Lemon Balm, also known as Sweet Balm and Sweet Melissa, this member of the mint family is found in abundance in mountainous regions of Europe and is now naturalized elsewhere. Lemon balm is also believed to treat a range of medical disorders affecting the digestive tract, nervous system, and liver.1 Its use dates back to the 14th century when Carmelite nuns used it to make an alcoholic tonic popularly known as Carmelite water. Today, lemon balm is used in traditional medicine as both a sleep aid and digestive tonic. It can be consumed as a tea, taken as a supplement or extract, or applied to the skin in balms and lotion. Lemon balm essential oil is also popular in aromatherapy, where it is believed to promote calmness and ease stress.*
Often said to ease stress and anxiety, lemon balm contains a compound known as rosmarinic acid that appears to have potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Alternative practitioners believe that lemon balm can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including insomnia, cold sores, high cholesterol, genital herpes, heartburn, and indigestion. There are some who even contend that it can improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's disease.*