Home  >  Blog  >  Lemon Balm for Anxiety and Depression

Lemon Balm for Anxiety and Depression

Lemon Balm for Anxiety and Depression

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a cultivated perennial lemon-scented herb. It’s a member of the mint family. Lemon balm is also known as bee balm and honey balm. Lemon balm is native to Europe, Central Asia, and Iran, but now used around the world. It grows in sandy and scrubby areas. It has been used traditionally to improve sleep and as a digestive tonic. 

Recent research published in “The Phytotherapy” research publication shows lemon balm to be safe and effective for reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, particularly in an acute setting for adults and children. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis including 10 randomised controlled trials involving 632 participants compared placebo or standard medication against various lemon balm preparations, with doses ranging from 300 mg to 5,000 mg per day. The duration of lemon balm administration varied from a single dose to 56 days. 

In this meta-analysis, lemon balm was shown to significantly reduce depression and anxiety compared to a placebo with statistically significant results for acute anxiety. Lemon balm was well tolerated by participants, with no adverse events reported. 

The shortest duration of oral lemon balm therapy that improved anxiety disorders was 5-7 days. A single oral dose of 300 mg in healthy individuals improved state anxiety scores and memory performance at 1 and 3 hours post-intervention. However, to improve depression symptoms, more extended periods of between 10 days and 8 weeks were required.

Only one of the studies evaluated compared lemon balm to medication. In this study, lemon balm was as effective as fluoxetine for improving depression scores in patients with mild to moderate depression and had fewer side effects than the antidepressant medication.

Lemon balm’s anxiolytic and antidepressant effects are attributed to its phenolic and flavonoid constituents, mainly rosmarinic acid. In animal studies, rosmarinic acid has been shown to upregulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by inhibiting the enzyme GABA transaminase (GABA-T) and reduce serum corticosterone levels, potentially contributing to the reduction in anxiety. The antidepressant action of rosmarinic acid may occur via effects on the serotonergic pathway and hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic levels. In addition, lemon balm’s other bioactive constituents may offer neural protection due to their anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging actions.

Lemon balm is safe for use with children, under the guidance of a trained herbalist. The benefits of lemon balm supplementation for children and adolescents are widely researched and have been shown to be beneficial for anxiety and mood as well as: 

  • Teeth grinding 

  • ADHD and ADD 

  • Insomnia and restlessness 

  • Colic 

  • indigestion nausea and bloating

  • Cold sores 

When using herbs like lemon balm it is important to consult with a trained professional in Western herbal medicine.  It is important to get the correct dosage and also investigate any possible side effects or interactions with medications or other supplements.   If you are suffering from anxiety or depression and would like to discuss a holistic approach contact us at Elemental Health at info@elementalhealth.net.au  




Ghazizadeh J, Sadigh?Eteghad S, Marx W, Fakhari A, Hamedeyazdan S, Torbati M, Taheri?Tarighi S, Araj?khodaei M, Mirghafourvand M. The effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) on depression and anxiety in clinical trials: A systematic review and meta?analysis. Phytotherapy Research. 2021 Aug 27.

Saeidi J, Khansari Z, Tozandejani H. The effectiveness of Melissa officinalis and Lavandula angustifolia in Anxiety of Oil Company Employees. Journal of Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences. 2020 Feb 20;26(6):687-94.

Soltanpour A, Alijaniha F, Naseri M, Kazemnejad A, Heidari MR. Effects of Melissa officinalis on anxiety and sleep quality in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery: A double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial. European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2019 Jun 1;28:27-32.

Scholey A, Gibbs A, Neale C, Perry N, Ossoukhova A, Bilog V, Kras M, Scholz C, Sass M, Buchwald-Werner S. Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. Nutrients. 2014 Nov;6(11):4805-21.

Beihaghi M, Yousefzade S, Mazloom SR, Modares Gharavi M, Hamedi SS. The Effect of Melissa Officinalis on Postpartum Blues in Women Undergoing Cesarean Section. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health. 2019;7(2):1636-43.

Araj-Khodaei M, Noorbala AA, Yarani R, Emadi F, Emaratkar E, Faghihzadeh S, Parsian Z, Alijaniha F, Kamalinejad M, Naseri M. A double-blind, randomized pilot study for comparison of Melissa officinalis L. and Lavandula angustifolia Mill. with Fluoxetine for the treatment of depression. BMC complementary medicine and therapies. 2020 Dec;20(1):1-9.

Yoo DY, Choi JH, Kim W, Yoo KY, Lee CH, Yoon YS, Won MH, Hwang IK. Effects of Melissa officinalis L.(lemon balm) extract on neurogenesis associated with serum corticosterone and GABA in the mouse dentate gyrus. Neurochemical research. 2011 Feb;36(2):250-7.

Ghazizadeh J, Hamedeyazdan S, Torbati M, Farajdokht F, Fakhari A, Mahmoudi J, Araj?khodaei M, Sadigh?Eteghad S. Melissa officinalis L. hydro?alcoholic extract inhibits anxiety and depression through prevention of central oxidative stress and apoptosis. Experimental physiology. 2020 Apr;105(4):707-20.

Lin SH, Chou ML, Chen WC, Lai YS, Lu KH, Hao CW, Sheen LY. A medicinal herb, Melissa officinalis L. ameliorates depressive-like behavior of rats in the forced swimming test via regulating the serotonergic neurotransmitter. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2015 Dec 4;175:266-72.

Jin X, Liu P, Yang F, Zhang YH, Miao D. Rosmarinic acid ameliorates depressive-like behaviors in a rat model of CUS and Up-regulates BDNF levels in the hippocampus and hippocampal-derived astrocytes. Neurochemical research. 2013 Sep;38(9):1828-37.

Miraj S, Azizi N, Kiani S. A review of chemical components and pharmacological effects of Melissa officinalis L. Der Pharmacia Lettre. 2016;8(6):229-37.

Posted on 29 September 2021
Author:Jean Jarrett
Tags:Children's healthMental healthHerbal Medicine

Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm
(after hours booking available)