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LEMON BALM

Other Names:

Balm, Bálsamo de Limón, Cure-All, Dropsy Plant, Honey Plant, Melisa, Melissa, Melissa officinalis, Melissae Folium, Mélisse, Mélisse Citronnelle, Mélisse Officinale, Melissenblatt, Monarde, Sweet Balm, Sweet Mary, Toronjil.

LEMON BALM Overview
LEMON BALM Uses
LEMON BALM Side Effects
LEMON BALM Interactions
LEMON BALM Dosing
LEMON BALM Overview Information

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine. Lemon balm is used alone or as part of various multi-herb combination products.

Lemon balm is used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic; for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache; and for mental disorders, including hysteria and melancholia.

Many people believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness. Lemon balm is also used for Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid (Graves' disease), swollen airways, rapid heartbeat due to nervousness, high blood pressure, sores, tumors, and insect bites.

Lemon balm is inhaled as aromatherapy for Alzheimer's disease.

Some people apply lemon balm to their skin to treat cold sores (herpes labialis).

In foods and beverages, the extract and oil of lemon balm are used for flavoring.

How does it work?

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

LEMON BALM Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Alzheimer's disease. Taking a standardized extract of lemon balm by mouth daily for 4 months seems to reduce agitation and improve symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
  • Cold sores. Applying a lip balm containing 1% lemon balm extract seems to shorten healing time, prevent infection spread, and reduce symptoms of recurring cold sores.
  • Colic in breast-fed infants. A clinical trial shows that breast-fed infants with colic who are given a specific multi-ingredient product containing fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile (Colimil) twice daily for a week cry for a shorter period of time than other breast-fed infants with colic.
  • Upset stomach (dyspepsia), when a specific combination of lemon balm and peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, clown's mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and milk thistle (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) is used. This combination seems to improve acid reflux (GERD), stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Improving the quality of sleep, when taken with valerian.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Restlessness (dyssomnia). Early evidence suggests that 1-2 tablets once or twice daily of a specific combination product providing 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract and 160 mg of valerian root extract (Euvegal forte, Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) might decrease symptoms in children under age 12 whose restlessness is so extreme that it needs medical attention.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Stomach and intestinal discomfort with bloating and gas.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sleeping disorders.
  • Spasms.
  • A thyroid condition called Graves' disease.
  • Promoting menstrual flow.
  • Female discomforts.
  • Cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Toothache.
  • Sores.
  • Tumors.
  • Insect bites.
  • Nervous stomach.
  • Hysteria.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of lemon balm for these uses.


LEMON BALM Side Effects & Safety

Lemon balm is LIKELY SAFE when used in food amounts. It’s POSSIBLY SAFE in adults when used in medicinal amounts short-term. It’s been used safely in research for up to four months. Not enough is known about the safety of lemon balm when used long-term.

Some information suggests that lemon balm might be safe when taken in appropriate amounts by infants for up to a week and by older children under age 12 for up to one month.

When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.

When applied to the skin, there is one report of irritation and one report of increased cold sore symptoms.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

LEMON BALM Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with LEMON BALM

    Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking lemon balm along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

    Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.


LEMON BALM Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: 60 drops per day of a standardized lemon balm extract, prepared 1:1 in 45% alcohol.
  • For improving sleep in healthy adults: a specific combination product providing 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract and 160 mg of valerian root extract (Euvegal forte, Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) 3 times daily for up to 30 days has been used. This same combination product, given once or twice daily, has been used for improving sleep in children.
  • For upset stomach (dyspepsia): a specific combination product containing lemon balm (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) and several other herbs has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily over a period of 4 weeks. The combination includes lemon balm plus peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, clown's mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and milk thistle.
  • For colic in breast-fed infants: a specific multi-ingredient product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (Colimil) twice daily for a week.
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For cold sores (herpes labialis): the cream or ointment containing 1% of a 70:1 freeze-dried water-soluble extract is usually applied two to four times daily from first sign of symptoms to a few days after the cold sores have healed.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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