The Healing Powers of Lemon Bee Balm: Medicinal Uses

Lemon bee balm is a lemon-scented herb that has been used for centuries in herbal medicine. With its bright and refreshing citrus fragrance, this plant is easy to recognize. But beyond its lemony aroma, lemon bee balm has a host of medicinal uses and health benefits that make it a valuable addition to any natural medicine cabinet.

Lemon Bee Balm

Lemon bee balm, also known by its scientific name of Melissa officinalis, is a perennial herb native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. It gets its common name from its lemony scent, which comes from citronellal, citral and other volatile oils present in the leaves. The “bee balm” portion of its name comes from the fact that bees are highly attracted to the nectar-rich flowers of lemon bee balm.

In addition to its lemony fragrance, lemon bee balm has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste. It has been used since ancient times as a medicinal tea and tonic for various health complaints. The leaves and flowering tops are used to make herbal remedies. Today, lemon bee balm is still highly valued in alternative medicine for its anti-anxiety, calmative, antimicrobial and digestive benefits.

Sedative and Anti-Anxiety Properties

One of the most well-known uses of lemon bee balm is as a mild sedative and anti-anxiety agent. The volatile oil citronellal gives lemon bee balm its sedative and relaxant properties. Lemon bee balm preparations have been used traditionally to treat nervousness, anxiety, insomnia and other sleep problems.

The carminative, sedative and calming properties of the herb help relieve tension and promote relaxation. A cup of lemon bee balm tea before bed can help calm the nerves, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. For those with chronic anxiety or insomnia, lemon bee balm extract can be taken in tincture form for its tranquilizing effects.

Researchers have confirmed the anti-anxiety abilities of lemon bee balm in several studies. In one placebo-controlled trial, participants who took a lemon balm extract for 15 days showed significant reductions in anxiety and had improved sleep compared to the placebo group.

So if you’re looking for an herbal remedy to relieve stress and promote relaxation, lemon bee balm is an excellent natural option to try. It has a long history of traditional use for alleviating anxiety, soothing frayed nerves and addressing sleep issues like insomnia. Just the aroma of lemon bee balm alone can have an uplifting and calming effect.

A Soothing Herb for Digestive Troubles

Another traditional use of lemon bee balm that is backed up by research is for digestive complaints. The antispasmodic and carminative properties of lemon bee balm help relieve intestinal cramps, bloating, flatulence and stomach aches.

This lemon-scented herb can be very effective at relaxing the smooth muscles along the digestive tract. By reducing intestinal spasms and relieving gas pain, lemon bee balm allows the digestive system to function properly.

Lemon bee balm is helpful for indigestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea and other forms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It relieves nausea and vomiting as well. The polyphenols and flavonoids in lemon bee balm also help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.

For digestive troubles, lemon bee balm tea is an excellent choice. The hot tea helps further relax the intestinal muscles while the volatile oils soothe the stomach. Tinctures and extracts can also be used. Adding a few drops of lemon bee balm essential oil to water is another great way to get fast relief from digestive symptoms.

Relief from Colds, Coughs and Congestion

Lemon bee balm makes a flavorful and medicinal tea on its own, but it is also a popular ingredient in many cold and flu remedies. The antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant abilities of lemon bee balm make it useful for treating respiratory infections.

Drinking lemon bee balm tea provides a quick and tasty way to help relieve cold symptoms. It has a diaphoretic effect, causing sweating to lower a fever during illness. The antimicrobial properties of lemon bee balm also help kill viruses and bacteria that cause colds, flu, bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

As an expectorant, lemon bee balm thins mucus and makes it easier to cough up phlegm from the throat and lungs. This helps clear congestion in the nasal passages and chest. Lemon bee balm also contains rosmarinic acid and other compounds that reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.

The menthol in lemon bee balm gives it a soothing, cooling effect on sore scratchy throats. The pleasant flavor and aroma enhance the experience of drinking lemon bee balm tea while congested or coughing. For children and adults alike, lemon bee balm is a gentle and effective remedy for cold and flu symptoms.

Antimicrobial and Antifungal Properties

In addition to fighting cold viruses, lemon bee balm has antibacterial properties too. Compounds like linalool, geraniol and thymol give lemon bee balm the ability to inhibit bacterial growth. This makes it effective against certain types of harmful bacteria.

Using lemon bee balm essential oil or extract topically on cuts, scrapes and wounds provides an extra layer of protection against infection. Lemon bee balm’s antimicrobial actions combined with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also help speed healing.

Oral hygiene is another area where lemon bee balm can be beneficial. The thymol in lemon bee balm gives it antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that maintain oral health. Lemon bee balm treats oral thrush and reduces plaque formation and gingivitis. Simply swishing lemon bee balm tea or extract around the mouth and gums provides therapeutic effects.

