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Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), balm, common balm, or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae and native to south-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, and Central Asia. The leaves have a mild lemon scent similar to mint. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear.

The leaves are used as a herb, in teas, and also as a flavouring. The plant is used to attract bees for honey production. It is grown as an ornamental plant and for its oil which is favored in perfumery. The tea of lemon balm, the essential oil, and the extract are used in traditional and alternative medicine, including aromatherapy. The plant has been cultivated at least since the 16th century, but research is still being conducted to establish the safety and effects of lemon balm.

Sources date the medicinal use of lemon balm to over 2000 years ago through the Greeks and Romans. Further mention is found in Theophrastus’s Historia Plantarum, dated to around 300 BC. Lemon balm was formally introduced into Spain in the 7th century, from which its use and domestication spread throughout Europe. Its use in the Middle Ages is noted by herbalists, writers, philosophers, and scientists, with Swiss physician and alchemist, Paracelsus, deeming it the “elixir of life”. Lemon balm was introduced to North America with the arrival of early colonists, and is recorded to have been among the herbs cultivated in Thomas Jefferson’s garden.

In traditional Austrian medicine, M. officinalis leaves have been prescribed for internal use—as a tea—or external application—as an essential oil—for the treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, liver, and bile. Lemon balm is the main ingredient of Carmelite water, which is still for sale in German pharmacies. [1, 2]

Lemon balm contains eugenol, tannins, and terpenes. It also contains (+)-citronellal, 1-octen-3-ol, 10-α-cadinol, 3-octanol, 3-octanone, α-cubebene, α-humulene, β-bourbonene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, catechin, chlorogenic acid, cis-3-hexenol, cis-ocimene, citral A, citral B, copaene, δ-cadinene, eugenyl acetate, γ-cadinene, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, germacrene D, isogeranial, linalool, luteolin-7-glucoside, methylheptenone, neral, nerol, octyl benzoate, oleanolic acid, pomolic acid ((1R)-hydroxyursolic acid), protocatechuic acid, rhamnazin, rosmarinic acid, stachyose, succinic acid, thymol, trans-ocimene and ursolic acid. Lemon balm may contain traces of harmine.[36]

Rosmarinic acid appears to be the most important active component, but the interaction of chemicals within lemon balm, and with chemicals in other herbs with which it has been commonly used in traditional medicines, is poorly understood. Lemon balm leaf contains roughly 36.5 ± 0.8 mg rosmarinic acid per gram.

Find Organic Lemon Balm Extract in the following BVO Products.


For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.