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.

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.

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lemon balm leaves

Choosing the right lemon balm supplement

Supplements containing lemon balm should be created using a natural leaf extract, not produced artificially in a laboratory. This means that the effects of taking it differ according to the variety of lemon balm 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 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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