Lemon balm supplementation calms stressed angina patients

July 24, 2018

The August 2018 issue of Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, the official publication of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, reported the outcome of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that revealed a reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, and disturbed sleep among men and women with chronic stable angina who supplemented with the herb lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Stable angina describes the activity-associated chest discomfort that occurs in cardiovascular disease.

"Despite advances in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases in recent decades, patients experience high levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia," write authors Habib Haybar and colleagues of Iran's Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences. "Since the calming effect of Melissa officinalis has been known, this study aimed to determine the effects of Melissa officinalis supplementation on depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances in patients with chronic stable angina (CSA)."

The trial included 80 participants aged 40 to 75 years with chronic stable angina. Half of the subjects received 3 capsules per day of dried lemon balm, and the remainder received a placebo for 8 weeks. Responses to questionnaires administered before and after the trial provided data concerning anxiety, depression, stress, and sleep quality.

Participants who received lemon balm had significantly greater reductions in average anxiety, depression, and stress scores at the end of the trial compared to those who received a placebo. Sleep disorders also significantly improved with lemon balm, including sleep quality, duration, and efficiency.

Among potential mechanisms of action for lemon balm, the authors note the herb's potential to decrease corticosterone levels and inhibit GABA transaminase (thereby increasing the amount of GABA in the brain).

"To our best of knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the effects of Melissa officinalis on these parameters in chronic stable angina patients," Dr Haybar and associates announce. "The results showed that 8-week supplementation with 3 grams Melissa officinalis can decrease depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with chronic stable angina."


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