Lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis ) is a medicinal plant belonging to the Labiateae family. The name derives from the Greek, meli, which means honey, to indicate, probably, the scent of the plant that attracts bees. Today it is known for its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is used in the treatment of many ailments. Let’s find out the characteristics and side effects of lemon balm.
Lemon balm: characteristics and properties
Lemon balm is a perennial herbaceous plant with a bushy habit. The stem is quadrangular and hairy, the leaves are petiolate, oval and hairy, the flowers, in the shape of a goblet, have a slight pale pink shade.
An essential oil is extracted from the lemon balm leaves, which is very useful in case of anxiety. Furthermore, the lemon balm plant has an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and carminative action useful against menstrual pain, neuralgia, digestive disorders, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramps and colitis.
The extract of fresh lemon balm leaves has antiviral activity, due to the presence of polyphenolic acids and polysaccharides, useful in the treatment of Herpes simplex.
The side effects of lemon balm
Lemon balm can have a particular side effect known as the paradox effect. In case of excessive intake, in fact, lemon balm can cause an effect opposite to the desired one, thus causing anxiety and agitation.
Furthermore, lemon balm is contraindicated in the case of patients with thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism, and its essential oil is to be avoided in case of glaucoma, because it can increase intraocular pressure.