Lemon balm herbal extract more
Scientific name: Melissa officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae, mint
from the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO MEDICINAL HERBS:
Brushing the leave of lemon balm fills the air with a minty, lemony scent. The fragrance is almost irresistible, especially to bees. That fact is reflected in the herb's genus name, Melissa, which comes from the Greek word for honeybee. Lemon balm has been cultivated as a bee plant for over 2,000 years. According to Dioscorides and pliny the Elder, both renowned physicians in their day, the Greeks and Romans valued lemon balm as a flavoring for food as well as a medicinal plant. They drank wine infused with leon balm for fevers and used the crushed leaves to treat wounds and bites. The Greeks may have introduced the Arabs to lemon balm, who praised it as a remedy for heart conditions and depression and for strengthening the memory and the mind.
In the ninth century, the emperor Charlemagne was so impressed by the herb's healing properties that he ordered it planted in all monastery apothecary gardens. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, lemon balm was used for treating wounds and digestive upsets and easing anxiety and sleeplessness. A number of religious orders used lemon balm in special aromatic waters. The most famous, Eau de Melisse de Carmes, are Carmelite water, was first pro ducted by French Carmelist nuns in the early 17th century. A mixture of lemon balm, angelica, and various spices-infused in alcohol-was valued as a headache cure. European colonists brought lemon balm to the United States, but its use as a medicinal herb faded during the 19th century. However, it still is very popular in Europe.
In modern herbal medicine, lemon balm is combined with other calming herbs, such as valerian and hops, to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Recent studies indicate that it may also improve secondary memory and the ability to learn, story, and retrieve information. Hence, herbal practitioners recommend lemon balm for Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Lemon balm is also used for digestive problems and hyperthyroidism, and externally as a treatment for cold sores.
Once referred to as the gladdening herb, this gentle member of the mint family has been used to relieve stress and anxiety for millennia. European and German authorities approve the use of lemon balm for tension, anxiety, and poor sleep. Studies in children and adults confirm that the combination of lemon balm and valerian, also prized as a calming agent, reduces restlessness and improves sleep. A study in people with Alzheimer's disease found that lemon balm extract decreased agitation and improved cognition when taken internally. Even the topical application of lemon balm essential oil produced a calm effect in elders with dementia.
Lemon balm is also a digestive aid suitable for all ages. Lemon balm gently relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. The European and German health authorities approve lemon balm for minor gastrointestinal spasms and for easing bloating and gas. A study of 93 breast-fed babies with colic found a combination of lemon balm, fennel, and chamomile decreased crying time by more than double compared with the babies receiving a placebo over a period of one week! Studies in adults of lemon balm in combination with other herbs have shown that it eases indigestion.
Another area of exciting research is the use of lemon balm extract for the treatment of oral herpes, or fever blisters. Scientists have identified several compounds in the herb that block the herpes simplex virus. Two clinical trials in volunteers found that lemon balm extract shortens duration and severity of a herpes outbreak when applied topically 3 to 4 times daily.