This is how lemon balm can positively impact your stress and sleep

The list of lemon balm uses is long, and the benefits are even longer!
Written by
Stephanie Anderson
Reviewed by
Last updated on
June 3, 2024
min read
How Lemon Balm Can Help With Your Sleep | Kin Fertility
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Getting a good night's sleep — that's the dream, right? Unfortunately, it can be easier said than done.

From that looming deadline at work, to that time you thought someone was waving at you in the street, but they were actually waving at the person standing behind you, there are plenty of things that can keep you up at night.

Not to mention, it can be a vicious cycle. It's no secret that our bodies and brains function better after a good sleep, so when we wake up tired, it can mean poor mood and cognitive performance throughout the day. No one needs that!

That's where lemon balm can come in handy. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) can help soothe your nervous system, prevent restless energy and help keep you asleep. By slowing down brain activity, it can stop those pesky anxious thoughts from waking you up through the night, and allowing your body to get the quality rest it needs.

But what is it, exactly? How does it work? And most importantly, will it leave you feeling groggy in the morning like some sedative medications do, or with any other unwanted side effects?

As it turns out, the list of lemon balm uses is long, and the benefits of lemon balm are even longer! Whether you're hoping to get a good night's sleep, need to deal with cold sores, or even just want to add a little lemon taste to your dinner, lemon balm might be the answer.

Ahead, we break down everything you need to know about taking lemon balm.

What is lemon balm?

Lemon balm — aka Melissa officinalis, which is its scientific name — is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is known for its lemony aroma and flavour, which is why it is called "lemon balm".

When it comes to lemon balm uses, the list is long. Lemon balm leaves are often used in the cooking of savoury dishes and baked goods where the addition will add — you guessed it — a lemony flavour.

Lemon balm tea is also popular, as are herbal infusions and flavoured waters. Another way people use lemon balm is in aromatherapy. In this instance, lemon balm essential oils — which include citronellal and citral — are extracted from the plant's leaves.

The lemon balm plant is also a favourite of gardeners because it's a hardy, low-maintenance plant. In fact, a well-placed lemon balm plant in the garden can help attract pollinators — like bees and butterflies — while also repelling certain pests.

One of the most interesting lemon balm uses, though, is in its anti-stress effects and medicinal uses. Lemon balm has a long history of use in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits.

It's believed to have calming and soothing properties and is often used to relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Alternately, it can be used as an herbal remedy for an upset stomach or mild abdominal pain, and as a mild anti-inflammatory.

What are the benefits of lemon balm?

There are many ways you can use lemon balm to your benefit, which range from reducing stress to treating cold sores. Some of the main reasons people use lemon balm are:

Stress and anxiety relief

Lemon balm is often used for its calming and soothing properties. It may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, as well as PMS symptoms [2][7], and promote a sense of relaxation [1][3].

Improved sleep

Lemon balm is sometimes used to aid sleep and manage insomnia [1][5]. It may help promote better sleep quality and alleviate mild sleep disturbances when consumed, either in supplements or tea.

Digestive health

Lemon balm has been used to relieve digestive discomfort, including gas, bloating, and indigestion [2].

Cognitive function

Some research suggests that lemon balm may have a positive impact on cognitive function [4].

Antioxidant properties

Lemon balm contains various compounds with antioxidant properties, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Antioxidants help protect cells from oxidative stress [1].

Treating cold sores

Topical creams or ointments containing lemon balm extract have been used to speed up the healing process of cold sores (herpes labialis) and reduce discomfort associated with them [8].

Antibacterial effects

Lemon balm extracts have shown some antibacterial properties and may be used topically to treat minor skin irritations and infections [8][9].

Anti-inflammatory potential

Some studies suggest that lemon balm may have mild anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in reducing inflammation-related conditions [1].

Of course, it's always important to note that the effectiveness of lemon balm or any other herbal medicine can vary among individuals. Additionally, while lemon balm is generally considered a safe and effective treatment when used appropriately, there is a possibility of allergic reaction, and it may interact with certain medications, particularly thyroid medications.

Before using lemon balm for medicinal purposes, especially in larger quantities, it's always a good idea to check in with a healthcare professional, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking any medications.

Sources of lemon balm

With so many potential benefits, there are plenty of lemon balm sources you can try out. Whether it's fresh leaves from your herb garden, dried in tea, or even in a lip balm, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) can be obtained from various sources.

