Melissa Officinalis

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the causative agent of cold sores,  is a highly infectious virus transmitted mainly by oral-oral contact. HSV-1 is highly prevalent and endemic throughout the world. Although standard therapies with acyclovir and other synthetic drugs are available for HSV-1, the safety and efficacy of these drugs are limited due to the development of drug resistance and adverse side effects.1,2

To overcome the problem of antiviral resistance, there is an increased interest in medicinal plants as novel antiviral agents. Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are bestowed with antimicrobial properties, which have led to its increased use in viral infections such as cold sores. Melissa officinalis is one such medicinal plant which possesses remarkable antiviral properties.3,4

Melissa officinalis in cold sores

The medicinal properties of Melissa officinalis are well established throughout the world. Melissa officinalis grows in the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia. It is also widely cultivated in most regions of Europe.5

Melissa officinalis has numerous uses in humans. The plant has been traditionally used in gastrointestinal problems, nervous agitation, and sleeping problems. Lemon balm oil, the essential oil of Melissa officinalis, is useful for treating active herpes simplex lesions and preventing recurrences. Melissa officinalis also possess analgesic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Melissa officinalis is reported to have antibacterial and antifungal activity too.3,5

Melissa officinalis – Antiviral activity

Findings from studies demonstrate that ointments containing melissa officinalis (lemon balm extract) help heal cold sores. Extract from the leaves of melissa officinalis was found to possess a high virucidal (virus deactivation) activity against HSV-1, even at very low concentrations of 1.5 µg/ml. Melissa extract also inhibits the virus attachment to host cells, which, in turn, prevents viral infection.6

The inhibitory activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2 was tested in vitro on monkey kidney cells using a plaque reduction assay. The plaque assay is a widely used method to determine the quantity of infectious virus. The study found that plaque formation was significantly reduced by 98.8% for HSV-1 and 97.2% for HSV-2, higher concentrations of lemon balm oil abolished viral infectivity almost completely.To assess the efficacy of balm mint cream (extract from Melissa officinalis leaves) in herpes simplex labialis, Koytchev et al. conducted a randomized trial on 66 patients with a history of recurrent herpes labialis (at least four episodes per year).

The patients randomly received a standardized lemon balm cream or placebo cream, both of which were applied to the affected area four times daily for five days. The study found that on the second day of therapy, the symptoms were significantly lower in the lemon balm cream group than in the placebo group. The symptom score on the second day is vital as the sufferings from herpes labialis are usually most intensive at that time. The total symptom score over the five days was also in favor of the lemon balm cream group.7

In another study by Wölbling et al., 116 patients with acute herpes simplex infection applied lemon balm cream or a placebo cream. Treatment was initiated within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, and the cream was applied 2-4 times daily for 5-10 days. 41 % of the patients in the lemon balm group rated the healing as “very good,” while 19 % of patients in the placebo group rated the healing as “very good.” The study also found the early initiation of the treatment to be most effective.8

In addition to healing, studies show that the use of lemon balm in herpes infection of the skin cream significantly reduces the size of lesions by the second day of treatment. A large study involving three German hospitals and one dermatology clinic showed that when lemon balm was used to treat the primary infection of HSV I, not a single recurrence was noted. The cream has also been found to reduce the healing time of cold sores.9

Melissa officinalis – Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory effects

Studies show that Melissa officinalis possesses high amount of antioxidant activity through its chemical compounds including high amount of flavonoids, rosmaric acid, gallic acid, phenolic contents. Due to its antioxidant or radical scavenging effects, studies were done to explore its anti-inflammatory activities.10

Melissa officinalis possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity, which supports the use of this plant in treating conditions associated with inflammation and pain. Experts suggest that the anti-inflammatory activity of melissa officinalis essential oil is due to the presence of citral. The analgesic properties of melissa officinalis are exerted through the cholinergic system and nitric oxide pathway.11

Animal studies have revealed the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Melissa officinalis. A study by Guginski et al. used the “paw swelling” method to assess the inflammatory properties of Melissa officinalis. The study found that pretreatment with Melissa officinalis significantly reduced inflammagen- induced paw swelling or edema in rats and diminished the nociceptive response in mice. The study also demonstrated the antioxidant effects of Melissa officinalis.12

  1. Schnitzler P. Essential Oils for the Treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus Infections. Chemotherapy. 2019;64(1):1-7.
  2. Looker KJ, Magaret AS, May MT, et al. Global and Regional Estimates of Prevalent and Incident Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infections in 2012. PLoS One. 2015;10(10):e0140765.
  3. Schnitzler P, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, et al. Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses. Phytomedicine. 2008;15(9):734-740.
  4. Álvarez DM, Castillo E, Duarte LF, et al. Current Antivirals and Novel Botanical Molecules Interfering With Herpes Simplex Virus Infection. Front Microbiol. 2020;11:139.
  5. Mazzanti G, Battinelli L, Pompeo C, et al. Inhibitory activity of Melissa officinalis L. extract on Herpes simplex virus type 2 replication. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(16):1433-1440.
  6. Astani A, Reichling J, Schnitzler P. Melissa officinalis extract inhibits attachment of herpes simplex virus in vitro. Chemotherapy. 2012;58(1):70-77.
  7. Koytchev R, Alken RG, Dundarov S. Balm mint extract (Lo-701) for topical treatment of recurring herpes labialis. Phytomedicine. 1999;6(4):225-230.
  8. Wölbling RH, Leonhardt K. Local therapy of herpes simplex with dried extract from Melissa officinalis. Phytomedicine. 1994;1(1):25-31.
  9. Lemon balm. Available at: Accessed on: 01November 2020.
  10. Miraj S, Rafieian-Kopaei, Kiani S. Melissa officinalis L: A Review Study With an Antioxidant Prospective. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(3):385-394.
  11. Bounihi A, Hajjaj G, Alnamer R, et al. In Vivo Potential Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Melissa officinalis L. Essential Oil. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2013;2013:101759.
  12. Guginski G, Luiz AP, Silva MD, et al. Mechanisms involved in the antinociception caused by ethanolic extract obtained from the leaves of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) in mice. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009;93(1):10-16.

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herlip™ Cold Sore Rapid Relief Gel – 8x Multi-Action Formula for Cold Sores

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herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel is an 8x multi-action formula used for rapidly treating the symptoms and signs associated with cold sores. The result of 6 years of research and development, this unique eco-friendly antiviral product with 30+ naturally-sourced ingredients, soothes, treats, and rapidly improves cold sores.

Packed with fast-acting ingredients and zero harsh chemicals, herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel is the safe, effective choice for cold sore management. herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel contains a unique combination of nine (9) active ingredients:

  • Leptospermum Australian Manuka honey 50mg/g,
  • Zinc Oxide 38mg/g,
  • Lysine 14.9mg/g,
  • Propolis Liquid Extract 12mg/g,
  • Melissa Officinalis 10.5mg/g,
  • Glycine 10mg/g,
  • Menthol 1.2mg/g,
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) 1mg/g
  • Ubiquinol-10 (CoQ10) 500 Microgram/g

Our 8x multi-action formula is unlike any other on the market.  It simultaneously provides; antiviral action against HSV-1, assistance with wound healing, relief by soothing and cooling the area, acting as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, giving an anti-itch effect, and, finally, moisturizing the affected area.

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