Drop the Balm: How Lemon Balm Can Be Used to Quell Anxiety

Posted on April 26th, 2022

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a small, creeping plant in the mint family. With fragrant lemon-scented leaves and pretty flowers, it smells divine and is a real looker. But it’s also no slouch in the health benefits department, either.

Native to the Mediterranean region, lemon balm’s been used for centuries as both a culinary herb and natural medicine. In recent years, lemon balm has also gained attention as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. It’s believed to improve mood and cognitive function while reducing feelings of stress and tension.

But this isn’t just wishful thinking. Let’s dig in and take a closer look at this mind-easing plant.

Forms of lemon balm

Lemon balm can be used fresh or dried in food and medicinal preparations. You’ll find it in plenty of forms, like teas, supplement pills, and essential oil. If you’re the DIY sort, you can also buy a lemon balm plant or seeds to grow your own.

There are several varieties of lemon balm as well, including:

  • aurea
  • all gold
  • compacta
  • citronella
  • quedlinburger
  • variegata
  • lemonella
  • lime

All varieties of this herb contain many terpenes and flavonoids — antioxidant substances thought to be responsible for lemon balm’s anxiolytic (aka anti-anxiety) effects. Each variety has its own proprietary mix of these compounds, though, which may impact its cost and effectiveness.

Once in the body, lemon balm is believed to work by inhibiting certain brain chemicals and boosting calmness.

How lemon balm can be effective against anxiety

Anxiety is a general term for experiencing a range of fears or worry-based reactions to stressful situations.

Symptoms may include:

  • worrying about the future
  • feeling on edge
  • being tense
  • trouble concentrating
  • feeling scared
  • intrusive thoughts

These symptoms can lead to physical responses like accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and fatigue.

Experiencing any of these feelings throughout life isn’t always a definite sign of anxiety. But when these responses become excessive or chronic, interrupting daily activities or diminishing your quality of life — that’s when you might be entering the anxiety disorder territory.

Studies show that lemon balm may be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms by elevating mood and reducing levels of stress hormones. Additionally, lemon balm has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce feelings of stress and tension.

What the science says about how lemon balm works

A 2021 review and analysis of existing studies on lemon balm’s ability to quell anxiety suggests there’s a lot that looks promising. Based on its findings, anxiety and depression in study participants were significantly alleviated by lemon balm as compared to a placebo. (Plus, there were no serious side effects.)

The article is quick to point out, though, that the studies it reviewed were dissimilar in size and structure — so, overarching conclusions should be taken with some caution.

Another review of literature from 2018 found that lemon balm inhibited a central nervous system neurotransmitter that’s involved in anxiety. Lemon balm behaved in a way similar to standard pharmaceutical options — and exhibited comparable anti-anxiety effects — but with a more favorable safety and tolerability profile.

According to an animal study from February 2022, lemon balm has the potential to help with those physical effects of anxiety too. It found that certain plant compounds have a sedative quality that can calm various gastrointestinal and heart-related tissues.

While there have been several studies on various aspects and applications of lemon balm for stress, anxiety, and depression — rooted in everything from PMS to insomnia — experts agree that additional research is worthwhile.

Original post: https://greatist.com/health/lemon-balm-for-anxiety

Post image: Zutik by Andoni/Stocksy United

Get In Touch

We'd love to hear from you!

Please get in touch through the form below.

Office location
Send us an email