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Lemon balm: benefits and uses

You may have heard of this herbal remedy, but do you know where it comes from and what its potential uses are? Here we take a look at everything you need to know about lemon balm.

First of all, what is lemon balm?

Despite its name, lemon balm is actually a type of herb that’s closely related to mint. Its scent is similar to lemons, which is why it shares a name with the citrus fruit. You’ll find it’s native to numerous countries within Europe, North Africa and the west of Asia1.

What are the health benefits of lemon balm?

When it comes to lemon balm’s benefits, this unique herb is thought to:2

  • Help cognitive and mental health

Some research has shown that lemon balm can help maintain positive mood and support your cognitive function. It’s thought this is down to the presence of rosmarinic acid, a type of antioxidant which increases the number of neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for sending signals around the body) available in the brain.

  • Help you sleep

When mixed with valerian root (particularly in tea), lemon balm has been shown to help maintain healthy and restful sleep.

  • Promote good digestion

Due to certain compounds which are naturally found in lemon balm (including citral and linalool), the herb contributes to health digestion and is thought to help with symptoms of tummy upset and other gastrointestinal discomfort.

Three lemon balm uses3

  1. Brew some lemon balm and valerian tea to promote relaxation and restful sleep.
  2. Take lemon balm in capsule form to manage your digestive troubles and support your cognitive function.
  3. Add fresh lemon balm to cooking, whether that’s in a marinade or as part of a dessert, to boost flavour and support healthy digestion.

Is there anyone who should avoid using lemon balm?

While lemon balm is generally thought to be safe, there are a handful of people who should be wary about using it. For instance, young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women may want to exercise caution.4

If you’re taking any medications, particularly for thyroid conditions or glaucoma, you should speak to your doctor first as lemon balm could alter their effectiveness.

Last updated: 4 May 2020


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