What are the uses of lemon balm?

                          lemon balm leaves

Lemon balm has a long history in traditional medicine. It has been used to promote positive mood and relaxation, settle the stomach and stimulate the mind.

A popular herb of the mint family, lemon balm has been a staple of traditional European medicine. Today, researchers have verified its usefulness for a number of applications with in vitro and human studies.

Cognitive uses

Lemon balm contains rosmarinic acid and other chemical compounds that affect the brain in a number of ways:

  • It influences neurotransmitters that modulate mood and emotion.
  • It acts on the hippocampus, enhancing memory.
  • It activates muscarinic M1 receptors, which are responsible for efficient flow of information between neurological cells.
  • It increases alertness and boosts mental performance.


Lemon balm is commonly used to aid digestion. It may also be used to:

  • soothe an upset tummy (dyspepsia) and help with stomach cramps, acid reflux, vomiting and nausea;
  • deal with bloating and excess gas;
  • treat the symptoms of IBS;
  • soothe an inflamed colon (colitis) and improve bowel function.


  • Lemon balm has been suggested as a treatment for aches and pains, including menstrual cramps.
  • A lip balm made with lemon balm can be used to treat cold sores (herpes labialis), reducing spread and lessening symptoms.
  • Skin conditions including sores and acne can be treated with lemon balm.
  • Some people also use it for insect bites and as a mosquito repellent.


Following traditional ideas about lemon balm, many people use the herb for calmness and relaxation, and to help with:

  • trouble sleeping (insomnia),
  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • restlessness,
  • low mood.

Studies have shown that lemon balm reduces cortisol, a marker for stress.