Lemon Balm

Our rating
 Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.

What is it?

Lemon balm (Latin name: Melissa officinalis) is a type of mint. Its leaves have traditionally been used as a herbal remedy, including for depression and anxiety.

How does it work?

It is not clear how lemon balm might help depression.

Is it effective?

There is very little scientific evidence on whether lemon balm works for depression. One small study gave people with heart disease either lemon balm extract or a placebo, and found that people who took the lemon balm had slightly lower symptoms of depression compared to those who took the placebo. However, not all of the people who took part in this study had clinical depression.

More evidence of better quality is needed to better understand how lemon balm might help depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

Dietary supplements and herbal remedies may produce side effects or have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements. If you are thinking of using lemon balm, ask your doctor or pharmacist it if might interfere with other medications or supplements you are taking.

Where do you get it?

You can buy lemon balm as a tea, supplement or extract from health food shops.

Recommendation

Given the lack of evidence on lemon balm, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Haybar H, Javid AZ, Haghighizadeh MH, Valizadeh E, Mohaghegh SM, Mohammadzadeh A. The effects of Melissa officinalis supplementation on depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with chronic stable angina. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. 2018; 26: 47-52.

Last reviewed and updated: 1 November 2019