benefits or lemon balm

12 Amazing Benefits Of Lemon Balm You Need to Know

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benefits or lemon balm

Lemon balm (Mellissa officinalis)  is one of my favorite herbs to grow in the garden. It hails from the mint family and seems to be able to grow in most environments with relative ease. I personally love all of the health benefits of lemon balm, but I also love it for its ability to attract bees and other beneficial pollinators to the garden.  An added bonus is that its strong, citrusy scent deters several unwelcome pests, including gnats and mosquitoes. 

So even though I focus my gardening efforts on native medicinal plants, I believe the benefits of lemon balm to be too significant to dismiss.  It is definitely a useful addition to both pollinator gardens and medicinal herb gardens.

What is lemon balm?

Lemon balm is a fragrant herb that’s native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it can be found naturalized in many other places around the world. People have been using it as medicine for thousands of years. Modern research suggests that lemon balm may improve your mood, immune system, and digestive health, among many other benefits.

Lemon Balm Lore & Legend

 In classical times, lemon balm was used by both the Greeks and Romans to relieve anxiety and treat snake bites. The Arabs also used it to strengthen the heart. Shakespeare knew that lemon balm had healing properties. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, he referred to it as a strewing herb, something you’d throw on the floor before a party so that the aroma would make guests merrier.

The Doctrine of Signatures, a medieval way of treating illness with herbs, holds that a plant’s appearance reveals its healing properties. Lemon balm, with its heart-shaped leaves, was believed to aid heart health. Amazingly enough, current research proves this to be true!


benefits or lemon balm

The Many Benefits of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is one of the most versatile herbs out there. Not only can it help you chill out, but it provides a multitude of benefits that can improve your overall health. Continue reading to learn about all of the wonderful health benefits of lemon balm.

1. Calms and relaxes

One of the most talked-about benefits of lemon balm is its ability to calm and relax.

Lemon balm is a great way to calm down at the end of a stressful day, or if you need to relax before bed. I love using lemon balm as a sleep aid because it helps me to clear my mind and feel more relaxed when I go to sleep.  A 2004 study found that taking lemon balm eased the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm self-reported an increased sense of calmness and reduced feelings of alertness

2. Improves sleep quality

One of the most significant benefits of lemon balm is in its ability to affect sleep. Lemon balm is believed to help you sleep by acting directly on GABA receptors in the brain, according to a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. The herb stimulates the production of serotonin while delivering a mild sedative effect.

3. For Helping cold sores

 Lemon balm is often valued in herbal traditions for its supportive properties, and it is commonly used to address skin and lip discomforts. Many people use lemon balm cream for cold sores, appreciating its antioxidant qualities. Additionally, lemon balm is generally considered safe for topical and oral use

4. Works as an antioxidant

 Lemon balm has antioxidant properties. These antioxidant compounds include flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenes, and rosmarinic acid. These compounds may help prevent cell damage by strengthening the cells’ natural defenses against free radicals.

5. Can reduce blood pressure

 A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 49 people with high blood pressure found that taking lemon balm three times daily over a four-week period produced a 10% decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A meta-analysis showed that lemon balm intake is associated with reduced blood pressure levels. Studies in animals show that taking lemon balm can help reduce blood pressure. Source

benefits or lemon balm

6. Help for PMS

According to the National Institute of Health, lemon balm can help reduce symptoms associated with PMS such as irritability, mood swings, and tender breasts by decreasing the amount of estrogen present in your body (estrogen is responsible for all those annoying symptoms). Source

7. Is good for skin

In addition to soothing chapped lips or dry skin patches, lemon balm has been traditionally applied to cuts or scrapes on the skin. It is often used on areas like cracked heels, nail beds, or cuticles. Many people appreciate its natural properties and believe it can help keep these areas clean and well-cared for.

8. Can aid digestion

Lemon balm is often enjoyed in herbal traditions for its soothing effects on the digestive system. Many people find that it can help with occasional discomforts such as heartburn, nausea, belching, flatulence, and abdominal pain. Some believe that lemon balm’s calming properties may support the relaxation of smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to a sense of overall digestive well-being.

