Lemon Balm- Medicinal Uses, Interactions, Side Effects, Dosage

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Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis, commonly known as lemon balm or melissa, is a member of the mint family. The leaves, which emit a fragrant lemony odor when bruised, are used medicinally.
Uses and Benefits:
Lemon balm has traditionally been employed as a mild ,anxiolytic, sedative, or hypnotic herb, and is commonly taken in ,( Hnbination with other herbs. It is also used for mild gastrointestinal dyspepsia or spasms, especially associated with anxiety, and is considered a carminative (helps expel gas from the stomach). Topically, it is promoted for herpes simplex infections and cold sores. Historically, lemon balm steeped in wine was used for wound dressings, to treat venomous bites and stings, and for other topical uses.
Pharmacology:
Important constituents include an essential oil (containing citronellal and other compounds), rosmarinic acid, avonoids, polyphenols, and tannins. The essential oil extract as spasmolytic or relaxant activity on isolated smooth muscles in animal models. Limited studies of hydroalcoholic extracts qiven intraperitoneally or orally to mice have shown sedative-hyp­notic effects. In vitro, the essential oil has antimicrobial activity against various bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, while the aqueous extracts have antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus, HIV, influenza virus, and others. The rosmarinic acid constituent in­hibits complement-dependent inflammatory reactions in vitro and in animal models.
Extracts of M. officinalis have been demonstrated to bind in vitro to thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and Grave's thyroid-stimu­lating immunoglobulin, thus blocking TSH-receptor activation.
Clinical Trials:
Oral preparations of lemon balm, alone, have not been studied in human clinical trials for any indication. Several controlled studies of lemon balm combined with other herbs (such as valerian) have suggested mild anxiolytic or hypnotic properties, but the specific role of lemon balm is not known.
Based on in vitro antiviral activity, a 1 % topical cream (Loma herpan) was evaluated in two randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled European trials for cutaneous herpes simplexinfections. Both trials demonstrated statistically significant im- provements, but the clinical benefits were minimal. For examplE), one study (n == 66) found mean symptom scores were slightly de creased in the treatment group on day 2 (P == 0.42), but no differ­ence was found in the total scores over 5 days of use, and global physician assessments were not statistically significant. 13 In the other study (n == 116), a statistical improvement on day 2 was demonstrated for swelling and redness, but not for other symp­toms such as pain, erosion, scabbing, or vesication. However, the active treatment was favored in global assessment ratings by both patients and physicians.
Although herbalists have suggested that lemon balm may be beneficial for hyperthyroidism, there is no published clinical experience.
Adverse effects:
There are no known or reported side effects.
Side Effects and Interactions:
There are no recognized drug interactions, although caution is advisable if used in combination with other sedative-hypnotic agents.
Cautions:
There is no data in pregnant or breast-feeding women. Although antithyroid effects have only been established in vitro, patients with thyroid disorders should probably have more frequent laboratory monitoring after initiating or discontinuing the herb.
Preparations & Doses:
About 1.5-4.5 g of crude herb or liquid extract is generally administered 2-3 times daily as needed. Solid extracts are usually administered in doses of 300-900 mg. A topical cream containing a 1 % lyophilized aqueous 70:1 extract (Lomaherpan) was administered 2-4 times daily in the European clinical trials, starting early in an acute herpes outbreak. This cream is available in the U.S. as Herpalieve (by PhytoPharmica) and Herpilyn (Enzymatic Therapy, Inc.).
Summary Evaluation
Lemon balm has a long history of use as a mild anxiolytic and sedative, and for relief of dyspepsia, but clinical studies have not litl done to verify these properties. The herb may have some as a topical agent for symptoms of herpes simplex . Lemon balm appears well tolerated, with no reported adverse effects.

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Author: Peter Thomas
Peter Thomas is a writer, who writes many great articles on herbal medicines for common ailments and diseases. For more information on herbal remedies and home remedies visit our site on health care

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