Lemon balm, or "Melissa officinalis," is an herb belonging to the mint family that's been used for centuries to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, indigestion and wounds. You can make lemon balm tea by steeping 1/4 to 1 tsp. of dried herb in hot water. You can drink the tea up to four times daily. You can also make topical applications of the tea for treating certain skin problems by steeping 2 to 4 tsp. of crushed lemon balm leaves in one cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, apply the tea to your skin using cotton balls.
Drinking lemon balm tea can have a calming effect and help to induce sleep. Many studies have investigated lemon balm's use in treating insomnia and anxiety, but most of the clinical trials used a combination of lemon balm and other herbs like valerian, hops and chamomile, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Nevertheless, the studies did find that taking lemon balm helped to improve sleep. The University of Michigan Health System cites a preliminary clinical trial that compared the effects of a product containing lemon balm and valerian root with the insomnia medication triazolam, or Halcion. The study found that the herbal combination was just as effective as Halcion at improving the participants' ability to fall asleep and quality of sleep.
You can also drink lemon balm tea to ease indigestion. Lemon balm has been used traditionally to improve digestion and to soothe gastrointestinal ailments. Studies have found that lemon balm is effective in treating indigestion, according to the Georgetown University Medical Center. Again, lemon balm is usually combined with other herbs to treat indigestion. For example, peppermint and lemon balm together are effective for calming upset stomach, notes the University of Michigan Health System.
Treating Herpes Lesions and Cold Sores
You can apply lemon balm tea to cold sores and herpes lesions. Lemon balm contains flavonoids, phenolic acids and other compounds that fight the herpes virus, explains the University of Michigan Health System. Medical research has found that lemon balm applied topically can effectively treat herpes simplex virus sores, the Georgetown University Medical Center states. Georgetown University cites studies that found significant improvement in healing sores in patients with herpes lesions around the mouth and genitals. The University of Michigan Health System also points out double-blind clinical research that's confirmed that topical applications of lemon balm can speed up healing of herpes simplex virus sores on the mouth. In the human studies, lemon balm helped to significantly reduce redness and swelling after just two days, but other symptoms like pain and scabbing didn't improve, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Treating Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Some medical studies have found that drinking lemon balm tea may help to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Research indicates that lemon balm can help to reduce agitation and improve cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer's. The Georgetown University Medical Center cites studies that suggested that lemon balm can improve memory and decrease anxiety in people suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Lemon balm may interact with certain medications, such as thyroid medications and HIV medications, explains the University of Maryland. Talk with your doctor prior to taking lemon balm to prevent any interactions with medications or health conditions.