Lemon Balm has been traditionally used to improve mood and cognitive function but did you know this powerful herb has been studied for other potential health benefits. Research shows it could provide natural relief for women experiencing Premenstrual Syndrome and much more. We explore the science behind lemon balm in supporting female health.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common conditions among females before menopause.
- Research suggests daily use of lemon balm could help alleviate menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms.
- In a separate study, women experiencing sexual dysfunction who supplemented with lemon balm reported significant improvements in desire and satisfaction.
Chances are if you have not experienced a female health condition, you know someone who does. Female health conditions can be described as a group of conditions that affect quality of life and are often related to disrupted hormone production. These include premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and sexual dysfunction.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be extremely distressing and affect the quality of life for the days preceding and during menstruation. The syndrome is characterised by feelings of irritation, tension, and low mood, but also often includes pain in the pelvis, breasts, back and lower stomach. These symptoms occur during the luteal phase, which is the week or so running up to menstruation. In this period serotonin levels drop, while progesterone and oestrogen rise, if pregnancy does not occur menstruation is triggered by a drop in both progesterone and oestrogen. It is disruption in these hormonal changes that are suggested to be the root cause of PMS.
Chances are, sufferers of PMS feel powerless and that nothing can be done to offer relief, but research findings may offer a solution, in the form of the prolific herb lemon balm. This recent investigation into the effect of lemon balm on PMS symptoms in a group of teenage females not only reported a reduction in the intensity of PMS symptoms, but also relief from physical, social and psychological symptoms, which include pain, social interactions, and mood. As quickly as by the first and second month of lemon balm use, the intensity of the PMS symptoms were decreased by one third, while by the third month they were decreased by two thirds.
These results show that relief can be offered as quickly as within one menstrual cycle from the daily use of lemon balm. It is considered that lemon balm supports the production of GABA, a non-excitatory neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of calmness and focus. Such feelings are considered to help with the relief of pain and disrupted mood.
A taboo subject, yet sexual dysfunction is more common than thought. It is considered to affect between 25-65% of women worldwide. Common causes are stress, medication, and the menopause. Despite a large proportion of affected women, few seek help and pressure is placed on relationships and self-confidence when left unaddressed.
Lemon balm has the reputation for be calming and useful in episodes of anxiety and so, researchers were interested in the herb and whether it could be useful in cases of female sexual dysfunction.
They went on to publish research that showed a significant improvement in desire, satisfaction, lubrication, and orgasm were reported in response to lemon balm use. The authors suggested that normal lemon balm metabolism can promote circulating acetylcholine levels and bind muscarinic receptors, which is known to improve cognition, and may also produce the physical changes that resulted in improved sexual arousal. Subsequently, it was considered that regular lemon balm intake would be beneficial in episodes of low sexual desire.
It is common for women to be given pain killers to address a female health condition, and often without an evaluation to identify the primary causes of the symptoms. It is this lack of interest that not only negates trust and loyalty, but also affects self-esteem.
The identification of natural compounds that offer relief from these symptoms may have a two-fold effect; the empowerment of females over their own health and the comfort in the knowledge that those affected are introducing a natural and well tolerated herb, such as lemon balm, as an easy to access solution.
Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.
Akbarzadeh M, Dehghani M, Moshfeghy Z, Emamghoreishi M, Tavakoli P, Zare N. Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students. Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2015 Jun;4(2):e27001.
Darvish-Mofrad-Kashani Z, Emaratkar E, Hashem-Dabaghian F, Emadi F, Raisi F, Aliasl J, Kamalinejad M, Hasheminejad SA, Eftekhar T, Zafarghandi N. Effect of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) on Sexual Dysfunction in Women: A Double- blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Iran J Pharm Res. 2018 Winter;17(Suppl):89-100.
The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.