Lemon bee balm can also treat fungal infections when used topically. Research indicates that lemon bee balm oil is effective at inhibiting the growth of certain Candida species. Applying diluted lemon bee balm oil may help clear up fungal skin rashes and nail infections.

Quick Healing for Minor Wounds

From small cuts and scrapes to bug bites and stings, the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of lemon bee balm make it helpful for treating minor wounds. Topical lemon bee balm preparations provide quick healing and soothing relief.

Lemon bee balm contains natural compounds like rosmarinic acid that reduce swelling and inflammation. Its antibacterial effects help prevent infection in broken skin. The antioxidant activity of lemon bee balm neutralizes cell damage while increasing blood flow to the area to aid healing.

Using lemon bee balm infused oil or salve on paper cuts, small wounds, blisters, insect bites and skin irritations provides faster symptom relief and healing. For those with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, lemon bee balm can decrease flare-ups and discomfort.

The next time you have a minor wound you want to heal quickly, reach for lemon bee balm. Its refreshing lemony scent will help lift your mood while its medicinal properties promote rapid healing.

Headache and Toothache Relief

Lemon bee balm has mild analgesic or pain-relieving abilities that can temporarily alleviate headaches and toothaches. When taken as a tea, tincture or extract, lemon bee balm helps reduce minor aches and discomfort associated with tension headaches.

It is thought to inhibit pain receptors while also providing anti-inflammatory effects. For migraine sufferers, lemon bee balm may help reduce headache frequency or intensity when used regularly.

Drinking strong lemon bee balm tea is a traditional remedy for relieving toothaches. As a topical treatment, lemon bee balm oil or extract can be applied to painful teeth and gums for numbing effects. Lemon bee balm’s pain-relieving and antibacterial actions help reduce oral inflammation and discomfort.

While lemon bee balm may not be strong enough for severe pain relief, it can be very helpful for mild to moderate headaches and toothaches. It offers a safer and gentler alternative to commercial painkillers.

How to Use Lemon Bee Balm

There are many ways to use lemon bee balm medicinally. Here are some of the most common preparation methods:

  • Tea: Pour boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of dried lemon bee balm and steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times daily.
  • Tincture: Take 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon lemon bee balm tincture 2-3 times per day.
  • Extract: Follow dosage instructions on supplement labels, usually 1-2 capsules daily.
  • Topical oil: For skin applications, use lemon bee balm essential oil diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil.
  • Poultice: Mash fresh leaves into a paste and apply to affected areas.
  • Syrup: Simmer lemon bee balm leaves in honey water and then strain to make a medicinal syrup.

No matter which preparation method you choose, lemon bee balm provides the advantage of a sweet citrusy flavor along with its therapeutic plant compounds.

Growing Your Own Lemon Bee Balm

If you want a fresh and steady supply of lemon bee balm, consider growing this herb yourself. Lemon bee balm is very easy to grow at home and makes a beautiful and fragrant addition to any garden. Here are some tips for growing lemon bee balm:

  • Plant in well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. Lemon bee balm thrives in zones 4-9.
  • Propagate by seed, cuttings or root division in spring or fall.
  • Lemon bee balm spreads readily. Plant it by itself or surround with border plants.
  • Water whenever the soil dries out. Too much moisture can cause root rot.
  • Harvest leaves as needed once plants are established. Time harvesting for before flowers bloom.
  • Prune flowerheads after blooming to prevent self-seeding and encourage leaf growth.

Homegrown lemon bee balm provides you with the freshest lemon-scented leaves for your herbal preparations. Plus, you can enjoy its pretty purple flower spikes and sweet floral aroma in your garden.

Safety and Side Effects

When used appropriately, lemon bee balm is very safe and causes minimal side effects. Mild digestive upset or skin irritation may occasionally occur. Very high doses may lead to increased heart rate or drowsiness.

Lemon bee balm likely interacts with sedatives, thyroid medications and drugs metabolized by the liver. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid large or concentrated doses but moderate tea usage is likely okay.

Always consult your doctor before using lemon bee balm supplements or combining it with prescription medications. Children and those with medical conditions should stick to food-amounts and avoid long-term internal use.

The Takeaway

With its refreshing lemon fragrance and sweet, herbaceous flavor, lemon bee balm is a highly versatile medicinal plant. It has strong historical use and modern scientific support for benefits like relieving anxiety, soothing digestion, fighting infections, healing wounds, and alleviating headaches.

Lemon bee balm is easy to grow yourself and simple to prepare as a tea, tincture, poultice or salve. This gentle herb offers a safer alternative to OTC drugs for certain conditions. Next time you’re looking for an herbal remedy, consider giving lemon bee balm a try. You just may find you have a new favorite herb.