After watching, and hearing from clients about the Dr. Oz segment on “Middle Age Cures”, I feel I have to write more on the subject. Dr. Oz is correct in only one way, lemon balm is used for anxiety or stress, it would be taken orally, but only as a tea or a tincture. A tincture is what they were actually giving the woman on the show. I know they showed the bottle marked “Lemon Balm Oil”, but this was totally, and irresponsibly wrong.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is used by herbalists as a herbal nervine. A nervine is an herb that works on helping the nervous system combat stress and nervous exhaustion. Lemon balm makes a wonderful nerve tonic. Lemon balm is calming, and soothes the nerves. It is considered a sedative herb. One, however, does not take it in oil form. There are many herbal nervines that can be used.
Lemon balm makes a slightly lemony tea flavor tea. You many drink 3-5 cups a day to combat anxiety. Any more than that would be overdoing it. More does not equal better or faster results.
As a tincture, lemon balm is concentrated into alcohol. The herb soaks in vodka, brandy, or grain alcohol for 4-6 weeks to absorb the medicinal value of the herb. It is then strained and bottled into a dark glass jar. A tincture has a shelf life of about 5 years.
On the Dr. Oz segment, he put too many droppers into her glass. The dosage for lemon balm tincture (and most other tinctures) would be 1-2 droppers 3-4 times a day. It is normally suggested by an herbalist to put into warm water, or a tea. This helps the alcohol to evaporate. Lemon balm, can also be taken as a glycerite, if you are sensitve to alcohol. A glycerite is made using vegetable glycerin, or sometimes honey. The dosage would be the same. While lemon balm can be mixed with other herbs, it should be used alone at first to see the results. If it is to be mixed, it should be mixed by someone with herbal knowledge. Mixing too many sedative herbs can harm you.
Lemon balm oil is meant to treat skin inflammations such as bites, scratches, and minor wounds. It is also widely used for herpes, herpes cold sores and shingles. Lemon balm oil contains eugenol, which kills bacteria and has been shown to calm muscles and numb tissues. It also contains tannins that contribute to its antiviral effects, as well as terpenes that add to its soothing effects on the skin. It is made using a carrier oil such as sweet almond or apricot. It steeps in the oil for 8 weeks. It is then strained. It is also made into a ointment and salve for use on the skin. It is never to be taken orally.
Please remember, herbs are potent medicine, and must be used with respect. More, does not equal better results. You can overdose on herbs the same way you can with prescription drugs. It is best to find a clinical herbalist, or other health care professional with extensive knowledge in herbs before taking any herbal regimen.
Lemon balm, and other sedative herbs should not be taken if you are taking prescription sedatives. The two combined will make you very ill.
People who have thyroid issues and are on medication, should not take lemon balm. It interacts with the absorbtion of the mediciation.
These are two very important factors that should have been mentioned on the show!