyspepsia. Results of a double-blind placebo controlled comparative study Z Gastroenterol. 2001
Jul;39(7):511-7. [5] Berdonces JL, Attention deficit and infantile hyperactivity, Rev Enferm. 2001 Jan;24(1):11-4. [6]
Dimpfel W et al, 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. [7] Kennedy DO, Attenuation of laboratory-induced
stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004
Jul-Aug;66(4):607-13. [8] Patora J et al, Variability in the content and composition of essential oil from lemon balm
(Melissa officinalis L.) cultivated in Poland. Acta Pol Pharm. 2003 Sep-Oct;60(5):395-400. [9] Ziakova A Matrix
solid-phase dispersion for the liquid chromatographic determination of phenolic acids in Melissa officinalis. J
Chromatogr A. 2003 Jan 3;983(1-2):271-5. [10]. Madisch A Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal
preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion. 2004;69(1):45-52. Epub
2004 Jan 30. [11] Kennedy DO et al, Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration
of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon palm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding
properties. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Oct;28(10):1871-81.  [12] Patora J et al, Flavonoids from lemon balm
(Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae). Acta Pol Pharm. 2002 Mar-Apr;59(2):139-43. [13] Kennedy DO Modulation of
mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Pharmacol
Biochem Behav. 2002 Jul;72(4):953-64.

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