Lemon Balm



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Lemon balm, known scientifically as Melissa officinalis, is a fragrant perennial herb from the mint family. Native to Europe and Central Asia, it’s lauded for its lemony scent and potential to ease stress and improve sleep. Commonly utilized in traditional medicine, lemon balm can be consumed in teas or used in aromatherapy to help induce relaxation. However, smoking the herb is not advised due to potential respiratory risks.

Common name(s): Common balm, balm, bee balm, sweet balm, Melissa, heart's delight, honey plant.
Scientific name: Melissa officinalis


Life Cycle

lemon balm, balm, herbs

Known for its calming properties, lemon scent, and use in traditional and modern herbal medicine.


South-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, Central Asia, and widely naturalized elsewhere.

Natural Habitat

Typically found in sunny fields and gardens, and along woodland edges.


Prefers full sun to partial shade, regular watering but well-drained soil, and thrives in rich, moist, but well-drained loamy soil.

Traditional Usage

Lemon balm has been cherished for its soothing qualities and fragrant leaves since ancient times. Traditionally, its uses were centered around its calming nature and pleasant lemon scent. Below are the primary ways lemon balm was utilized in traditional medicine:

  • Easing stress levels to promote relaxation
  • Improving sleep and soothing restlessness
  • Alleviating gastrointestinal discomfort and indigestion

These traditional uses underscore the benefits that were sought after in a natural, home-grown remedy for everyday ailments. With its gentle aroma and tranquil properties, lemon balm provided a multi-purpose herb that supported both physical and emotional well-being.

Historical Usage

Traditionally valued for its relaxing effects and aid in sleep, stress relief, and digestive discomfort.

Common Usage

Currently used for stress relief, sleep improvement, and as a flavoring in food and beverages.


Lemon balm is a herb well-regarded for its potential to instill a sense of peace. It’s highly sought after by those looking to naturally address common concerns such as stress and sleep disruption. Beyond its calming effects, lemon balm is appreciated for its contributions to gastrointestinal comfort and immune system support. Here’s a closer look at the general effects you might experience with lemon balm:

  • A noticeable sense of calm and relaxation
  • Reduced symptoms of mild stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep quality, especially when used in conjunction with other calming herbs
  • Assistance with digestive issues and gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Support for immune system function

It’s essential to keep in mind that while lemon balm is considered safe for most people, it can sometimes cause side effects like nausea and stomach pain. To ensure the best results and avoid potential interactions, particularly if you’re taking sedative medications, consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended3. Enjoy the serene and soothing properties of lemon balm while mindful of personal health and wellness.

lemon balm, herbs, garden herbs

Lemon balm is valued for its calming effects, potential to improve cognition, and its use in relieving digestive discomfort.

Effects when smoking

Smoking lemon balm can induce a variety of effects, reinforcing the traditional use of the herb to promote relaxation and improve mood. While the practice is not widespread and bears potential health risks due to the inhalation of smoke, some individuals may still seek to utilize the herb in this manner. Here are the potential effects when smoking lemon balm:

  • Calming Effect: Users often report a sense of calm and relaxation, similar to the effect of drinking lemon balm tea.
  • Mild Sedation: A mild sedative effect may help to alleviate stress and anxiety, contributing to a more peaceful state of mind.
  • Better Sleep Quality: The herb may be helpful in managing sleep disturbances, promoting a restful night’s sleep.
  • Refreshing Flavor: Lemon balm’s mild lemon scent and flavor can make the smoking experience enjoyable for those who appreciate herbal aromas.

Despite these potential effects, it is crucial to consider the long-term impact of smoking any plant material. The introduction of combustible substances into the lungs can be harmful and alternative consumption methods are recommended for those seeking the benefits of lemon balm3. It may be more advantageous to explore teas, extracts, or aromatherapy to enjoy the soothing properties of the plant without exposing oneself to the risks associated with smoking.

Flavor Profile

Mild lemon scent and flavor, refreshing and soothing.

Edible Parts


Effects when Smoked

Potential for a calming effect, but smoking not recommended due to health risks.

User Experiences

Users generally report a calming effect and improved sleep quality, with a pleasing flavor and aroma in teas and other preparations.

Medicinal Benefits

Lemon balm is revered for its calming properties, with studies highlighting its potential to ease stress and help with sleep disturbances. Enjoyed in various forms, it’s particularly popular among those seeking natural remedies for relaxation and immune support. Below are some of its notable potential medicinal benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety when used in conjunction with other herbs such as valerian and chamomile3.
  • Promotes better quality sleep, offering a natural alternative to support restful nights3.
  • Supports the immune system when prepared as an oxymeli, harnessing the benefits of both the herb and honey1.
  • Contains active compounds like terpenes, tannins, and flavonoids, which may help modulate mood and cognitive function3.
  • Alleviates symptoms of mild stress, contributing to an overall sense of calmness and relaxation3.

While its flavor is enjoyed by many in teas and aromatherapy, it’s important to note potential risks of different consumption methods and consult with healthcare professionals for personalized dosages.

History and Folklore

Lemon balm has a cherished place in historical herbal medicine, prized for more than its delightful citrus aroma. Traditionally, it was believed to rejuvenate the spirit and enhance longevity. In ancient Greece and Rome, lemon balm was grown for its soothing properties, allowing it to find its way into the heart of various therapeutic practices. It was commonly used to ease stress, improve sleep, and relieve gastrointestinal symptoms. In medieval gardens, it was also planted for its aromatic leaves, which were thought to promote health and vitality2 3.
Through the ages, lemon balm has continued to be a potent symbol of mental and physical wellness, reflecting a legacy that infuses ancient wisdom into contemporary holistic practices.

lemon, balm, nature

Lemon balm, with its refreshing citrus scent, has been revered since ancient times for its stress-relieving and digestive benefits, often associated with longevity and vitality.

Side Effects and Contraindications

  • Side Effects: When using lemon balm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as nausea, dizziness, and stomach pain. Although infrequent, these side effects are important to consider before use.
  • Contraindications: If you’re currently taking medications with sedative properties, be cautious as lemon balm may interact with these drugs. Due to its calming effects, it could potentially enhance sedation from other medications.

Legal Status

Lemon balm is legal in most regions around the globe. It is not subject to any significant legal restrictions, and it can be grown and utilized by individuals freely for personal use.
As a widely accessible herb, it can generally be purchased, cultivated, and consumed without the need for special permissions or licenses1 2 3 4 5. It’s important, however, to stay informed about any local regulations that could affect the use of lemon balm in your area.


1. Herbal Guide to Lemon Balm: Grow, Harvest, and Use a Lemon Balm Plant …, https://gardentherapy.ca/lemon-balm/
2. Lemon balm – Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_balm
3. Lemon balm Information | Mount Sinai – New York, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/lemon-balm
4. Melissa officinalis – Plant Finder – Missouri Botanical Garden, https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c857
5. Lemon balm | Plant, Herb, & Uses | Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/plant/lemon-balm