Why take lemon balm?

Lemon balm is a popular herb with a pleasant aroma and flavour. Traditionally used to stimulate the mind and relax the spirit, researchers have discovered that it promotes positive mood, and that special strains boost mental performance.

The history

Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is an edible herb of the mint family. It originates in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and western Asia.

Lemon balm is used to create herbal tea and as a flavouring in liqueurs, ice cream, sweets and fish dishes. It is also popular among gardeners and aromatherapists for its scent, a pleasant combination of lemon and mint.

In traditional medicine, the herb is taken as a drink or applied externally as an essential oil. Practitioners use lemon balm to promote relaxation, boost cognition, and improve mood. It has also been used to soothe gastrointestinal discomfort.

The science

Lemon balm leaf extract contains rosmarinic acid, a chemical compound with antioxidant properties that is also present in other well-known herbs of the mint family such as rosemary and sage. Rosmarinic acid has been shown to affect the brain in a number of ways: it influences neurotransmitters that modulate mood and emotion as well as enhancing memory by acting on the hippocampus.

Other compounds present in lemon balm leaf extract have been shown to activate muscarinic M1 receptors, which are responsible for efficient flow of information between neurological cells.

Studies have shown that high-quality lemon balm leaf extract from specific varieties can:

  • increase neuronal activity, which boosts alertness and concentration
  • improve learning and memory
  • decrease anxiety by reducing cortisol levels
  • ameliorate negative moods and promote a feeling of calm

The effects of lemon balm are short-term, lasting a few hours.

Lemon balm leaf extract is not produced artificially in a laboratory. It is harvested from the herbaceous plant, so the effects of taking it differ according to the variety that has been cultivated. Factors such as soil quality and sunlight will also have an impact. Only specific strains of lemon balm will produce the cognitive effects listed above

For these reasons, it is important to take a supplement that is created with a high-quality extract, as this will help to ensure better results.

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lemon balm leaves

Did you know...

The taxonomic name for lemon balm, melissa officinalis, derives from the Greek word for ‘bee’, because bees are so attracted to the plant.

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