Pregnancy Use

Safety has not been scientifically established and is unknown. PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Lemon balm has been used traditionally to treat insomnia, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and dementia. It is also used to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms associated with spasms and nervousness.

• Used topically as a cold sore treatment, it significantly reduces symptoms, shortens the healing period and prevents infection spread. It may be suitable both as an active treatment and as a preventative agent in cases of chronic recurrent herpes simplex infections.

• Lemon balm may have some anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic activity.

• The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety and promote calm and a sense of wellbeing, which has been confirmed in one clinical study.

• One clinical study has found that it can modulate both mood and cognitive performance in a dose- and time-dependent manner.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this herb do for me?

Lemon balm has several different actions and Is used for a number of different conditions. Taking the herb internally may help reduce anxiety and improve mood and mental concentration. When taken together with valerian, it can relieve insomnia. It may also relieve stomach spasms associated with nervousness, or in chronic, non-specific colitis when taken as part of a specific herbal combination. Melissa cream applied four times daily to herpes simplex infections can reduce symptoms, accelerate healing and reduce the chance of the infection spreading. When will it start to work?

Approximately 1 month's treatment with the essential oil is required for calming effects on agitation in dementia to be seen. Taken internally with valerian, effects on sleep may be seen after 9 days' use. Improved memory occurred within 2.5 hours according to one study; however, it is not known if and when effects are seen in dementia. Melissa cream has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of herpes simplex within 2 days, when applied fourtimes daily. Are there any safety issues?

One study using lemon balm in tablet form found that it was well tolerated. Drug interactions are theoretically possible and this herb should be used cautiously in people with hypothyroidism.

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