Lemon Balm for Anxiety - How Well Does It Work?
Does taking lemon balm for anxiety really help to reduce the symptoms?
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a calming herb that is part of the mint family.
It is historically used to treat insomnia, sleep disturbances, anxiety, stress, stomach complaints and to boost appetite.
It is commonly combined with other herbs like valerian, hops and chamomile to help with reducing stress, anxiety and to induce relaxation for the body.
Read on to find out what we currently know about the benefits of lemon balm for anxiety disorders...
studies on the health benefits of using lemon balm for reducing anxiety
Several clinical studies have shown that lemon balm, when combined with other calming herbs, can effectively reduce anxiety, stress and treat insomnia.
Combination herbs are commonly used instead of single ingredients to maximize benefits.
Here are two studies that provide insight into the effectiveness of using lemon balm for reducing anxiety symptoms.
A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children.
Müller SF, Klement S.
Phytomedicine. 2006 Jun;13(6):383-7
The children selected for this study all suffered from restlessness and nervous muscle movements. It was quite a large study that involved a total of 918 children.
Results? The two researchers showed that a combination of valerian and lemon balm was effective in reducing restlessness and sleeping disorders (such as insomnia).
More good news. None of the children experienced any side effects from the combination of the two herbs.
This study did not specifically looked at using lemon balm for anxiety treatment but it is known that anxiety, nervous behaviours and sleep disturbances symptoms are commonly found together. Treating one often leads to improvements in the other symptoms. (For example, treating anxiety reduces insomnia in many people.)
Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress.
Kennedy DO, Little W, Haskell CF, Scholey AB.
Phytother Res. 2006 Feb;20(2):96-102.
This second double-blinded placebo-controlled study (meaning that the study is well-designed) revealed that combining lemon balm and valerian was effective at reducing anxiety in 24 healthy volunteers.
The 600 mg dose of the combination was the best to use while the higher dose of 1800 mg showed an increase in anxiety.
What about using lemon balm for panic attacks? There are no studies that show if it would help. Of course, this doesn't mean that it won't. We just don't know.
Lemon balm works to reducing anxiety and that high anxiety levels lead to panic attacks, So it is logical that lowering anxiety levels will reduce the likelihood of getting panic attacks.
Lemon balm for anxiety - Suggested dose to use
Many studies used around 80 mg of the lemon balm extract taken three times daily. For a tincture (made in 45% alcohol with a 1:1 concentration), use 2 to 6 mL three times daily.
Tea formulation have been used as well. Herbalists suggest drinking one cup of tea (containing 1.5 to 4.5 grams of the leaf) two or three times daily as needed.
Studies done with lemon balm extract for treating Alzheimer's disease or dementia used 60 drops daily of the alcohol extract.
Most studies used a combination formula that also included one or more other ingredients such as valerian or passionflower.
It appears that some studies show that lemon balm is useful in helping to reduce anxiety.
So it makes sense to give it a try. Start with around 80 mg taken three times daily and adjust the dosage from there.
If you are taking any prescription medications for anxiety, it is important to let your doctor know that you are planning to take this natural supplement. It is unwise to just stop your prescription medication without talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
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