Lemon balm is an herb that has long been known for its culinary uses and aromatic qualities. The ancient Greeks relied on it to treat insomnia, alleviate anxiety, and to calm nerves. Recent studies have shown that lemon balm is rich in volatile oils (terpenes) which have relaxing properties and are effective in alleviating stress. Over 100 years ago in Europe, alcoholic tinctures of lemon balm were combined with lemon peel, angelica root, and nutmeg to make “Carmelite water” (a 19th century tonic for migraine headache and neuralgia). In a 2003 study taking lemon balm extract orally (60 drops daily for 4 months), symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were alleviated.
Lemon balm can grow in most gardens and is a delight to harvest fresh to use in cooking and home remedies. You can make an excellent, refreshing tea with lemon balm and stevia. However, make sure the product you are using is lemon balm and not the less expensive citronella.