Melissa officinalis

Plant Name

Melissa officinalis L.

Botanical Info

Perennial herbaceous, essential oil containing plant, grows up to 70–150 cm tall.


Central and Southern Europe, the Balkans, Iran, North Africa, North America, as well as the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia. Grows along the edges of forests, forest ravines, shady canyons, prefers clay and loamy soils with adequate moisture.

Chemical Content

Melissa officinalis contains eugenol ,1-octen-3-ol, 10-alpha-cadinol, 3-octanol, 3-octanone, alpha-cubebene, alpha-humulene, beta-bourbonene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, catechinene, chlorogenic acid, cis-3-hexenol, cis-ocimene, citral A, citral B, citronellal, copaene, delta-cadinene, eugenyl acetate, gamma-cadinene, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, germacrene D, isogeranial, linalool, luteolin-7-glucoside, methylheptenone, neral, nerol, octyl benzoate, oleanolic acid, pomolic acid, protocatechuic acid, rhamnazine, rosmarinic acid, rosmarinin acid, stachyose, succinic acid, thymol, trans-ocimene and ursolic acid.

Traditional Use and Activity

Used as an anxiolytic, mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective for reducing stress, although the study’s authors call for further research. Lemon balm extract was identified as a potent inhibitor of GABA transaminase, which explains anxiolytic effects. The major compound responsible for GABA transaminase inhibition activity in lemon balm is rosmarinic acid. Lemon balm and preparations thereof also have been shown to improve mood and mental performance. These effects are believed to involve muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Positive results have been achieved in a small clinical trial involving Alzheimer patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The extract of lemon balm was also found to have exceptionally high antioxidant activity. The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos.