In clinical practice, lemon balm is often prescribed in combination with other herbs such as valerian in the treatment of insomnia. As a reflection of this, a randomised, double-blind multicentre study investigated the effects of a commercial valerian and lemon balm herbal combination (Songha Night) in 98 healthy subjects (Cerny & Schmid 1999). Treatment was administered over a 30-day period and consisted of 3 tablets taken half an hour before bedtime, providing a total dose of 1-6 g valerian and 1-2 g lemon balm. Herbal treatment was found to significantly improve sleep quality and was well tolerated.
Another randomised, double-blind crossover study found that the same combination of valerian and lemon balm taken over 9 nights was as effective as triazolam in the treatment of insomnia (Dressing et al 1992). The dose used was equivalent to 1.4 g dried valerian and 0.9 g dried lemon balm.
As with all herbal combination studies, it is difficult to determine the contribution each individual herb made to the end result. As such, these studies are encouraging but the role of lemon balm as a stand-alone treatment for insomnia remains unclear.
Commission E approves the use of lemon balm in the treatment of insomnia (Blumenthal etal 2000).
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