9. May reduce menopausal symptoms

Menopause can often lead to sleep disruptions, including hot flushes and sweating. Lemon balm is traditionally used to promote relaxation and support restful sleep, which can be beneficial during this time.

10. Potential to Soothe psoriasis or eczema flare-ups.

Lemon balm contains a compound called rosmarinic acid, which is believed to combat free radicals that can affect skin cells. It also has tannins known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which may help soothe skin irritation. For those experiencing psoriasis or eczema flare-ups, lemon balm is often chosen for its potential to calm rashes and other skin discomforts.

11. Repels mosquitoes

If you’re looking for a natural way to discourage mosquitoes, lemon balm is a great option. The essential oil in lemon balm contains compounds that are believed to act as insect repellents.

So, if you want to enjoy your time outdoors with fewer worries about those pesky bugs, consider rubbing some lemon balm oil on your skin before heading to the park or beach (or any other place where there are lots of mosquitoes).


12. May help with Alzheimer’s Disease

Another of the benefits of lemon balm is its potential as an Alzheimer’s treatment. Recent human studies have shown that taking 600–1600 milligrams of dried lemon balm leaf capsules increases cognitive function and mood. These findings suggest that lemon balm might be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions associated with stress and anxiety. Source

How to Grow Lemon Balm

 Lemon balm can be a delightful addition to your garden. It’s easy to grow and prefers rich soil, but it will grow in almost any soil. Lemon balm can tolerate part shade to full sun, but it grows best in full sun. It doesn’t require fertilization, as this will make the plant lose its scent. You can propagate lemon balm from seeds, cuttings, or divisions of mature plants.

benefits or lemon balm

Harvesting & Drying Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is pretty easy to harvest. It can be harvested anytime during the growing season and sometimes I can get a couple rounds in one year. The best time is right before it flowers because this is when the plant has the highest oil content. The oil is what gives it that delicious lemon scent and flavor. At the first signs of flowering, I grab the scissors. A good pair of strong kitchen scissors or some pruning shears work well.

Lemon balm lends itself well to the air drying method. I simply hang bunches upside down in a dry, dark place for about a week and thats it.  There are quicker ways using an oven or dehydrator, but this way works well for me. 


The herb is considered safe for most people, but those with hypothyroidism should take care when using it. Also, pregnant and nursing mothers should use lemon balm with caution.

Concluding Thoughts

To sum things up, lemon balm is a useful plant that can be used in a variety of ways. With the sheer number of benefits it provides, it’s a good idea to have some around if you can grow it.  If you can’t find lemon balm locally, you can purchase it from Mountain Rose Herbs. My favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products.


  1. Akbarzadeh M, Dehghani M, Moshfeghy Z, Emamghoreishi M, Tavakoli P, Zare N. Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students. Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2015 Jun;4(2):e27001. doi: 10.17795/nmsjournal27001. Epub 2015 Jun 27. PMID: 26339667; PMCID: PMC4557408.
  2. Asadollahi A, Khoobdel M, Zahraei-Ramazani A, Azarmi S, Mosawi SH. Effectiveness of plant-based repellents against different Anopheles species: a systematic review. Malar J. 2019 Dec 21;18(1):436. doi: 10.1186/s12936-019-3064-8. PMID: 31864359; PMCID: PMC6925501.
  3. Kennedy DO, Wake G, Savelev S, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Oct;28(10):1871-81. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300230. PMID: 12888775.
  4. Shekarriz Z, Shorofi SA, Nabati M, Shabankhani B, Yousefi SS. Effect of Melissa officinalis on systolic and diastolic blood pressures in essential hypertension: A double-blind crossover clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2021 Dec;35(12):6883-6892. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7251. Epub 2021 Nov 11. PMID: 34766389.
  5. Taavoni S, Mazem Ekbatani N, Haghani H. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013;19(4):193-6.


The Outdoor Apothecary website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure proper plant identification and usage.

Please be aware that some plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for verification of nutritional information, health benefits, and any potential risks associated with edible and medicinal plants mentioned on this website.

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