Everyone has some. A lot of people have too much of the bad kind (yes, there's a good variety!). Some people don't get it under control and it becomes the catalyst for a whole myriad of health problems.
I had always heard how detrimental too much stress can be, but it took a while to sink in. I have been slowly working on my stress levels ever since I finally "got it". Yoga, meditation (try www.calm.com), Tai Chu Chuan Yang Style 24, saying "no" to things I want to say yes to but know how much more full it will make my plate, etc. This is a work in progress and will likely be for some time.
Thankfully, God planted a pharmacy for us quite some time ago. All we have to do is learn what plants (or minerals, etc) are available for what ails us. Amazingly, there is almost always more than one "aid" out there for us. They can come in the form of dried herbs or liquid extracts, homeopathic remedies or simply FOOD. It's truly fantastic how many options we have to get healthy and then THRIVE.
I want to highlight Lemon Balm today. It is in the same family as sage, mint and marjoram. Melissa officinalis or lemon balm has been around and been used by many cultures for centuries. The Greeks used it to calm their nerves and alleviate anxiety and insomnia. It's also used to improve appetite and ease gas and bloating after eating. Lemon balm has also been shown to shorten healing time and prevent recurrent cold sores when used in a lip balm, as well as reduce agitation and improve symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer's. It has also historically been said to be a fever reducer, antibacterial, spasmolytic, hypotensive, memory-enhancer, menstrual-inducer and possess thyroid-related effects (meaning those with thyroid conditions will likely want to avoid it until they have regained thyroid health).
Some studies on this plant to note include one double-blind placebo-controlled study that looked at lemon balm and valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and their anti-anxiety effects. The study found that a lower dose (600mg) of lemon balm and valerian effectively reduced anxiety but a higher dose (1800mg) was associated with a small increase in anxiety. This is a prime example of natural medicine where more does NOT always mean better.
Another study, done in children, studied the effects of a lemon balm/valerian combination on sleep problems and restlessness. More than 900 children were studied, and the combination was found to improve sleep problems in 80% of children and restlessness in 70%.
A couple other studies regarding help with digestive discomfort include a small study which found that a blend containing lemon balm, spearmint and coriander alleviated the severity and frequency of abdominal pain and discomfort of IBS better than placebo. Another study found that breast-fed infants with colic who were given a blend of fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile twice a day for a week cried less than other breast-fed infants with colic.
Lemon Balm extract was even featured on Dr. Oz several months ago. He shared that "it works similarly to prescription stress medications like Valium, binding to brain receptors that calm you down and reduce anxiety."
You can grow this in your garden, or in a container on your patio if you don't have a garden. You can even grow it indoors. I get pretty excited about plants I can grow all year round!
Once the plant is ready you can use fresh or dried leaves to make a tea, extract or tincture...and even a spritzer!
Lemon Balm Tea Recipe/Instructions:
1. Gather 5 loosely packed cups of leaves
2. Rinse them in cold water and set aside
3. Boil 6 cups of water
4. Submerge the leaves in the boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes
5. Remove the leaves and pour some into a mug to drink or into a glass container to cool in the refrigerator if it's summer and the thought of hot tea...is not so pleasant.
Of course, you can also simply buy the extract!
I have found Mountain Rose Herbs to be a very trustworthy and reliable source for high quality herbs, extracts, tinctures, oils and the like. You can find 1oz ($9.25) and 4oz ($30.50) sizes of their Lemon Balm Extract here. They also have monthly specials so it's possible it will pop up on sale!
There's also another company I have come to love called Trilight Health. What's fantastic about them is that they offer three different ways that you can get free product from them via "Rewards Points". I think Walgreens has something like this? Each reward point = $1. How to earn: 1) Spend $25 get 1 point (spend $50 get 2 points etc.) 2) Write a product review, get 1 point 3) Get 25 points for every first time customer that spends $50+. Nice! Their lemon balm comes in 2oz and is $14.95.
Do you grow lemon balm? Have you used it to help with anxiety?
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