What are the uses of lemon balm?
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.
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),
- low mood.
Studies have shown that lemon balm reduces cortisol, a marker for stress.