Lemon Balm Tea Benefits & Side Effects
Lemon balm mint is a popular herb used in culinary dishes and herbal tinctures. The plant brews into a sunshine-colored tea and offers a layered flavor profile that makes each sip a pleasure. The minty and tart flavors that make it a unique herbal tea that invigorates and refreshes. Find out more about this tasty tea including benefits and side effects.
Lemon Balm Basics
Lemon balm tea is made from the lemon balm plant known by the botanical name Melissa officinalis. The lemon balm mint plant is also used to produce lemon balm essential oil and herbal extracts. While the plant is native to Europe, it is commonly grown in household gardens across the world.
The lemon balm plant is part of the mint family. The tea features a lemony and minty flavor that is refreshing and invigorating. The minty notes are similar to peppermint tea while the lemon notes add a citrus hint. The tea offers many potential health benefits and few side effects when consumed in moderation.
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm
1. Sleep Benefits
Lemon balm tea has long been used in herbal medicine to help treat sleep disorders. Modern research has also found evidence to support the use of lemon balm leaves in the treatment of sleep disorders. Cyracos, a popular sleep aid even uses lemon balm leaves in its supplements to help improve sleep quality (1).
A 2014 study found that lemon balm exhibited anti-stress effects. The researchers found that young adults who ate lemon balm rated their mood and cognitive performance both one hour and three hours after consumption (2).
Additional research found that lemon balm oil and lemon balm extracts like Cyracos helped to improve sleep in people with anxiety disorders. The clinical trial found that 95 percent of patients responded to treatment while 70 percent had complete remission of anxiety during the study when they were using lemon balm (3). It's important to note that the study consisted of just 20 participants and lasted 15 days. More research is needed to establish these results for larger portions of the population.
The calming effect of lemon balm tea may help you unwind after a tough day. It may also help to improve sleep by directly targeting neurotransmitters in the nervous system. For the best results, combine it with other relaxing powerhouses like chamomile tea and valerian root.
2. Cognitive Function
Drinking lemon balm tea may help to improve or protect cognitive function in people who suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's disease. That's because the plant has demonstrated cholinergic properties, which allow it to act in a similar manner to neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are often damaged or ineffective, leading to forgetfulness and dementia.
An animal study published in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences found that lemon balm extract may be useful in improving memory. Researchers discovered that 200mg/kg doses of lemon balm improved levels of scopolamine and inhibited AChE activity in rats (4). This shows the potential to enhance memory and potential therapeutic value in memory impairment, though human clinical trials are needed.
3. Beneficial For Digestion
This herbal tea is a great choice for people who are looking to soothe digestion. The plant is commonly combined with German chamomile and fennel to help treat colic in infants.
Research published in 2016 showed that lemon balm extract helped to inhibit the formation of new gastric ulcers in rats (5). Research published in 2010 also found that lemon balm in combination with a cold dessert helped to improve symptoms of dyspepsia — also known as indigestion — including flatulence and bloating (6). Another study found that lemon balm helped to soothe painful menstrual cramps and cramps from an upset stomach (7).
4. Fights Infections
Lemon balm tea contains active ingredients including tannins, rosmarinic acid, polyphenols, and flavonoids that may help the body fight off infections. A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that lemon balm tea was effective in fighting herpes simplex virus — even against drug-resistant strains (8). The tannins in the tea leaves also boast antibacterial properties that help to fight the bacteria that cause cold sores.
5. Heart Health
Drinking lemon balm tea may be beneficial for heart health by reducing risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lemon balm helped to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels when consumed regularly (9). The plant may also help to lower blood pressure levels and blood sugar levels to further protect the heart.
Side Effects of Lemon Balm Tea
While lemon balm is a popular ingredient in natural remedies, it does have a few side effects to keep in mind. Lemon balm tea may interact with certain medications including thyroid medications. Always seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking lemon balm tea.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the use of lemon balm in the treatment of any ailments. However, lemon balm is approved for use in certain medications in other countries around the world. Consult a physician before using lemon balm to treat any ailments.
Liven Things Up With Lemon Balm
The lemon balm plant is a wonderful resource to brew teas and make herbal concoctions. You can use lemon balm leaves to create tinctures and herbal remedies just like the Ancient Greeks. Add a few drops of citronellal to lemon balm oil and you'll have a powerful bug repellant. You can also use this mixture as part of a relaxing aromatherapy session. The medicinal plants offer dozens of uses and you can grow the plants fresh in your own garden.
Brew a glass of fresh lemon balm tea and enjoy its calming effects and delightfully minty and lemony flavor. The sweet balm leaves are perfect for brewing a hot cup of tea or a refreshing glass of iced tea in the summertime. Just add the leaves to boiling water and steep for 5 to 10 minutes for the best flavor.