Herbal tea is a go-to option for pregnant women, as many teas don’t contain caffeine and they sometimes have natural health benefits, too. Lemon Balm Tea is a popular choice in pregnancy as a way to relax and hydrate, but is it safe? I decided to find out.
Is Lemon Balm Tea Safe in Pregnancy? Lemon balm tea is generally accepted as being safe for pregnant women to drink. It’s caffeine-free and may have other health benefits. Pregnant women should stick to commercial blends and culinary amounts of lemon balm tea.
Here, I’ll address the potential benefits of lemon balm tea, and take a look at different medical sources as to whether it’s safe or not when you’re pregnant.
When Is Lemon Balm Tea Unsafe for Pregnant Women?
The important thing to remember about herbal tea in pregnancy is that it should only be consumed in “culinary amounts”. That just means regular amounts of the herb, usually made commercially in tea bags, or in measured doses of loose leaf tea.
The American Pregnancy Association list Lemon Balm as “likely safe” for pregnant women when taken in these usual culinary amounts (source: APA).
A 2005 study also stated that there was a lack of evidence as to whether lemon balm was safe during pregnancy, but pointed out that the FDA in the US has it listed on their list of “likely safe” herbs when taken in food amounts only (sources: ResearchGate, FDA). This is also because lemon balm appears quite often in foods, as a flavoring.
The only thing you need to look out for is that you should avoid non-commercial, excessive amounts of the herb – for example, taking an extract or concentrate. This is what’s known as a ‘medicinal amount’, and should be avoided when pregnant (source: WebMD).
Sometimes, bespoke blends of herbal teas like lemon balm may contain a larger amount of the herb, or be mixed with other ingredients such as extracts (covered later in this article). Always check the ingredients when you’re choosing lemon balm tea to drink in pregnancy.
If you live in the UK or Australia, it’s recommended that herbal teas are limited to a total of 4 cups daily or 2 cups daily respectively.
Tip: Lemon Balm tea in its purest form should be only made from the leaves of the lemon balm plant (Melissa officinalis), which is a member of the mint family.
Sometimes, lemon balm tea is a combination of lemon balm and peppermint leaves, which is also fine in pregnancy if you drink it in ordinary culinary amounts.
If buying loose leaf tea, check the recommended amount that should be steeped. Do not exceed the stated dose, or stick to already-prepared teabags.
If you have an underactive thyroid, then avoid lemon balm tea. Lemon Balm may act as a thyroid suppressant, but its exact interaction is still unknown (source: TC Journal).
Does Lemon Balm Tea Contain Caffeine?
Unless it’s combined with other teas such as green tea leaves, lemon balm tea in its pure form is naturally caffeine-free.
As stated above, check the ingredients list of the lemon balm tea you’ve chosen. If it’s got other tea leaves blended with it, it may contain caffeine or have other herbs that aren’t safe in pregnancy.
In pregnancy, it’s best to stick to pure, commercially-made teas that are usually made with the single ingredient listed. My favorite brand is Traditional Medicinals, available on Amazon and in health stores.
What Are The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Balm Tea When Pregnant?
In 2014 a study found that taking lemon balm helped to reduce stress and anxiety, and feel an increased sense of calm.
However, the participants were taking a medical amount of lemon balm (which is not recommended in pregnancy), and the study sample was small (source: Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine).
A more in-depth evidence-based review took place in 2005, and although it was acknowledged that there was anecdotal evidence of lemon balm’s benefits (such as a reduction in anxiety, better sleep, or reducing stress), there was not enough evidence to draw a solid conclusion.
Overall, lemon balm tea may have such benefits, but the evidence to support them is still either contradictory or lacking.
If lemon balm tea works for you, then you can still drink it in small amounts, in moderation, as it’s very important to hydrate often in pregnancy.
If you need some other ideas to stay hydrated and are bored with water, I wrote an article covering ten drinks (besides water) that are safe in pregnancy.
Is Lemon Balm Tincture (Extract) or Oil Safe in Pregnancy?
Lemon balm should only be taken in regular food amounts during pregnancy. This means drinking it in moderation as a tea, from a commercially-made, measured out amount of lemon balm leaves.
The safest and most reliable way to do this is to buy quality lemon balm tea bags, as they’re already measured out. As mentioned earlier, my recommended brand is here, as it contains only organic lemon balm leaves.
Extracts and tinctures are potent, and can contain many times the recommended amounts of lemon balm, and aren’t recommended for pregnant women, as there’s a lack of evidence as to their safety (source: WebMD).
If you want to use lemon balm as a supplement, extract, oil or tincture, then consult your midwife or doctor beforehand. Otherwise, stick to small, culinary amounts of the herb as a tea in moderation during pregnancy.
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