Lemon Balm

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) is a herb/tea traditionally said to induce calmness and improve cognition. It does appear effective at inducing calmness and reducing anxiety, but the cognitive enhancing properties are variable (appears to benefit if stressed, but otherwise it is merely sedative).

Lemon Balm is most often used for


Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) is a herb that has traditionally been used for a variety of cognitive purposes, most of which are centered around improving cognition and reducing stress and anxiety. It is said to calm the nerves and to relax the body.

In regards to its subjective cognitive effects, it appears to be effective in inducing calmness. This may also manifest itself in a negative manner as healthy persons who take Lemon Balm prior to a cognitive test appear to score worse than placebo on reaction time and memory formation (possibly related to sedation) while improving the quality of memories (amount of correct memories formed, rather than 'remembering' something that didn't happen). Only one study looked at contentment, but found no influence.

Theoretically, calmness inducing agents should also help in sleep. We currently have one study suggesting that the anxiety-reducing properties can help people who have anxiety-related insomnia but beyond that most sleep research is confounded with Valerian as the two are theoretically (not yet demonstrated) additive or synergistic.

Overall, the cognitive enhancing properties of Lemon Balm appear to be somewhat overhyped. It has been shown to enhance the memory quality yet (possibly due to its sedative effects) it reduces quantititatively how many memories are formed and the rate thereof.

Currently, Lemon Balm appears to be supported for inducing calmness and relaxation but other claims may need more research.

What else is Lemon Balm known as?
Note that Lemon Balm is also known as:
  • Lemon Balm
  • Melissengeist
  • Bee Balm
  • Garden Balm
  • Melissa
  • Erva-cidreira
  • Melissa Officinalis
Lemon Balm should not be confused with:
  • Limonene (sometimes called Lemon extract)
Dosage information

The lowest active supplemental dose appears to be 300mg, and supplementation above this dose appears to confer dose-dependent effects although it is not very reliable (ie. one study says that 1200mg gives thrice as much benefit as 300mg while another suggests 1.4x benefit)

Lemon Balm bioactives may also be consumed via tea or acquired via aromatherapy, although it is much harder to quantify 'the right dose' via these two methods.

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1.^Ghaffariyan S, Mohammadi SA, Aharizad SDNA isolation protocol for the medicinal plant lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae)Genet Mol Res.(2012 Apr 27)
2.^Bayat M, Azami Tameh A, Hossein Ghahremani M, Akbari M, Mehr SE, Khanavi M, Hassanzadeh GNeuroprotective properties of Melissa officinalis after hypoxic-ischemic injury both in vitro and in vivoDaru.(2012 Oct 3)
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6.^de Carvalho NC, Corrêa-Angeloni MJ, Leffa DD, Moreira J, Nicolau V, de Aguiar Amaral P, Rossatto AE, de Andrade VMEvaluation of the genotoxic and antigenotoxic potential of Melissa officinalis in miceGenet Mol Biol.(2011 Apr)
8.^Barros L, Dueñas M, Dias MI, Sousa MJ, Santos-Buelga C, Ferreira ICPhenolic profiles of cultivated, in vitro cultured and commercial samples of Melissa officinalis L. infusionsFood Chem.(2013 Jan 1)
9.^Sanchez-Medina A, Etheridge CJ, Hawkes GE, Hylands PJ, Pendry BA, Hughes MJ, Corcoran OComparison of rosmarinic acid content in commercial tinctures produced from fresh and dried lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)J Pharm Pharm Sci.(2007)
14.^Patora J, Klimek BFlavonoids from lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae)Acta Pol Pharm.(2002 Mar-Apr)
15.^Heitz A, Carnat A, Fraisse D, Carnat AP, Lamaison JLLuteolin 3'-glucuronide, the major flavonoid from Melissa officinalis subsp. officinalisFitoterapia.(2000 Apr)
19.^Pereira RP, Fachinetto R, de Souza Prestes A, Puntel RL, Santos da Silva GN, Heinzmann BM, Boschetti TK, Athayde ML, Bürger ME, Morel AF, Morsch VM, Rocha JBAntioxidant effects of different extracts from Melissa officinalis, Matricaria recutita and Cymbopogon citratusNeurochem Res.(2009 May)
27.^Taiwo AE, Leite FB, Lucena GM, Barros M, Silveira D, Silva MV, Ferreira VMAnxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) extract in rats: Influence of administration and genderIndian J Pharmacol.(2012 Mar)
33.^Wake G, Court J, Pickering A, Lewis R, Wilkins R, Perry ECNS acetylcholine receptor activity in European medicinal plants traditionally used to improve failing memoryJ Ethnopharmacol.(2000 Feb)
34.^Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KAModulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)Pharmacol Biochem Behav.(2002 Jul)
36.^Guginski G, Luiz AP, Silva MD, Massaro M, Martins DF, Chaves J, Mattos RW, Silveira D, Ferreira VM, Calixto JB, Santos ARMechanisms involved in the antinociception caused by ethanolic extract obtained from the leaves of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) in micePharmacol Biochem Behav.(2009 Jul)
37.^Mazzanti G, Battinelli L, Pompeo C, Serrilli AM, Rossi R, Sauzullo I, Mengoni F, Vullo VInhibitory activity of Melissa officinalis L. extract on Herpes simplex virus type 2 replicationNat Prod Res.(2008)
38.^Zeraatpishe A, Oryan S, Bagheri MH, Pilevarian AA, Malekirad AA, Baeeri M, Abdollahi MEffects of Melissa officinalis L. on oxidative status and DNA damage in subjects exposed to long-term low-dose ionizing radiationToxicol Ind Health.(2011 Apr)
39.^Encalada MA, Hoyos KM, Rehecho S, Berasategi I, de Ciriano MG, Ansorena D, Astiasarán I, Navarro-Blasco I, Cavero RY, Calvo MIAnti-proliferative effect of Melissa officinalis on human colon cancer cell linePlant Foods Hum Nutr.(2011 Nov)
40.^Awad R, Levac D, Cybulska P, Merali Z, Trudeau VL, Arnason JTEffects of traditionally used anxiolytic botanicals on enzymes of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) systemCan J Physiol Pharmacol.(2007 Sep)