Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is lemon scented herb and is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. Sources date the medicinal use of lemon balm to over 2000 years ago through the Greeks and Romans. In traditional medicine, M. officinalis leaves have been prescribed for the treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, liver, and bile. Various scientific research has shown anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties of lemon balm. It acts mainly by increasing the release of GABA (a chemical messenger in brain) to reduce anxiety.
Scholey A, Gibbs A, Neale C, et al. Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. Nutrients. 2014;6(11):4805-4821. Published 2014 Oct 30. doi:10.3390/nu6114805
Haybar H, Javid AZ, Haghighizadeh MH, Valizadeh E, Mohaghegh SM, Mohammadzadeh A. The effects of Melissa officinalis supplementation on depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with chronic stable angina. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018;26:47-52.doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.04.015
Cases J, Ibarra A, Feuillère N, Roller M, Sukkar SG. Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Med J Nutrition Metab. 2011;4(3):211-218. doi:10.1007/s12349-010-0045-4
Theanine is an analogue of amino acid glutamate and is particularly found in green tea. As a structural analog of glutamate, the theanine is absorbed in the small intestine after oral ingestion. It can also cross the blood–brain barrier intact and has been studied for its potential ability to reduce mental and physical stress by increasing the levels of many chemical messengers in brain (e.g., GABA, serotonin and dopamine) for better control of stress.
Lopes Sakamoto F, Metzker Pereira Ribeiro R, Amador Bueno A, Oliveira Santos H. Psychotropic effects of L-theanine and its clinical properties: From the management of anxiety and stress to a potential use in schizophrenia. Pharmacol Res. 2019;147:104395.doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104395
Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007;74(1):39-45. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.006
Hidese S, Ogawa S, Ota M, et al. Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2362. Published 2019 Oct 3. doi:10.3390/nu11102362
C. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort or Hypericum perforatum is a wild-growing plant with yellow flowers and is one of the most widely used natural supplement in the word. A lot of research has been done on its ability to reduce anxiety associated with stress. One of the mechanisms hypothesised is that it keeps the chemical messengers work more effectively in the brain.
Sarris J, Kavanagh DJ. Kava and St. John's Wort: current evidence for use in mood and anxiety disorders. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(8):827-836. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0066
Kumar A, Garg R, Prakash AK. Effect of St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) treatment on restraint stress-induced behavioral and biochemical alteration in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010;10:18. Published 2010 May 7. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-18
Trofimiuk E, Holownia A, Braszko JJ. St. John's wort may relieve negative effects of stress on spatial working memory by changing synaptic plasticity. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2011;383(4):415-422. doi:10.1007/s00210-011-0604-3