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Lemon Balm

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Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), a plant native to the Mediterranean region, has been clinically proven to help with anxiety and sleeplessness. What’s more, lemon balm produces these calming effects while also enhancing memory and attention!

Lemon balm is also used medicinally as a herbal tea, or in extract form. It is claimed to have antibacterial and antiviral properties (it is effective against herpes simplex).

It is also used as an anxiolytic, mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective at reducing stress, although the study's authors call for further research. Lemon balm extract was identified as a potent inhibitor of GABA transaminase, which explains anxiolytic effects. The major compound responsible for GABA transaminase inhibition activity in lemon balm is rosmarinic acid.

Lemon balm and preparations thereof also have shown to improve mood and mental performance. These effects are believed to involve muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Positive results have been achieved in a small clinical trial involving Alzheimer patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

Lemon balm is useful for treating nervous disturbances of Sleep and chronic gastrointestinal disorders, but its primary use today is in treating viral infections of the skin, especially herpes, both genital herpes and cold sores. Although it does not eliminate flare-ups, it relieves itching in hours and helps the lesions heal over in a few days. One scientifically controlled study followed 66 individuals who were just starting to develop a cold sore (oral herpes). Treatment with lemon balm cream produced significant benefits on the second day of the outbreak (usually the day symptoms are worst), reducing intensity of discomfort, number of blisters, and the size of the lesion.

Used with salt, it was formerly applied for the purpose of taking away wens, and had the reputation of cleansing sores and easing the pains of gout.

This herb can be easy to cultivate in Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9 according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In zone 4, it needs well-drained sandy soil and a winter mulch or adequate snowcover to survive. In zone 7, it can be harvested at least until the end of November. While it prefers full sun (as described on most plant tags), it is moderately shade-tolerant, much more so than most herbs. In dry climates, it grows best in partial shade. It can also be easily grown as an indoor potted herb.

Balm grows freely in any soil and can be propagated by seeds, cuttings or division of roots in spring or autumn. If in autumn, preferably not later than October, so that the offsets may be established before the frosts come on. The roots may be divided into small pieces, with three or four buds to each, and planted 2 feet apart in ordinary garden soil. The only culture required is to keep them clean from weeds and to cut off the decayed stalks in autumn, and then to stir the ground between the roots.

Make sure the product you are using is lemon balm, and not the less expensive citronella.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.