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Health Benefits of Lemon Balm and Hibiscus

HerbClip Issue 708 contains reviews of two herbs which are readily obtainable and easy to consume as herbal influsions.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae) has been used for its effects on the central nervous system, such as sedation and memory improvement. Its volatile oils, triterpenes, and phenolic compounds are responsible for many of lemon balm’s health benefits, including its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.1 It may help manage diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer's disease. Lemon balm contains a number of phytochemicals, including volatile compounds (such as neral, geranial, citronellal), phenolic acids (such as rosmarinic acid), and flavonoids (such as luteolin), which make the herb beneficial in the food and cosmetic industries. Lemon balm’s health benefits include anxiolytic, antioxidant, antidepressant, anti-epileptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, hypolipidemic, and hypoglycemic properties.

Clinical trials have focused on the effects of lemon balm extracts against ailments related to neurological disorders, as well as metabolic problems and infantile colic. For centuries, lemon balm was used to improve memory, cognition, anxiety, depression, and heart palpitations. The effectiveness of lemon balm against heart palpitations and in improving memory, anxiety, brain function, and sleep quality has been verified in human trials, according to the authors. In two cited studies, crying time significantly decreased in children with infantile colic treated with lemon balm. See HC 082232-708.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae) contains phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, organic acids, and dietary fiber.2 Several studies have documented the ethnopharmacological efficacy of hibiscus for a range of effects. Hibiscus has been consumed in hot and cold drinks, tea, jellies, jams, sauces, wines, syrups, ice cream, and chutneys. Traditionally, it is prepared as a decoction, infusion, or maceration. Therapeutic properties include as an antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antioxidant, laxative, antispasmodic, diuretic, hepatoprotective, antianemic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antitussive, choleretic, antipyretic, hypotensive, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective agent.

In clinical trials, hibiscus has been found to prevent or control chronic non-communicable diseases through its antihypertensive, antidyslipidemic, hypoglycemic, antianemic, nephroprotective, antioxidant, anti-xerostomic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been shown to have an effect on body fat mass reduction. See HC 072256-708.

Lori Glenn
HerbClip™ Managing Editor


1Zam W, Quispe C, Sharifi-Rad J, et al. An updated review on the properties of Melissa officinalis L.: not exclusively anti-anxiety. Front Biosci (Schol Ed). June 7, 2022;14(2):16. doi: 10.31083/j.fbs1402016.

2Montalvo-González E, Villagrán Z, González-Torres S, et al. Physiological effects and human health benefits of Hibiscus sabdariffa: A review of clinical trials. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). April 2022;15(4):464. doi:10.3390/ph15040464.