Over the years, I’ve had many friends ask me about natural supplements to relieve anxiety. That’s not surprising.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in America. About 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.[i]
If you go to a doctor, he or she will likely put you on an anti-anxiety medication (benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium).
These drugs cause side effects such as dizziness, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness.
Also, benzos are dangerously addictive. About one-third of people who take them for six months or longer will have serious withdrawal symptoms such as seizures when they try to quit.[ii]
I often recommend my friends try lemon balm before resorting to medication.
Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb. It’s related to the mint plant. It’s commonly used in traditional medicine to improve mood, cognition, and related issues.
Let’s look at the scientific backing:
- A study published in the journal Nutrients looked at subjects suffering from stress and anxiety. Researchers gave some lemon balm beverages. They gave placebo drinks to others. The lemon balm group reported better mood and reduced anxiety.[iii]Researchers from Italy’s San Martino University Hospital recruited volunteers with anxiety disorders. The subjects took a daily lemon balm supplement. All but one of them reported their anxiety was eliminated.[iv]
- A study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism gave lemon balm to patients suffering from sleep disturbances. Researchers found the herb increased gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). That’s a neurotransmitter that fosters a calming, relaxing effect. Eighty-five percent of the patients slept better.[v]
- Panic attacks. Research published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology looked at people suffering from panic attack symptoms caused by heart palpitations. The subjects were randomly assigned to take either lemon balm or a placebo. After two weeks, the lemon balm group had reduced instances of heart palpitations. The herb worked by decreasing anxiety and the processes that cause irregular heartbeats.[vi] [vii]
- Memory and cognition problems. A study from Britain’s University of Northumbria gave college students memory and cognitive tests. Researchers then gave some of the students lemon balm. Others took a placebo. A second round of testing showed the lemon balm group had improved their recall and thinking skills.[viii]
Lemon balm supplements are widely available from online retailers and health food stores. There are some proprietary formulations under different names, such as Bluenesse.
For anxiety, researchers have found that you should take 300 to 600 mg three times daily. Otherwise, follow the label directions.
Lemon balm is well-tolerated by most people. But side effects such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and increased body temperature are possible. You can minimize the risk by taking lemon balm with food and keeping your daily dosage under 2,000 mg.
Experts say you should take a week off from lemon balm after every three weeks on it. And talk to your doctor before using it.
Anxiety and mood issues can make your life miserable. Lemon balm is the natural way to optimal brain health.