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Natural Cures and Dr. Oz...The Lemon Balm Fiasco

Updated on October 4, 2015
Using herbal remedies is great, but you have to know how and when to use them.
Using herbal remedies is great, but you have to know how and when to use them. | Source

Natural Remedies Deserve Respect

You hear and read a lot about natural and herbal cures these days. Dr. Oz raves about them on his show, including lemon balm for cold sores, passionflower, valerian and lemon balm for anxiety, and sage as an expectorant to help calm your cough.

You read about herbal and natural treatments in women's magazines, and they are all over the internet. One might think that natural cures are a new thing, but only a new trend. Herbal remedies date back to the the Middle Ages, and the Chinese were using it as far back as 500 B.C.

Herbs are a wonderful way to heal many illnesses naturally. Herbs have been used for thousands of years, but one must know the ins and outs of the herbs being recommended to them. If not, you could be doing more harm than good to your body.

Don't let them fool you. There are lots more to herbs than they let on.
Don't let them fool you. There are lots more to herbs than they let on. | Source

What They Are Not Telling You

The missing critical information that Dr Oz, all the magazine articles you read, and everyone else seems to not write or talk about is that just because herbs are natural, they are still medicine, and thus should be treated with care and respect.

You have to know how, and when to use the herbs. You have to know whether or not there is a contraindication with a prescribed medication you may be taking. You should know which method should be used. Should it be a tea, a tincture, or a decoction? One important thing, is the correct dosage. You can not just take herbs at any time just because they are natural. You can't take more because Dr. Oz says to, as this would be overdosing. You would not overdose on a prescribed med, and it's important not to overdose on a herb, either. Both can have very serious consequences to your health.

If you are going to take an herbal remedy, it is best to do research on the herb and find out if it's right for you. What is right for your friends needs, may be harmful to you.

How To Make A Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm is a wonderful herb if you are suffering from stress or anxiety. Taken as a tea, it can help you relax after a long day.

To make a tea (infusion), take 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of herb and place in a coffee press, or tea strainer. Pour hot water over the herb. Allow to infuse for 15-20 minutes. Add honey, or your favorite sweetener. Lemon balm tea can be taken up to four times a day. You should take while at home, and do not drive until you know how it will affect you. It acts differently in everyone.

If you do not have a tea strainer, or a coffee press, simple add the herb to a cup of water. Let it steep, and then using a cheesecloth, strain herb into a coffee cup. Sweeten as desired.

Lemon Balm for Stress and Anxiety

So, now we will move onto lemon balm.

Dr Oz has spoken about lemon balm on a couple different occasions for anxiety, but has never stated how to really use it correctly. In March of 2011, he actually told his audience to take “lemon balm oil ” for anxiety, when in fact he should have stated lemon balm tincture. He gave a woman on the set “lemon balm oil” and in reality, he gave her too much. He overdosed her on national television. He led the audience to believe it was okay to just keep adding more to your glass. This is in fact not true. If you were to take lemon balm oil for anxiety, it would make you sickly.

A tincture is an herbal medicine, and should be used as medicine. It should be treated with the same respect that you would with a pill. You can overdose on herbs. Many people think because it is natural, they can just take more, and more. More, does not equal better results, and in fact can make you sicker. The proper dosage for lemon balm tincture is 6-10 drops per glass, three to four times a day.

Valerian For Anxiety

Let's take Valerian for anxiety as our first example.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a good choice as an herbal remedy for anxiety. It is considered an herbal nervine. A nervine works to calm the nervous system. Other nervines would include passionflower, lemon balm and to a lesser degree chamomile. Valerian is in fact nature's Valium.

With that said, Valerian is an herb to be used with care. A person who is taking Valium or any other sleep inducing, or anxiety medication should not combine herb and drug. It could actually cause an overdose. Combining nervines should only be done by an herbal practitioner. Dr. Oz never states any cautions on valerian, lemon balm or other herbs he speaks about. This is important, as so many seem to look up to him.

Lemon balm leaf can be made into a relaxing tea for stress and anxiety
Lemon balm leaf can be made into a relaxing tea for stress and anxiety | Source

Lemon Balm for Cold Sores

Dr. Oz has stated that using lemon balm ointment is great for cold sores. While he is correct about this, and lemon balm herbal tea or tincture is used for anxiety, he never discussed that people taking drugs for thyroid conditions should stay clear of lemon balm completely. No tea, tincture, oil, or ointment. Lemon balm can inhibit the absorption of the thyroid medications Synthroid, and Levothyroxine. This means that you will not get enough of your thyroid medication.

Contact A Herbalist and Do Your Homework

It is very important that when Dr. Oz or someone else mentions an herb that you do your research to see if the herb is for you. While herbs are natural, they are medicine, and should be treated as such. Herbs have interactions with certain medications. Herbs can have interactions with other herbs, and can even have interactions with certain foods.

Natural does not mean that you can take as much as you want when you want. Herbs, like their pharmaceutical counterparts have dosing instructions. Take more does not equal better or faster results. The opposite can happen. If you take more, you can make yourself sick.

Contacting an herbalist, or a naturopath would be the best course of action if you have questions about taking a herbal remedy. A herbalist is trained to teach you and recommend certain herbs. While they can not prescribe, they can recommend to you which herbs would work for your condition.


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    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 

      4 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Very useful information on not just lemon balm but on any herbal, homeopathic or other remedy. Like you mentioned, all are medicines. Thanks for helpful info and instruction coupled with commonsense safety Kathy!

    • Gloshei profile image


      7 years ago from France

      good hub and very true you must still be careful with herbal remedies. I use them when I need to at least they are pure and you know what you are taking.

      Thanks for sharing

    • cloverleaffarm profile imageAUTHOR

      Healing Herbalist 

      7 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Not a big fan myself, for many of the same reasons. Doctors don't belong on Tv.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am not a big fan of Dr. Oz. He sold himself out for fame and fortune. Thanks for sharing all this great information on lemon balm. I have learned so much.

    • patchofearth profile image

      Rebecca Long 

      7 years ago from somewhere in the appalachian foothills

      I am interested in herbal remedies. Many articles and books mention which herbs to use for what, but don't address how to use the herbs. And as you stated here, they don't offer cautions. This is good information to have. Hope you will do a few more hubs like this one.

    • cloverleaffarm profile imageAUTHOR

      Healing Herbalist 

      7 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Being a clinical herbalist, it bothers me when doctors, especially ones on TV that people look up to start spouting off about herbs. The March 2011 episode was kind of scary. Our lemon balm oil sales went up, and it was a couple of weeks before we caught onto what was happening. A client called and asked about it. I was horrified. All those people drinking lemon balm oil, and not just from me. I'm sure they got it from all over the US. I'm sure there were many people who spent many hours in the bathroom after that episode.

    • katedonavon profile image


      7 years ago

      My husband and I were just discussing something similar yesterday. Just because something is natural doesn't always mean it's good. Many natural substances can be harmful. Of course, some of them are helpful in the right amounts, but it's always good to do one's research before embarking on a "natural" spree.


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