Lemon Balm Monograph

Scientific name of Lemon Balm:
Melissa officinalis

Action of Lemon Balm:
Non-drowsy natural sedative; mood enhancer; supports healthy neurological function

Lemon Balm is used for these common wellness concerns:
Tension and nervous agitation caused by occasional anxiety and related overactive behavior; mild to moderate mood changes caused by everyday stress; memory and other healthy cognitive functions

Find Lemon Balm in these Clarocet blends:

Clarocet NRI® Immediate Response Capsules™
promote fast-acting relaxation when you need it most.

Clarocet ERT® Extended Release Tablets™
promote positive mood balance all day strong.

Clarocet CS® Controlled Release Tablets™
promote long-lasting energy and mental sharpness.

Clarocet PM® Rapid Release Capsules™
promote a deep, restful night's sleep.

Clarocet Junior® Easy-to-Swallow Tablets™
support Emotional Wellness in kids ages 7 thru 13.

An Overview of Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family, and has traditionally been referred to as “the calming herb.” Lemon Balm is used to relieve:

  • Tension and nervous agitation caused by occasional anxiety and related overactive behavior
  • Mild to moderate mood changes associated with everyday stress
  • Healthy cognitive function such as memory, attention span and mental sharpness
  • Sleep difficulties caused by restlessness or nervousness

In the United States, Lemon Balm is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the Food and Drug Administration. Substances that receive a GRAS classification have maintained a long, safe history of common use in foods or have been determined to be safe based on proven scientific research.

Science and Pharmacology of Lemon Balm

Recent analysis has determined that the pleasant-smelling essential oils derived from Lemon Balm contain many compounds that appear to be responsible for its emotional and neurological health benefits. These compounds are:

  • Flavonoids
  • Phenolic Acids

Although the precise mechanism of action is not clearly understood, numerous clinical trials suggest that Lemon Balm promotes relaxation, soothes tension and helps to relieve occasional anxiety and related overactive behavior. Additional studies have reported that Lemon Balm helps to support mental performance, accuracy, attention span and working memory.

Lemon Balm Safety and Usage

Lemon Balm maintains an excellent safety profile when it is used as directed. In the United States, Lemon Balm is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the Food and Drug Administration. Substances that receive a GRAS classification have maintained a long, safe history of common use in foods or have been determined to be safe based on proven scientific research.

In children between the ages of seven and 13, a dose of 25 to 125 milligrams is recommended for the relief of tension and nervous agitation caused by occasional anxiety and other overactive behavior, mild to moderate mood swings associated with everyday stress and lack of focus or mental sharpness. Higher doses are recommended for occasional sleep difficulty caused by restlessness or nervousness. In adults, studies have shown that a dose of between 100 and 600 milligrams per day promotes relaxation, emotional balance and mental sharpness.

What are the potential side effects of Lemon Balm?

Side effects are rare and have been documented as mild to moderate in clinical study. They may include headache, gastrointestinal discomfort, drowsiness and sleep difficulty. In the event that you or your child experiences an adverse reaction, discontinue use of this herb. Lemon Balm does not cause withdrawal or discontinuation effects.

Is Lemon Balm safe for children?

Lemon Balm is generally well tolerated when used by children between the ages of seven and 13. Because each child is different, Lemon Balm should not be administered without the supervision of a professional healthcare provider.

Does Lemon Balm adversely interact with prescription drugs?

Taking Lemon Balm in combination with prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or SNRIs (serotonin-norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors) may cause drowsiness. If you or your child is taking a prescription medication, it is recommended that you consult with your prescribing doctor before making any changes or additions to a current treatment plan.

What precautions should I take before beginning Lemon Balm?

Consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a wellness plan that includes dietary supplements like Lemon Balm.

  • Do not take Lemon Balm if you are pregnant or nursing
  • Do not take Lemon Balm if you are currently taking a prescription MAOI
  • Do not take Lemon Balm if you are currently taking a protease inhibitor for HIV/AIDS
  • Do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery until you know how Lemon Balm affects you

Lemon Balm Clinical Studies

1. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm).
Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA.
Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria, UK
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Jul;72(4):953-64. PMID: 12062586 [Read the Abstract]

2. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties.
Kennedy DO, Wake G, Savelev S, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB
Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Oct;28(10):1871-81. PMID: 12888775 [Read the Abstract]

3. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm).
Kennedy DO, Little W, Scholey AB.
Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):607-13. PMID: 15272110 [Read the Abstract]

4. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study)
Cerny, A, Schmid, K.
a. Inselspital, University Hospital, Switzerland
Fitoterapia Vol: 70, Issue: 3, June 1, 1999 ISSN: 0367-326x [Read the Review ]

5. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial.
Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M.
Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;74(7):863-6. PMID: 12810768 [Read the Abstract]

6. Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa.
Ballard CG, O'Brien JT, Reichelt K, Perry EK.
Wolfson Research Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
J Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;63(7):553-8. PMID: 12143909 [Read the Abstract]

Related online research destinations

Last Updated: February 2015 [PHMF-03-0]