The Nootropics Library: Lemon Balm

Everything You Need to Know About Lemon Balm

General Information

Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis

Any Other Names: Balm, Melissa, Bee Balm

Primary Constituents: Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Tannins, Triterpenes, and Volatile oils (citral, caryophyllene oxide, linalool, and citronellal)

Country or Region of Origin: Native in Southern Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa; Cultivated Around the World

Known Uses: Nervous System Relaxant, Neuroprotective, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Nerve Tonic, Cold Sores, Some Hormonal Treatments, Insect Sting Treatments, Fevers, and More


General History & Introduction

Lemon Balm is one of the most widely used nootropics for brain power and memory throughout recorded history (Chevallier, 2016).  It was once recorded that the balm is “sovereign for the brain,” offering incredible memory-strengthening powers and forcefully driving away sadness.  The herb has been prepared as a dietary supplement, tincture, salve, extract, herbal tea, and essential oil.  The derivative of the plant’s scientific name (Melissa) pays homage to the significant attraction between the plant and bees, literally translating in Greek to “Bee” (2016).

Lemon Balm comes from the Lamiaceae family, which are generally known for their aromatic fragrances and simple cultivation (APG, 2009). The plant gets its name from its leaves which produce a strong lemon-like scent (Chevallier, 2016). Typically, the plant will grow up to 40 inches tall. The herb has a long history of medicinal use throughout Asian, African, and European cultures for all types of ailments and effects (Aubert et al., 2019). Some of the suggested benefits of the plant include improved cognitive performance, nervous system relaxation, anti-inflammatory properties, fever-reduction, antidepressant effects, muscle relaxation, digestive support, and more (2019).

Nootropic Benefits of Lemon Balm

Neuroprotective & Cognitive Performance

Lemon Balm offers strong neuroprotective properties and is well-known to offer significant benefits to the brain (Scholey & Stough, 2011). The plant’s antioxidant properties help reduce oxidative stress levels in the brain (Rafieian-Kopaei et al., 2017).  Lemon Balm has been a staple in many traditional holistic practices for improved cognitive support (Aubert et al., 2019). The herb’s favorable effects on cognitive performance have been well-documented in many clinical trials (Shakeri et al., 2016). The plant’s heavy polyphenol content provides strong anti-fatigue properties which greatly aid mental attention and performance (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Nervous System Relaxant

The volatile oils within the Lemon Balm plant have been long studied for their ability to calm down the central nervous system (Chevallier, 2016).  The volatile oils citral and citronellal are most responsible for these calming effects.  The antispasmodic properties of these oils also help the rest of the body relax, which aids in the overall calming of the CNS (2016). The herb’s innate ability to relax the heart can also have a positive impact on the nervous system (Steinhubl et al., 2015).

Anti-Inflammatory, Fever-Reducing Properties

In addition to its generally relaxing properties, Lemon Balm is great for reducing fever and general inflammation (Urtiu et al., 2018). It can greatly reduce the symptoms of (and treat) headaches. The plant is also a well-documented antihistamine, treating allergies and relieving some similarly relevant, uncomfortable symptoms (2018). The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb can be locally administered, or allowed to diffuse into the blood stream via consumption (Aubert et al., 2019).


For thousands of years, traditional holistic has called upon Lemon Balm for its incredible antidepressant effects (Shakeri et al., 2016).  The herb has been used in a variety of cultures for its ability to effect mood, and these effects have been studied and proven in many clinical trials (2016). Ancient texts suggest the herb is able to literally ‘lift the spirits’ (Chevallier, 2016).  Not only can it reduce short-term depression, but also improve long-term health [longevity].  Lemon Balm’s relaxing properties also play a large part in the herb’s ability to ease anxiety and depression (2016).  The herb’s calming properties have a significant impact on overall mood (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Antispasmodic, Antiviral, and Other Uses


Lemon Balm is well-known to offer antispasmodic properties, as it greatly relaxes the muscles (Aubert et al., 2019). It can be effective as an antispasmodic remedy in general holistic sense, but one recent study has outlined the herb’s proven benefit to promote digestive comfort (Aubert et al., 2019).  This study analyzed Lemon Balm’s ability to treat mild GI complaints, chiefly bloating and flatulence, determining the herb to be of significant efficacy (2019).  It makes sense that Lemon Balm is a perfect herb of choice for many when it comes to GI issues, as it also possesses wonderful antiviral properties (Shakeri et al., 2016). One study even found the extract an amazing potential, natural remedy for the avian influenza virus (Pourghanbari et al., 2016).  In addition, Lemon Balm has been suggested and studied for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antitumor effects (Turhan, 2006).

Dosing and Usage Information

As a part of a nootropics or supplement regimen, Lemon Balm is typically consumed as a tablet or liquid extract. A normal dose is around 400 to 500 mg of plant extract. Topical applications (salves, balms, and liquid extracts) can be applied to cuts, scrapes, bruises, and cold sores (Chevallier, 2016).

It is also worth mentioning Lemon Balm can also be used as an essential oil. Normally only a few drops are required to relieve pain when applied as a topical pain reliever (such as during a massage). Consulting with one’s doctor before internally ingesting any essential oil is strongly advised.

Side Effects

Lemon Balm is generally considered safe, with minimal side effects.  These side effects, however rare, include headache and dizziness, indigestion, flatulence (gas and bloating), nausea, stomachache and vomiting, and in some very rare cases painful urine (Demirci et al., 2015).

Other Important Information


Typically, only the aerial parts of the Lemon Balm plant are used to create calming tonics (Chevallier, 2016). The plant can be used to reduce the likelihood of a cold sore outbreak (preemptively).  It has been used to treat hormonal issues, possessing strong antithyroid properties.  For this reason, Lemon Balm has been prescribed to people with overactive thyroids.  It can be used to treat restlessness and irritability, purportedly even helping people with sleep disorders.  Some traditional medicines use Lemon Balm to treat tooth aches, feelings of nervousness, and panic attacks.  It can also treat acidity, nausea, and bloating (2016).


Lemon Balm is a versatile herb with truthworthy benefits, mostly backed by hard, empirical data. It would be easy to suggest Lemon Balm is a popular nootropic and a true wonder plant, but still may vastly underestimated in terms of holistic healing powers. The herb has a lot of uses which justify keeping some around the house or adding it to a daily supplement regimen. Whether it is a topical salve for some minor cuts and cold sores, or a daily answer to mood, anxiety, GI issues or cognitive performance, Lemon Balm is undoubtedly noteworthy. It is easily arguable that the herb would be a great asset to any holistic medicine cabinet.

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


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Aubert, P., Guinobert, I., Blondeau, C., Bardot, V., Ripoche, I., Chalard, P., and Neunlist, M. (2019). Basal and Spasmolytic Effects of a Hydroethanolic Leaf Extract of Melissa officinalis L. on Intestinal Motility: An Ex Vivo Study. Journal of medicinal food. Vol. 22(7). Pp. 653–662. DOI: Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

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Pourghanbari, G., Nili, H., Moattari, A., Mohammadi, A., and Iraji, A. (2016). Antiviral activity of the oseltamivir and Melissa officinalis L. essential oil against avian influenza A virus (H9N2). Virusdisease. Vol. 27(2). Pp. 170–178. DOI:

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