The medicinal parts are the oil extracted by distillation, the dried leaves, the fresh leaves, and the whole plant.
Flower and Fruit
The small white bilabiate flowers are in 6 one-sided false whorls in the axils of the upper leaves. The calyx is campanulate, bilabiate, and it has a shortly dentate upper lip. The corolla tube is curved upward. The upper lip is slightly domed and divided in two parts, the lower lip is trilobed with an extended middle lobe. The flower has 4 stamens. The fruit is an oblong-ovate, 1.5- to 2-mm long, and chestnut brown nutlet.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is a perennial that grows up to 90 cm high, with an erect, quadrangular, branched, and sparsely haired to glabrous stem. The leaves are petiolate and have an ovate to rhomboid, 2- to 6-cm long by 1.5- to 5-cm wide crenate leaf blade, which is shortly pointed at the end, and stunted or wedge-shaped at the base. It is usually only pubescent above or completely glabrous.
Before flowering, the taste and smell is lemon-like, later becoming astringent to balm-like and warming.
The plant is indigenous to the east Mediterranean region and west Asia, and is cultivated in central Europe or established in the wild.
Lemon balm is the fresh or dried leaves of Melissa officinalis as well as its preparations. The leaves are collected before flowering or before there is too much branching. Leaves and stem are separated and comminuted and dried quickly at temperatures between 30 to 40º C.
Not to be Confused With
Nepeta cataria. var. citriodora (lemon cat mint).
Balm, Bee Balm, Blue Balm, Garden Balm, Sweet Mary, Honey Plant, Cure-All, Dropsy Plant, Melissa
Actions & Pharmacology
Volatile oil (0.02-0.8%): chief components geranial (citral a), neral (citral b), citronellal (together 40-75% of the volatile oil, aroma-carrier), furthermore, linalool, geraniol, geranylactetate, methyl citronellate, trans-β-ocimene, 1-Octen-3-ol, 6-methyl-5-heptene-2-on. beta-caryophyllene, caryophyllebepoxide, germacren D, eugenol
Glycosides: of the alcoholic or phenolic components of the volatile oil, for example eugenol glucoside
Caffeic acid derivatives: rosmaric acid (up to 4.7%)
Flavonoids: including among others cynaroside, cosmosiin, rhamnocitrin, isoquercitrin
Triterpene acids: including among others ursolic acid. Only the very fresh drug (maximum 6 months old) is usable as a sedative, because of the low volatile oil content and its high volatility; the requirements of the German-language medication texts do not take this into consideration (no minimum content requirement given).
The drug has mild sedative and carminative, spasmolytic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-oxidative and anti-hormonal effects.
Indications & Usage
Approved by Commission E:
- Nervousness and insomnia
The drug is used for nervous agitation and sleeping problems.
In folk medicine, the drug is utilized as decoctions of the flowering shoots for nervous complaints, lower abdominal disorders, meteorism, nervous gastric complaints, hysteria and melancholia, chronic bronchial catarrh, nervous palpitations, vomiting, migraine, nervous debility, headache, and high blood pressure. It is used externally for rheumatism, nerve pains and stiff necks (compress).
Melissa officinalis is used for menstrual irregularities.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Mode of Administration
Comminuted herb, herb powder, liquid extracts or dry extracts for teas and other galenic preparations; liquid and solid forms for internal and external use; combinations with other sedative and/or carminative herbs may be beneficial.
- Capsules — 395 mg
- Dry Extracts - 4:1 to 6:1 with ethanol or purified water.
To prepare an infusion pour one cup of hot water over 1.5 to 4.5 g of the drug and strain after 10 minutes. Drink several cups a day.
5 drops, 1 tablet or 10 globules every 30 to 60 minutes (acute) or 1 to 3 times daily (chronic); parenterally: 1 to 2 mL sc acute, 3 times daily; chronic: once a day (HAB34).
Store in well-sealed, non-plastic containers, protected from light and moisture for up to 1 year.