Melissa officinalis provides relief for tenseness, restlessness and irritability.

What is Melissa officinalis?

Melissa officinalis, also known as Lemon balm, is a perennial herb native to Southern Europe and North Africa.

The leaves of the plant are deeply wrinkled and look similar to mint leaves. When the leaves are rubbed together they have a lemon-like tart and sweet smell.1 Lemon balm leaves have a mild sedative, spasmolytic, antibacterial and antiviral effect.2

The history of Melissa officinalis

Melissa officinalis was used in traditional medicine dating as far back as ancient Greek and Roman times, used to lift spirits, heal wounds and treat venomous insect bites. During the middle ages, it was considered a calming herb to treat indigestion, reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep and improve appetite.1

Today, Lemon balm is often combined with other herbs to promote relaxation. Extracts of Lemon balm have been used for decades for the treatment of various disorders, such as tension, restlessness and irritability or to help falling asleep, particularly during temporary stress situations.3

The specific standardised extract used by Flordis

Flordis uses the dried leaves of Lemon balm and a standardised process to extract the compounds used in Songha® Night. The principle chemical compounds in the extract used by Flordis include rosmarinic acid, and essential oils (composed of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes).

Specific standardised extracts of Melissa officinalis are used in a fixed combination in the product Songha Night by Flordis and have been clinically proven for relief of sleep disturbances.

As Flordis uses a fixed Valerian-Lemon balm extract combination as a sleep aid, this particular extract combination as a whole is considered to have pharmacological activity.3

Several clinical studies have shown the beneficial therapeutic effect of the combination of both extracts for quality of sleep, less daytime sleepiness and anxiety.3-5

A synergistic effect of the combination of Lemon balm and Valerian has been clinically proven.1,6

How it works

Anxiety and related disorders often occur from low levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).8

One of the mechanisms to increase GABA levels in the brain and potentially control anxiety is to inhibit the enzyme GABA transaminase (GABA-T).

In vitro studies have demonstrated Lemon balm extract acts by inhibiting GABA-T, increasing the availability of GABA in the space between nerves in the brain with a favouring sleep effect.8,9

Further in vivo and in vitro studies are needed to confirm the GABA-T inhibitory actions of lemon balm extracts in brain cells.

Key studies on Melissa officinalis

Clinical trials have investigated the effect of Lemon balm on mood. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found healthy people who received a single dose of 600 mg of lemon balm extract had significantly increased calmness and alertness after seven days in comparison to placebo (no treatment).7


References

1. Data on file.  2. Ulbricht C, Brendler T, Lafferty HJ. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;5(4):71-114.
3. Shakeri A, Sahebkar A, Javadi B. Melissa officinalis L. - A review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Jul 21;188:204-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.05.010. Epub 2016 May 7.  4. Schwander J Mann C, The pupil unrest index as a measure of sleep restoration in patients with psychophysiological insomnia KSM Zurzack Poster abstract 1999.  5. Kennedy DO. Little W. Haskell CF et al. Anxiolytic effects of a combination of Melissa officinalis and valeriana officinalis during laboratory induced stress Phytother Res 2006; 20(2):96-102.  6. Lucini, V, Dugnani A, Vignutelli A, et al. Hypothesis of the mechanisms of action of Melissa officinalis and Valeriana officinalis in the treatment of sleep disorders. International Conference on Advances in Plant Science, November 14-18, 2012, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Abstract and Poster.  7. Kennedy DO Wake G Savelev S et al,. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties Neuropsychopharmacology 2003;28(10):1871-81.  8. Awad R. et al Bioassay-guided fractionation of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) using an in vitro measure of GABA transaminase activity Phytother Res 2009;23(8):1075-81.  9. P
annacci M. et al. Effects of valeriana officinalis and Melissa officinalis (the active ingredients of Songha night) alone or in combination on glutamate binding and GABA-T activity 2012 Poster presentation at International Conference on Advances in Plant Science November 14-18 Chiang Mai Thailand