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Image by Elliott B

Lemon Balm

(Melissa officinalis)

Family: Lamiacaea

Parts Used: Fresh or dried aerial parts – harvest before flowering

Qualities: Cooling, drying

Taste: sour, sweet, slightly bitter


  • Carminative

  • Anxiolytic (may significantly inhibit MAO-A, an enzyme responsible for degradation of a range of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine

  • Spasmolytic / anti-spasmodic

  • Mild sedative

  • Antidepressant (Hoffman)

  • Diaphoretic

  • Hypotensive (Hoffman)

  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) antagonist (although there is some thought that Lemon Balm is more of a thyroid adaptogen and will only reduce TSH if required)

  • Antiviral (topically)


  • Sleep disturbances

  • Nervous sleeping disorders

  • Mild anxiety disorders

  • Infantile colic

  • Indigestion, flatulence, colic

  • Tenseness and irritability

  • Depression, nervous breakdown

  • Stress and tension

  • Overactive thyroid

  • Fevers

  • Common cold, influenza

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Teenage health – e.g. nervousness, low mood, poor cognition and sleeping difficulties

  • Topical treatment for herpes simplex virus – applied in a concentrated aqueous extract or as an essential oil in a cream for herpes simplex type 1 (reduces healing time by half)

Contraindications: Theoretically, taking large amounts of lemon balm can have effects on people with hypothyroidism and taking Synthroid or other thyroid stimulating medications.

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