Here are common sources of lemon balm:

Home garden

Lemon balm is an easy-to-grow addition to any herb garden. You can plant lemon balm seeds or purchase young lemon balm plants from a nursery.

Once established, it can be harvested by plucking the fresh leaves as needed. Next thing you know, you'll be adding chopped lemon balm leaves to your salads, and Googling lemon balm recipes!

Farmers' markets

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. As many local farmers' markets sell fresh herbs, you can often find Melissa officinalis during the growing season.


Some well-stocked supermarkets or specialty grocery stores may carry fresh lemon balm in the produce section, especially during the summer months.

Online retailers

You can purchase fresh lemon balm plants or dried lemon balm leaves from online retailers and have them shipped to your home.

Dried lemon balm

Dried lemon balm leaves are available in various forms, including loose leaves, tea bags, or as part of herbal tea blends and herbal remedies.

You can find dried lemon balm at health food stores, online herbal shops, or in the herbal tea section of your local grocery store.

Lemon balm essential oil

Lemon balm extract comes from the leaves of the plant, which can then be turned into an essential oil. You can find lemon balm essential oil at health food stores, online, or at specialty stores that sell essential oils.

Lemon balm supplements

Lemon balm supplements, such as capsules or tablets, are available in health food stores and online retailers.

These supplements may provide standardised doses of lemon balm extract for specific health benefits. One example is Kin's Deep Sleep, which is a natural supplement that helps to induce a relaxing sleep.

Lemon balm-infused products

Lemon balm makes for a welcome addition to many topical treatments, including lotions, creams, balms, and lip balm, where the pleasant aroma (and taste, in the case of lip balm) is a draw.

These can often be found in stores specialising in natural and organic products.

What's the best way to use lemon balm for improved sleep?

There are plenty of ways to use lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) to promote relaxation and improve sleep. Our favourite, of course, is Kin's Deep Sleep supplement, which is a great support for a good night’s rest.

Kin's blend of lemon balm with other key ingredients means that Deep Sleep will help with muscle relaxation, alleviate symptoms of mild stress, calm the mind, and help induce a relaxing sleep.

However, there are other ways to use lemon balm for improved sleep, also, which include:

  • Lemon balm tea: You can easily make lemon balm tea at home by steeping chopped lemon balm leaves in hot water for 5-10 minutes. You can use fresh or dry lemon balm for this. You can use 1-2 teaspoons of dry lemon balm leaves or a handful of fresh, finely chopped leaves per cup of water. Drink the tea about half an hour before bedtime. You can also add a little raw honey for taste if you'd like.
  • Lemon balm tincture: Lemon balm tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of the herb. Mix the recommended amount of tincture with water or a herbal tea and consume it before bedtime.
  • Lemon balm oil: Use a few drops of lemon balm oil in an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom. The pleasant aroma can help create a calming atmosphere that may contribute to better sleep.
  • Lemon balm recipes: From salad dressings to baked goods, lemon balm recipes can be a great way to introduce this plant extract into your life. While this won't have an immediate sleep-inducing effect, consuming lemon balm-containing foods as part of a meal can be a pleasant way to enjoy its flavour, and may help alleviate stress [6].
  • Lemon balm bath: Add dried lemon balm leaves or a few drops of lemon balm essential oil to your bathwater for a relaxing soak before bedtime.
  • Lemon balm pillow sachet: Create your own lemon balm sachet by placing dried lemon balm leaves inside a small cloth bag or sachet pouch. Place the sachet under your pillow or near your bedside to enjoy the calming scent as you sleep.

Are there any side effects of lemon balm?

Using lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is generally considered safe for most people when used appropriately and in moderation. However, like many other herbs and natural remedies, it can have side effects or interact with certain medications or conditions in some individuals.

Primarily, lemon balm has the potential to interfere with thyroid function. Therefore, anyone dealing with thyroid disease or taking a thyroid medication should avoid lemon balm, at least until they've had a chance to consult a healthcare provider [10].

Other potential side effects can include allergic reactions, rare gastrointestinal symptoms, and photosensitivity.

Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding women should exercise caution when using lemon balm or any other herbal combination. It's important to use lemon balm in moderation and be aware of how it affects your body, especially if you are new to using herbal remedies.

Additionally, be cautious with the dosage and follow recommended guidelines to minimise the risk of side effects. It's also worth noting that while lemon balm is an effective treatment for daily stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances, anyone dealing with chronic or acute sleep problems should speak to a healthcare provider, as they'll be able to rule out any sleep disorders.

Photo credit: Samson Katt / Pexels

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