Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common inflammation that affects 11.2% of the world population. It can cause abdominal pain, swollen belly and problems with intestinal transit. The causes are not yet fully known but there are factors that can contribute to the onset of irritable bowel syndrome such as intestinal infections, stress but also a condition of visceral hypersensitivity with an increase in the perception of pain. What can be done in case of irritable bowel that, even if it is a benign disorder, can still be annoying? Lemon balm appears to be a valuable ally against irritable bowel, based on a 2018 research published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility by an Iranian team (Dolatabadi et al, Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 2018).
The researchers tried to evaluate the effectiveness of lemon balm in case of irritable bowel in rats. Extracts of lemon balm were given to the animals and then inflammatory markers and health conditions were evaluated. What emerged was that lemon balm actually managed to reduce visceral hypersensitivity and inflammation markers. Not only that, lemon balm also increased the antioxidant capacity of the intestinal mucosa to counteract the damage of oxidative stress. The researchers then conclude that lemon balm may prove beneficial for treating irritable bowel in humans as well, however, other studies will follow to confirm this.
Finally, it should be emphasized that lemon balm not only helps in case of irritable bowel, but is also beneficial for other disorders. In fact, as indicated in a review a few years ago (Ulbricht et al, Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy, 2005), lemon balm shows useful antiviral properties in case of herpes simplex and, for this purpose, it should be applied topically at the first signs of cold sores. Not only that, lemon balm also helps the nervous system and counteracts anxiety and sleep problems related to stress.