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In the modern world stress and conditions affecting the nervous system are increasing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2007, almost half (45% or 7.3 million) of 16 million Australians (aged 16-85 years) met the criteria for a diagnosis of a stress or mild anxiety related condition at some point in their life1.
With such a growing number of people suffering from stress or mild anxiety related conditions you may wonder what would be suitable complementary medicine options which may assist with the symptoms of stress and mild anxiety.
One of my favourite herbs to recommend for mild anxiety and stress is, Lemon Balm. Not only has it been used for centuries in Western herbal medicine but it has countless scientific evidence supporting its benefits for mild anxiety and stress.
Melissa officinalis commonly known as Lemon Balm, a plant from the mint family, has been used for centuries and has been proposed by some, as the “cure all “remedy. Traditionally, lemon balm has been used as a sedative, antibacterial and spasmolytic and to assist in reducing fevers and enhancing memory.
The health benefits of Lemon Balm are numerous and diverse, driven by many different chemical compounds found within this plant and its extracts.
Research has shown that Lemon Balm has positive mood lifting benefits due to a specific extract known as rosmarinic acid. Rosmarinic acid can stop the breakdown of GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) metabolism. By increasing the stimulation of GABA receptors, a calming and sedative affect will take place which then allows you to feel relaxed and happy.
So, what is GABA?
GABA is a naturally occurring brain chemical or neurotransmitter that directs signals from your nerve cell to a specific target cell. The key role of GABA is to have a calming effect on you and your nervous system. GABA influences your mood because it reduces high levels of the hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and dopamine, and it affects the neurotransmitter serotonin. Having enough GABA in your brain is linked to being relaxed and happy.
There are some common signs and symptoms of low GABA such as the following:
Mild Anxiety- Mild anxiety is the most commonly recognized symptom of low GABA.
Poor mood- People who are in prolonged states of poor mood have lower brain GABA levels compared to people with normal moods.
Restlessness -Brain GABA deficiency can be seen in those who have trouble either falling asleep or waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.
Dependence- You rely on high carbohydrate foods, drugs, or alcohol to relax.
Stress is a feeling we all may experience at some time in our lives. Often Stress arises when you face a situation you think you are unable to manage. This can then cause you to feel anxious, irritable, forgetful, sleepless and unable to cope. This is where Lemon Balm would be of great benefit.
The most common use of Lemon Balm as a supplement is for anti-anxiety purposes. It is used to promote relaxation and deep, restful sleep. Lemon balm is also able to assist in reducing the associated symptoms of mild anxiety and stress such as irritability, nervousness, poor mood and digestive complaints associated with nervous tension.
So, if you are feeling stressed or a little overwhelmed, try Lemon balm .