If you’re looking to shake up your herb garden this year, consider adding lemon balm, a member of the mint family known for its calming properties. The light-colored herb is like mint but has a lemony flavor and aroma, making it a delicious addition to any summer meal. “Lemon balm goes well in any recipe where you would use fresh mint or basil,” says Jen Lavardera, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist for Daily Harvest. “Cut it and toss it in a fruit salad or green salad, make a pesto with it, use it as a side dish for chicken or fish, or add it to water with berries.”
It can be difficult to find fresh lemon balm at the grocery store, so if you have a backyard (or fire escape) consider growing your own. “Lemon Balm is easy to grow and makes a unique addition to an herb garden,” says Laverra. Plant this high yielding herb in a pot like mint to keep it from taking over your garden as it has been known to spread.
How Lemon Balm Benefits Your Health
While lemon balm is most widely studied for its ability to relieve anxiety and induce a sense of calm, according to LaVardera, there are a variety of potential benefits that the citrus herb offers:
1. Lemon Balm improves cognition and alertness
According to a 2014 study, lemon balm may help improve memory, alertness, and cognitive performance in healthy adults. “The advantage probably lies in the many complex mechanisms involved in interactions with neurotransmitters in the brain,” says LaVardera.
2. It can help you sleep
Sipping on powdered lemon balm leaves before bed may promote better sleep, although more research is needed. “A study of 100 women ages 50 to 60, all of whom complained of trouble sleeping, found that participants who received lemon balm slept better than the placebo group,” says Laverdera. In the study, lemon balm was combined with valerian, another calming herb.
3. It is calming and stress reducing
Lemon balm’s soothing properties may be due in part to a polyphenol in lemon balm called rosmarinic acid. “Rosmarinic acid inhibits an enzyme in the brain called GABA transaminase, also known as GABA-T,” says LaVardera. “GABA-T helps break down GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows brain activity.” When you inhibit the enzyme, there’s more GABA in the brain — which means more sedation.
4. Lemon balm can increase your happiness
In addition to its calming effects, a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis found that lemon balm may help lower levels of depression and anxiety, particularly in an acute situation — that is, lemon balm for chronic anxiety and depression. Can’t help but be effective in a very short time.
5. It’s great for heart health
A 2020 analysis of seven randomized controlled trials found that lemon balm may help lower total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, which promotes better heart health. “Researchers suspect that these benefits are due to the active phytochemicals in lemon balm, such as triterpenes, flavonols and phenolic acids,” explains Lavardera.
LaVardera reminds us that while lemon balm is generally safe for most people, if you’re taking any medications that may interact with herbs, consult your doctor before trying anything new. is the best practice.
5 delicious lemon balm recipes to try
Lemon balm tea
You can buy lemon balm tea or make your own tea by steeping fresh or dried leaves in hot water. If using dried leaves, use just one tablespoon per two cups of tea, and double the amount if using fresh leaves. If you have chamomile tea or valerian tea, you can add lemon balm for a calming sleep elixir. Add a touch of honey and a squeeze of lemon for a slightly sweet sip.
Learn more about the benefits of sipping lemon balm tea according to a herbalist in this video:
Lemon Balm Pesto
There are countless uses for this fresh and minty pesto recipe. “I love a good pesto over pasta, but I also spice up pesto with grilled broccoli for a summery vegetable dish that goes with pretty much anything!” Lavardera says. You can top the egg with a dollop of pesto or add it to avocado toast.
Get the recipe: Lemon Balm Pesto
Photo: Where’s my spoon
Honey Lemon Balm Squirt
If you don’t feel like hot tea, try this refreshing spritzer, which will help you cool off and relax on a hot afternoon. Add some mint for an extra bright punch, or even some vodka or gin for a summer cocktail.
Get the recipe: Honey Lemon Balm Squirt
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Lemon balm butter with garlic
If you’re looking for a way to add lemon balm to anything, you need this Lemon Balm Butter recipe. The combination of fresh lemon balm, garlic and other aromatic herbs sets this butter apart. Use it to top grilled meat or fish, grilled vegetables, pasta or make the most delicious garlic bread ever. Once you’ve made this buttercream, it will keep in the fridge for a while, so make a large batch – trust us, you won’t want to run out.
Get the recipe: Lemon balm butter with garlic
Photo: Healing tomatoes
Fried chicken with lemon balm
When you have fresh lemon balm on hand, you have everything you need to turn any meal into a breezy celebration. This entree recipe takes plain rotisserie chicken and topped it with a simple blend of lemon balm, scallions, salt and pepper. The recipe calls for cooking in a cast iron skillet, but feel free to use a grill over high heat for extra heat.
Get the recipe: Lemon Balm Roasted Chicken
Photo: The delicious eater
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