Traditionally, people use lemon balm tea to help improve mood, slow cognitive decline, and decrease anxiety levels. It may also help with insomnia, relieve menstrual pain, and support gastrointestinal health.

Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb from the mint family. This plant is native to parts of Europe, Central Asia, and Iran. People often use the leaves of this plant to flavor foods.

It may also help individuals with certain conditions. In traditional medicine, people use lemon balm for a variety of purposes, ranging from digestive health to healing wounds.

There is limited research on how lemon balm tea specifically may help individuals. This article focuses on lemon balm alongside the uses and benefits of this plant. It also considers the risk factors and side effects of lemon balm.

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Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis L., is a herbaceous perennial with oval, aromatic leaves. In the summer, small white flowers bloom.

It is straightforward to grow from a seed in spring. There are many different varieties of lemon balm plants, including:

  • aurea
  • citronella
  • lemonella
  • lime
  • quedlinburger
  • variegated

People can purchase lemon balm tea in most grocery stores, drug stores, and online. People can also make it at home if they have access to a lemon balm plant.

To make lemon balm tea from the plant, a person should use the following instructions:

  • Remove fresh leaves and rinse well.
  • Lay the leaves on a baking sheet until they dry — people can store dried lemon balm for several months and still maintain their flavor.
  • Boil water and add dried leaves.
  • Allow them to steep, or soak, for about 5 minutes, and then add sugar or honey if desired.

Numerous studies discuss the benefits of lemon balm extract, oils, or capsules.

A 2016 study investigated the benefits of lemon balm tea made from lemon balm extract.

The researchers concluded that the hot water extract of lemon balm leaf may provide health benefits to glycation-associated tissue damage in blood vessels and skin of healthy adults. Glycation-associated damage links closely to the onset of various diseases and aging phenomena.

There may be some therapeutic uses for lemon balm, but the efficacy may change when a person consumes this as a tea made with dried lemon balm.

Additional studies are needed to better understand the potential benefits of lemon balm tea.

Lemon balm may offer some health benefits, which we outline below.

Improve mood and cognitive function

Research in 2021 suggests that lemon balm may benefit mood and cognitive performance. The study demonstrated that treatment with lemon balm led to improvements in tasks involving memory, concentration, and mathematics.

The findings suggest that lemon balm may be effective in improving anxiety and symptoms of depression in some people. However, the researchers note that further high quality studies are needed to firmly establish the clinical efficacy of the lemon balm. These findings also relate to lemon balm supplements — not lemon balm tea.

Another study also demonstrated that chronic administration oflemon balm relieved stress-related effects. Further studies should incorporate a placebo and investigate physiological stress markers.

Help with insomnia

Ingesting lemon balm may help individuals who experience insomnia or have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

A study from 2021 investigated the links between lemon balm and the benefits to postmenopausal people. The researchers concluded that they would recommend lemon balm to improve the quality of life of menopausal people with sleep disturbance.

An additional study also explored the effects of lemon balm on sleep disturbances in people with chronic stable angina (CSA). The results demonstrated that 8-week supplementation with lemon balm can decrease depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in people who have CSA.

Other studies have found lemon balm to have positive effects on insomnia when combined with other herbs and nutrients. For example, IQP-AO-101 contains asparagus extract, saffron extract, lemon balm extract, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.

The clinical study results show that IQP-AO-101 improves sleep quality and well-being in people with moderate sleep disturbances and is well-tolerated.

Support gastrointestinal health

Individuals who experience frequent gastrointestinal discomfort may benefit from consuming lemon balm.

A 2019 study on rats demonstrated that lemon balm decreased the intestinal transit time — the time it takes food to travel from the mouth through the gastrointestinal tract (GI).

Further research is needed to conclude how effective lemon balm is for the GI.

Help relieve menstrual pain

Menstrual cramps, known as dysmenorrhea, can be extremely painful for some people.

A study in 2017 showed that consuming lemon balm extract may help reduce moderate to severe dysmenorrhea. The researchers noted that this effect may be related to the antispasmodic effects of this herb — inhibit smooth muscle contractions in the GI tract.

May help with Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease is where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid. This causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones, known as hyperthyroidism.

A study in 2021 discussed how two individuals with Graves’ disease consumed bugleweed and lemon balm. Over time, both individuals had normal blood levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone. However, further study of the anti-thyroidal effects of lemon balm in humans is required to evaluate it as a therapy in Graves’ disease.

Individuals with Graves’ disease should discuss the use of lemon balm as a therapeutic agent with their doctor before they start regularly consuming it.

Antioxidant potential

Lemon balm can act as a powerful antioxidant.

One review article highlights how this herb can decrease the amount of reactive oxygen species and may be helpful for individuals with:

Research also confirmed that lemon balm extract possesses high virucidal activity — the ability to destroy viruses. This extract was used by researchers against herpes simplex virus type 1, which causes cold sores.

Read more about other health benefits of lemon balm.

Research from 2015 showed that a person who had consumed lemon balm tea demonstrated withdrawal symptoms after stopping the consumption of lemon balm.

However, a review article from 2017 claimed that individuals reported no side effects after consuming lemon balm topically or orally for 30 days in otherwise healthy adults and when consumed in amounts found in foods. Note that this claim was not related to the use of lemon balm tea.

The study also mentioned that lemon balm may be a risk factor if:

Lemon balm may interfere with the action of thyroid hormones. A person should consult their doctor before taking these herbs with thyroid hormones.

There is currently insufficient research on the side effects of lemon balm tea specifically. Therefore, people with any underlying conditions should consult a doctor before using lemon balm or tea therapeutically.

Lemon balm tea is made of dried lemon balm leaves.

Some people use lemon balm to treat a number of conditions such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, and menstrual cramps, but it is unclear if lemon balm tea will elicit the same response.

While more studies are needed to determine how lemon balm tea may help individuals, it does appear that the tea is safe for most people to consume.

A person should consult their doctor if they have an underlying condition, such as a thyroid issue, before regularly consuming lemon balm tea.