Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) and AnxietyMay 19, 2021
Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb in the mint family. It has traditionally been used to improve mood and cognitive function and as a sleep aid and digestive tonic. It promotes calmness and reduces stress and anxiety.
Records concerning the medicinal use of lemon balm date back more than 2,000 years. Renaissance Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493 to 1541 c.e.), an early chemist who has been called the father of toxicology, noted that lemon balm could completely revivify a man and recommended it be used for “all complaints supposed to proceed from a disordered state of the nervous system.”1
Lemon balm is available in tea, herbal extracts, and essential oil form. These can be added to water, coffee, shakes, smoothies, or salad dressings. If you’re feeling jittery, try applying lemon balm/melissa in a lotion to your skin, which feels lovely and soothing. You also could take an Epsom salt (magnesium) bath with a few drops of essential oil added, and then, for good measure, put lemon balm lotion on your skin afterward and climb into bed.
Tip: You could grow your own lemon balm at home! It is easy to grow at home in a pot or in your garden, as long as it gets direct sunlight. Not only do its leaves have a rich, zippy, lemon scent, but lemon balm also contains compounds that can repel mosquitoes. For a quick homemade mosquito repellent, simply crush a handful of lemon balm leaves in your hand and rub them on your exposed skin. Fewer mosquitos, less anxiety? It’s worth a try!
This is an excerpt from my latest book, Anxiety-Free with Food. To read more about this topic, get the book HERE.
1. A. Scholey, et al., “Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods,” Nutrients, vol. 6, no. 11 (November 2014), pp. 4805–21, doi: 10.3390/nu6114805.