Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Lemon Balm is an antioxidant and a mild sedative. Its properties help the body fight free radicals that cause ageing and disease. The antioxidants in lemon balm make it ideal for skin care and as part of your anti ageing regime. Medical studies have determined that lemon balm is useful as a mild sedative and antispasmodic.
Please note there is not enough research around the area of lemon balm used in conjunction with children, pregnant mothers or breast feeding mothers. For this reason I would reframe using this herb with any of these specific groups of people.
With us all spending more time at home and the weather being so beautiful, some of us are turning our hands to a spot of gardening. We all like to save money where we can and this herb is super easy to grow and has lots of lovely health supporting uses.
1. To encourage good bugs
Whilst this fragrant herb grows it encourages the magnificent bee to pollinate. We must encourage the life of the humble bees, they are the very core of our ecosystem!
2. To protect your investments
Plant these herbs sporadically around the garden to ward off bugs from eating other plants, very handy to know instead of buying expensive chemical repellents which put a strain on our purse as well as stress on amazing systems such as the liver for detoxification.
3. As support for the nervous system
It's paramount we support our nervous systems with anxiety levels ramping right up at the moment. This most definitely has a knock on effect with the endocrine system, further compromising our immune system through adrenal fatigue and killing some good bacteria and digestive enzymes in our digestive tract (this being our first line of immune defence). Notice when you feel more stressed, you don’t tend to digest your food quite so well! Lemon balm is known to work on our calmer nervous system (parasympathetic) to relax the body. This could be useful to aid sleep or calm nerves during the day if it’s been a particularly hard day with online meetings, family confinement pressures or home schooling during lockdown. We should be aware that with increased amounts of screen time/blue light, comes a negative effect on our nervous system and melatonin levels needed for the ability to fall asleep and quality of sleep itself. Research has found it useful to support Graves’ disease as it is a hormone regulator, particularly for balancing thyroid hormones.
4. For anti-tumour support
In one in-vitro cytotoxicity study using MTT (Lemon Balm) oil, it was found effective against a series of human cancer cell lines (A549, MCF-7, Caco-2, HL-60, K562). Lemon Balm oil possessed antioxidant activity, as evidenced by reduction of 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH). These results pointed to the potential that lemon balm essential oil could be included in an anti tumour protocol (M. L. Officinalis, 2004).
5. As an antibacterial, antiviral & natural analgesic
Enjoy a lemon balm tea by steeping 3 or 4 leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes or steep 15-20 leaves in boiling water for 15-20 minutes and add this to your bath in the evening. This is also useful as a foot soak to relax tired feet and muscles. Now is a good time to say how antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal it is! You could benefit from a lemon balm foot soak for any cuts, athletes foot or skin irritations. Steep the lemon balm leaves as you would for a bath, this would be good to know for diabetic sufferers with a lack of sensations in their lower limbs and easily find themselves damaging the skin on their feet. It’s a natural analgesic so nice to use topically to ease pain from feet or right through the whole body in a relaxing bath. You could always combine this with magnesium salts to aid recovery and relaxation.
6. To support weight loss
Research shows that lemon balm can actually stop fat cells from forming by preventing blood cells that the fatty tissue needs when forming. There is also some research that shows that lemon balm can actually reduce the protein that forms fat cells.
7. To lower your blood sugar
Lots of people suffer with the inability to control sugar levels, whether that be due to diet choices and/or a stressful lifestyle. Ideally we all need to maintain steady sugar levels for general well being, but that needs ramping right up with illnesses such as diabetes, mental health such as dementia and heart health. There is research that shows, taking a lemon balm supplement or using lemon balm essential oil for 6 weeks significantly lowered blood sugar. More research needs to be done however so lose your own questions to your doctor or health professional..
8. To support your liver
The liver is an emotional organ and thus will be taking a hit just now. Studies have found lemon balm to support the liver detoxification pathways. It has been shown to deactivate enzymes that create fatty liver tissue as well as reduce inflammation and white blood cell activity in the liver. However, limit yourself to 1-2 cups/day. Some research shows that lemon balm in super duper high doses can actually cause liver toxicity.
9. To keep the mosquitos away
Citronella (aka lemon balm) is great for keeping mosquitos away, so why not make DIY Candles with melted natural beeswax and couple of drops of lemon balm essential oil, or make insect repellent with a carrier oil instead of beeswax and support your nerves at the same time? Enjoy on your pulses and temples.
10. As an addition to honey
Honey has its own amazing qualities (please refer to my herbal cough remedy post). By infusing honey with fresh lemon balm, a unique taste and further anti viral and bacterial properties are brought to the table. Be sure to use local honey to support your histamine levels and reduce hay fever allergies and leave for 2-3 weeks to really allow the leaves to infuse the honey.
11. As a homemade household cleaner
Homemade cleaners are far cheaper and kinder on our bodies than most bought products. Lemon balm fits the bill with its nice fragrance, anti bacterial, viral and fungal properties. At this point I’d like to highlight washing the floors or bath with products containing chemicals in, then walking barefoot over the floors or putting your kids into a freshly ‘cleaned’ bath, means your skin will absorb all those chemical into the body and can add towards hormone imbalances, endocrine disruption, energy and mood changes, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain.... basically the list goes on... and on!
Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a glass spray bottle with a few drops of lemon balm essential oil and you’re good to go! You could add a tsp of bicarbonate in for extra POW! You need to use a glass spray bottle as the essential oil in the cleaner can cause the plastic to degrade.
12. To improve skin health
The leaves of lemon balm contain potent astringent and antibacterial properties useful for many things including cleansing pores to reduce blackheads. It contains rosmarinic acid, one of lemon balm's key antioxidant ingredients. The acid is slightly drying which helps reduce oily, acne-prone skin and its anti inflammatory properties reduce swelling and redness.
13. To treat acne
Lemon balm makes a great homemade acne treatment. Steep lemon balm leaves in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove leaves and mix the liquid with grade A bentonite clay until it makes a paste. Spread the paste onto the pimple and let it sit for around 15 minutes or until it hardens. Rinse well with warm water and you’re done! Save clay mixture in a glass jar for next time. Always use either wooden or plastic spoons to retrieve clay from the jar. The clay can pull metals from the spoon into itself which is not good to go on the skin.
14. To soothe insect bites
Use the same clay mixture as above and the itching will stop.
15. To treat cold sores
Cold sores are an annoyance for many people. Steep lemon balm leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes. Allow the water to cool a bit then dip an organic cotton ball into it and saturate it. Place the saturated cotton ball onto the cold sore. Repeat 4 times a day until the cold sore is gone.
The lovely herb in its leaf or oil state, plays a huge role in soothing the body as well as skin and nerves. Being a member of the Mint family, Lemon Balm decreases stress and anxiety. It is a mild sedative that promotes sleep, antiviral activity, particularly against the herpes virus (HSV) that causes cold sores, and has the ability to absorb UV light and so can play a role in protecting the skin against UV damage. It is also mood enhancing and can be used to treat mild depression.
Always consult your doctor or health practitioner with possible interactions when taking medications.