The herb Melissa officinalis, also known as lemon balm, has a lemon fragrance and is related to the mint family. Although it is grown all over the world, the plant is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia.
Anxiety is a commonplace term that can be difficult to define due to there being two contrasting types of anxiety: normal and abnormal. While normal anxiety is a typical and even healthy experience (think back to the nerves you felt before your first kiss), disproportionate levels of anxiety alter your coping mechanisms, resulting in physical symptoms and changes (increased blood pressure, sweating, dizziness). Through this interference, anxiety disorders emanate, now affecting more than 40 million North Americans.
Although mood and cognitive function have historically been enhanced by lemon balm, there may be additional advantages. Continue reading to find out more about this plant’s potential medicinal uses.
Thankfully, there are numerous plants that have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. We have taken a closer look at a couple of our favourite natural remedies:
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a perennial that has been historically steeped in wine. Ancient use has led to lemon balm transforming into a multi-use herb known for treating bites and stings, attracting pollinators and intensifying essential oils. As an herbaceous mood modulator, using Lemon Balm results in improvements in cognitive function, increased calmness, and a decline in agitation, irritability and restlessness.
Lemon balm produces the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain, decreasing activity in the nervous system. When GABA attaches to receptors in the brain, signals are sent to initiate and suppress movement. There is a calming effect on the body as the muscular system relaxes. GABA has been found to have mood-stabilizing properties as well, which is what makes lemon balm an effective, holistic (whole-body) remedy for anti-anxiety.
Due to this calming effect, lemon balm has the power to restore sleep, which directly corresponds with anxiety. It also has the ability to significantly subside insomnia symptoms. At higher doses, it is found to be a mild sedative.
Terpenes are organic compounds found in lemon balm which are used as anti-inflammatories and analgesics, affecting neurotransmitters in the brain similarly to antidepressants. Lemon balm also contains tannins which are known to lower blood pressure and modulate immune response. Eugenol is another key proponent in lemon balm, acting as a natural anaesthetic and aiding in pain.
Due to lemon balm’s ability to stimulate relaxation, a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that participants suffering from anxiety and insomnia who received lemon balm extract twice daily reduced their state of anxiety by 49% and reduced their anxiety-associated symptoms by 72%.
Another study evaluated anxiolytic effects with lemon balm administered in different consumable forms. The results of lemon balm are associated with behavioural improvements, reduced depressive-relief, as well as positive self-rated measurements of mood.
Benefits of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has antiviral, antimicrobial effects and effectively protects the body from unhealthy levels of oxidative stress through antioxidants (which limit the damage caused by free radicals). It lowers high triglycerides, regulates overactive thyroids, and protects the heart and liver from disease. As an essential oil, it has caused apoptosis (spontaneous death of cells) in cancer cells, specifically glioblastoma, the most aggressive cancer in the brain, one that is highly difficult to treat. With neuroprotective properties, its cognitive enhancement offers exciting data regarding progressive dementia and memory loss.
1. Helps in Relieving Stress
Lemon balm might make you less stressed. One short study looked at how lemon balm-infused foods affected stress and mood.
Participants consumed lemon balm in beverages and yogurts throughout the research. The next step was a stress test that required them to multitask and do a mock speech in front of an audience.
Researchers concluded that using lemon balm in specific doses and ways could help people feel less stressed, depressed, or anxious.
2. Aids Better Sleep
An earlier study suggested that combining lemon balm and valerian could cure children’s sleep issues and restlessness.
More than 900 kids participated in the study, which discovered that more than 80% of them improved their sleep issues after taking the supplements.
Additionally, 70% of the kids reported reduced restlessness. Last but not least, none of the kids had any adverse side effects from the drug.
3. Reduce Anxiety
Additionally, lemon balm may be used to lessen the signs of anxiety, such as jitters and excitement.
The effects of diets containing lemon balm on mood and cognition were studied in 2014 research. Yogurt and a beverage containing the supplement were combined with either natural or artificial sweeteners. Reduced anxiety levels were among the favorable effects on mood that participants in both groups reported.
4. Improve Cognitive Function
The effects of lemon balm on enhancing cognitive performance were also examined in the same 2014 study.
Cognitive exercises requiring memory, numeracy, and focus were given to the participants. According to the outcomes of these computerized tests, individuals who consumed lemon balm outperformed those who did not.
Even while the levels of alertness and performance among these participants did increase, weariness may eventually set in. Lemon balm’s rate of absorption changes when it is combined with food, which may have affected how effective it was.
5. Helps with Insomnia
Lemon balm and valerian together may help treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Before going to bed, brew a cup of tea with valerian and lemon balm. At your neighborhood grocery shop or online, you can discover alternatives that are loose-leaf or bagged.
There may be some possible uses and health advantages for lemon balm. These qualities can include easing stress, easing PMS symptoms, lowering gastrointestinal discomfort, and even battling some illnesses.
Before attempting any new herbal medicines, people should use caution, especially if they are pregnant or have a medical condition. They should also consult a doctor.
The naturopathic approach to anxiety is simple when plants offer alternatives with multifaceted benefits. Rich foods, herbs and vitamins all enhance healing and can provide a complementary route to optimal health. There is a current shift in medicine with more and more people opting for natural resources, an inspiring contagion. The utilization of plants can be a powerful experience.
If you are interested in learning how to incorporate the power of plants in your life, you can read Alyssa’s story about how she manages her chronic pain naturally.
*While herbal medicine acts on the same pathways as pharmaceuticals, it is still important to converse with a qualified health practitioner about the safety, dosage, quality and effectiveness of your preferred herbs.