How COVID-19 Led Me To Use Lemon Balm To Treat My PTSD

I have a unique story of how the COVID-19 pandemic led me to find treatment for my PTSD. I have always dealt with off-the-charts anxiety that stems back to my early childhood. When I say early, I mean EARLY. I was abandoned by my mother, lost to the welfare system, and then found when I was approximately a year and a half old. My Great Aunt and Great Grandmother took me in and they did everything they could to undo the damage that those early months caused. I was on the road to a successful life, albeit, even as a youngster I had issues — fits of rage, temper tantrums, just the normal stuff a child might experience when their early bonding skills were obliterated.

At seven-years-old, the normalcy that I had come to experience was all together and entirely destroyed. My mother married twice in my first seven years and with her latter husband decided I should come live with her. I lived with her for five years and it was hell on earth. So, at the ripe old age of 12-years-old, I was removed from the home and ultimately ended up on the streets — a ward of the state who would then go through another series of emotional crises that would pave the way to set me up for a life filled with anxiety and PTSD.

Now that I’m 52-years-old and look back at my life, it’s amazing to me that I have made it as far as I have. It’s also amazing to me that I’m not a complete and utter basket case. To put it bluntly, I’ve been through some sh*t…I’ve seen some sh*t…and I’ve lived through some sh*t and miraculously survived to tell the tale. Thank you, Jesus!

I’ve always been leery of chemical drugs and have had negative reactions to many drugs that most people would consider harmless. I’m not sure if having hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome makes me more sensitive to drugs (and herbs) but that is the only logical conclusion I can come up with.

When COVID-19 hit, I turned to my trusted herbs and began ordering echinacea for myself, my children, and even my grandchildren. I stocked up on echinacea, zinc, Vitamin D as I believe handwashing, social distancing, and basic germ-fighting is important but not enough if your immune system is weak. 

I had ordered six bottles of echinacea tincture from Publix and had it delivered via Instacart to my home. Much to my dismay, when the order arrived, there were six bottles of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) tincture instead of echinacea. I had never used lemon balm and didn’t know much about it. I was very upset over not having the echinacea and immediately called Publix’s customer service.

The woman on the other end was very helpful and we spent some time talking about the pandemic. This was right when the pandemic hit and there was a toilet paper shortage. We were sharing our concerns over the phone and speaking about how scary it was when she said she would refund my money and have another delivery person deliver six bottles of echinacea to my home. 

I was psyched…needless to say, I love PUBLIX and Instacart.

I asked her what I should do with the six bottles of lemon balm and she kindly said for me to keep them, that they may come in handy. At this time, I had no interest in taking lemon balm. 

After several weeks went by, I did a little research on lemon balm and thought I would try it. Immediately, I felt the way you are supposed to feel if you get high. I say that because back in my teen years, when I was on the streets, like many teens my age, I experimented with some drugs. I did not experience the same results as my friend. If I was at a party and one joint was being shared by five people, I would have a completely off-the-charts negative reaction and “ruin everyone else’s high.” 

Oh but lemon balm…

As soon as PTSD, anxiety, or stress gets a hold of me, I take a shot (yes…a shot as I just drop a dropperful into my mouth straight up) and all is well with the world. 

I have heart issues on top of hypermobile Ehlers Danlos and there are times that my heart is racing and I can’t tell if I’m having a panic attack or complications from congestive heart failure. But you know what? It really doesn’t matter. I take a shot of lemon balm…and boom…my heart goes right back to normal.

I’ve asked my health care professionals what they think about my taking lemon balm with my heart medication and they have no idea…but they agree that if it works, keep taking it.

I have been taking lemon balm daily since the mishap with my echinacea and am more peaceful, calm, experience less stress, and I can’t be sure, but I think it’s helping my heart. My heart ejection fraction rate has stayed at 46 percent and all I know is when things start to feel like they’re all going wrong, I take some lemon balm and it goes right again.

I’m caffeine-free (the hardest addiction I’ve ever given up) and that is my only downfall. Living with chronic pain, hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and sleep issues often mean that lemon balm works too well. I deal with CRUSHING FATIGUE and my shots of lemon balm not only knock out my PTSD, stress, and anxiety, but they KNOCK ME OUT! Sometimes, I will just doze off after taking it (maybe within an hour or two) but I work from home and don’t sleep long during the day anyway. Usually, when I do doze off like that, I wake up feeling incredibly refreshed. 

If I take lemon balm at night, before bed, I can get a really good night’s sleep and that can be difficult when you’re dealing with chronic pain.

Overall, I would have to say that the mistake that Publix shopper made has provided more benefits to my life and put me on track to finding a natural remedy for PTSD.

Here is the lemon balm that I take. This is my Amazon affiliate link so if you want to give it a try, I would get a small commission. If you struggle with PTSD, anxiety, or want to find a natural way to relax, I highly recommend lemon balm. If you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medication, I do suggest that you speak to your health care provider and make sure they give you the go-ahead.

P.S. I only buy lemon balm from Amazon now. After the initial mix up with echinacea, I prefer to purchase it this way.

P.S.S. I have done some research on lemon balm especially for the heart and found this rather interesting.

Evaluation of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) Effects on Heart Electrical System


Charisse Van Horn is an artist, poet, and freelance writer.