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.


The rating system

  • 3 smiliesThese treatments are very useful. They are strongly supported as effective by scientific evidence.
  • 2 smiliesThese treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence as effective, but the evidence is not as strong.
  • 1 smileyThese treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
  • No smiley On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
  • Question markThese treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.
  • Exclamation MarkSafety or other concerns have been raised for the use of these treatments.

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 limited scientific evidence about whether lemon balm works for depression. A review of three small studies found that participants who were treated with lemon balm showed more improvement in depression symptoms compared to those who took a placebo (dummy pill). However, not all of the people who took part in these studies had clinical depression.

A more recent study of adults with diabetes and depression symptom found that those that took lemon balm experienced a greater reduction in depression symptoms than those who took a placebo. However, this study only included a small number of participants.

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 if it 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.


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

Key references

  • Beihaghi M, Yousefzade S, Mazloom SR, Gharavi MM, Hamedi SS. The Effect of Melissa Officinalis on Postpartum Blues in Women Undergoing Cesarean Section. Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health. 2019; 7(2):1656-63.
  • Ghazizadeh J, Sadigh‐Eteghad S, Marx W, Fakhari A, Hamedeyazdan S, Torbati M, et al. The effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) on depression and anxiety in clinical trials: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Phytotherapy Research. 2021; 35(12):6690-705.
  • 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.
  • Safari M, Asadi A, Aryaeian N, Huseini HF, shidfar F, Jazayeri S, et al. The effects of melissa officinalis on depression and anxiety in type 2 diabetes patients with depression: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2023; 23(1):140-.

Last reviewed and updated: 28 August 2023