Lemon balm has numerous effects in the gastrointestinal area: On the one hand, balm leaves relax and soothe spasms thanks to its anti-spasmodic and soothing ingredients. Furthermore, lemon balm is gastro-protective and its active ingredients contribute to its anti-inflammatory effect.
Additionally, antiviral activity against Herpes simplex virus has been shown.
Lemon balm’s origin and uses
As early as in the Antiquity were lemon balm leaves (melissae folium) known as an aid against complaints such as stomach and heart disease as well as nervousness. But it was the zesty lemon fragrance that brought the medicinal plant its name - lemon balm.
Bees love this aroma and buzz around the lemon balm’s small white flowers – to extract the nectar and produce highly aromatic honey. Humans, on the other hand, most often reach for the leaves – lemon balm can be used to increase the fragrance of salads, sauces and pasta dishes. Some even use them in preserves.
But it was the monks in the Middle Ages who started brewing wines and liquors from the lemon balm’s pointed, heart-shaped leaves – mainly as a digestive remedy. Because of its multiple healing effects, the lemon balm plant (melissa officinalis) had to be grown on a decree of Charlemagne in every convent garden in Europe in the Middle Ages. At that time, the essential oil of the lemon balm, which is obtained from the leaves, was also sometimes described as “liquid gold” due to its high cost.
Nowadays lemon balm is still used to relieve GI symptoms.
Besides, lemon balm is also particularly popular in cases of nervousness: it has a soothing effect, relieves insomnia and the feelings of tension and thus can prevent these feelings from further exasperating any digestive issues.