Under the spotlight: LEMON BALM
The VITL Nutrition Team
Our in-house nutritionist breaks down lemon balm; what it is, how it works and how to take it.
What is it?
Lemon balm is an ancient herb, native to southern Europe, which has a delicate lemon fragrance and is part of the mint family. It’s scientific name 'Melissa officinalis' is derived from Greek, meaning honey-bee, which refers to the attraction the plant holds for bees.
It has been used for centuries in ancient medicine for a variety of ailments. But is it legitimate? We took a deep dive into the research for you and have come up with a conclusion!
With a long history in traditional herbal medicine (dating back almost 2000 years), extracts of the leaf are used for both physical and mental relief, whilst it’s leaves can also be brewed to make tea 1.
Less anxiety & better sleep
Living in a post-covid world, we have had our fair share of anxieties and sleepless nights and, for those not wanting to take prescription remedies, lemon balm can be a good solution. Several clinical studies have shown the benefits of lemon balm extract on individuals suffering from anxiety 2.
Another study looked at the sleep quality of patients undergoing heart surgery, and the trial suggested that the lemon balm group had significantly better sleep than the placebo group 3.
How does it work?
Although the research is in its infancy with regards to this calming herb, it is thought that lemon balm increases the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in our brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter which regulates our mood and low levels can lead to restlessness and anxiety 4.
The enzyme that breaks down GABA, called GABA-T, is significantly reduced by lemon balm, which results in high levels of GABA in the brain. The specific compound responsible for this is rosmarinic acid. Research has identified that lemon balm affects mood by elevating calmness which may lead to improved sleep 5.
How can I take it?
In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety, sleep disorders are at an all-time high and the use of herbal extracts to support overall wellbeing is growing. We could all use a little more calm and relaxation in our lives. Why not give our “Sweet Sleep” blend a try?
Other than lemon balm, this carefully formulated blend contains L-theanine, the common ingredient found in green tea. Also included is vitamin B6 which contributes to the normal function of the nervous system and the essential minerals zinc and magnesium in a highly absorbable form.
For more information on our Sweet Sleep blend, please click here.