Lemon balm is a common garden herb, with some uncommon abilities. Lemon balm contributes to significantly reduced stress levels. It counteracts negative moods, promotes calmness, and reduces oxidative related brain cell degeneration. Lemon balm is effective at reducing accumulation of the harmful amyloid-beta, a protein, which is considered a leading contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon balm is a perennial herb in the mint family. It is a plant native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean and to northern Africa. It has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Lemon balm has been in use throughout history as a healing herb. The Arabs introduced it as a medicinal herb, using it in a tea for anxiety and depression. In early Greece it was used for scorpion stings, insect and dog bites. Today, it is used in France as a remedy for fatigue.
The leaves have a soft lemon sent and in the summer it blooms small white flowers full of nectar. It is an easy plant to cultivate, growing well in sunny areas while being quite shade-tolerant. Lemon balm is grown indoors as a potted herb.
Lemon balm is used in ice cream and herbal teas as a flavoring. You also can find it in fruit dishes, candies, pesto, poultry, lamb and fish dishes. It is also used as a preservative in meat dishes. Many dishes are garnished with chopped fresh leaves. It has a subtle lemon flavor, which works well in many recipes.
Lemon balm leaves have many uses. The leaves are used as a mosquito repellent. It is used as a herbal tea or extract for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has demonstrated to be effective against herpes simplex.
Lemon balm chief components rosmarinic acid, quercetin, gallic acid, and rutin are potent antioxidants. These protect brain cells and other tissues from reactive, oxygen species (ROS). Lemon balm tea is used to protect radiology technicians from the oxidizing effects of chronic exposure to low levels of radiation.
What it is most known for its ability to induce sleep and is considered a mild sedative. Lemon balm tea is used to calm colds and flu symptom. It is considered a carminative herb and is used to relieve spasm in the digestive tract. It is reduces dyspepsia associated with anxiety or depression, because of its sedative properties.
The volatile oils appear to help the nervous system.
Anxiety is associated with tension, and as such lemon balm is used for migraines that are associated with tension. Lemon balm and its chief component rosmarinic acid boost levels of GABA in the brain. This elevated GABA levels reduce the level of anxiety. Increasing brain GABA activity is the way which prescription anti-anxiety drugs work.
GABA is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Excitement in the brain needs to be balance with inhibition. Excitement can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia and anxiety. GABA is responsible for providing a soothing stress-relieving effect. This neurotransmitter is made in the brain from the amino acid glutamate with the help of vitamin B6. Many people are GABA deficient and look for products to help them relax.
Animal studies have revealed the powerful anxiety and stress reducing effects of lemon balm. Mice demonstrated significantly reduced anxiety in maze experiments when they were given lemon balm extract. Mice conditioned to experience chronic fear showed significantly reduced stress response and more appropriate behavior when given lemon balm.
Human studies of lemon balm in treatment of agitation in Alzheimer’s patients have been encouraging. Research studies of lemon balm are compelling. There were a series of trials conducted in the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at the University of North Umbria in the United Kingdom, which showed lemon balm produced an increase in self-rated calmness in a group of healthy adults.
The researchers also evaluated lemon balm in a different setting, where the subjects were deliberately stressed in the laboratory. They gave one group of healthy volunteers’ low doses of lemon balm and another group a placebo then subjected them to the Defined Intensity stressors Simulation, a battery of challenges designed to impose stress. Calmness was produced in the lemon balm group.
Lemon balm may add flavor to your food, while adding zest to your life.