The Herpes simplex viruses afflict between 50% and 80% of the adult population in the United States. Whether oral, herpes, genital herpes, or shingles (Herpes zoster), traditional medical treatments can be expensive, time-consuming, and of limited efficacy. For the afflicted with a preference for natural remedies, essential oils are a thoroughly-researched alternative.
Melissa essential oil has been researched more than any other for its anti-viral action versus the herpes simplex I & II viruses. In every study we’ve reviewed, the essential oil has been shown to halt the spread of the virus, either through direct inactivation or prevention of the virus from passing between cells.
In a study published in Phytomedicine(1), the journal of the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, at non-cytotoxic concentrations (levels that do not harm living cells), Melissa essential oil has reduced viral infectivity by between 97% & 98%.
Melissa and Drug Resistant Herpes Virus Strains: Melissa essential oil has also been found effective in preventing the Herpes Simplex virus cell attachment & infectivity even in Acylovir-resistant virus strains.(2)
Melissa essential oil is noted in research(3) to work at very low concentrations, perhaps 100 times lower than other compounds of similar molecular makeup. Further, the whole essential oil appears significantly more effective than any single molecule scientists identified as the primary ‘active constituent’.
Anecdotal reports from users of our Melissa are consistently positive for relief of HSV symptoms, particularly when used at the very onset of outbreaks. Some individuals report a near-eradication of the virus, preventing outbreaks from occurring except under the most extremely stressful situations on the immune system — meaning that they have fewer and less severe outbreaks since using the essential oil regularly. Here’s a great personal report from use of Ananda’s Melissa…
To address herpes simplex II outbreak symptoms, some individuals take one drop of the oil internally several times a day when they’re fatigued and/or feel an outbreak coming on. Others use very small amounts ’neat’ on the affected area (this depends significantly on the location of the outbreak – oral/genital – you get the idea), and some dilute it in Tamanu oil to ratio that is best tolerated by their skin (Tamanu appears to have anti-viral activity itself, as well as a profound ability to speed skin healing) ~ any carrier oil will allow the powerful Melissa to do its work! Melissa essential oil is said to be able to be diluted to 1/100th (one drop Melissa essential oil in 99 drops carrier oil) and retain its efficacy.
Please note: while ingestion of Melissa essential oil is noted as non-toxic in the important guide ‘Essential Oil Safety’ (Tisserand & Young, 1995), in French aromatherapy practice (which uses oral administration as much as diffusion and topical application, and perhaps even more so when addressing a particular ailment), essential oils are only taken internally during the course of treatment – not forever! Please be responsible, be safe, and find a qualified practitioner to work with should you feel you need one.
True Melissa essential oil is naturally costly, as the yield from the plant is low (the plant by weight is less than 0.5% essential oil) ~ there are are many ‘rectified’ and blends made of other oils out there for less.
1. Study: Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses. Phytomedicine. 2008 Sep;15(9):734-40. Authors: Schnitzler, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, Reichling J.
Abstract: Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel drugs of antimicrobial and antiviral agents, since herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral agents. Melissa officinalis essential oil was phytochemically examined by GC-MS analysis, its main constituents were identified as monoterpenaldehydes citral a, citral b and citronellal.
The antiviral effect of lemon balm oil, the essential oil of Melissa officinalis, on herpes simplex virus was examined. The inhibitory activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) was tested in vitro on monkey kidney cells using a plaque reduction assay. The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of balm oil for herpes simplex virus plaque formation was determined at high dilutions of 0.0004% and 0.00008% for HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively.
At noncytotoxic concentrations of the oil, 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 nearly completely. In order to determine the mode of antiviral action of this essential oil, time-on-addition assays were performed. Both herpesviruses were significantly inhibited by pretreatment with balm oil prior to infection of cells. These results indicate that Melissa oil affected the virus before adsorption, but not after penetration into the host cell, thus lemon balm oil is capable of exerting a direct antiviral effect on herpesviruses.
Considering the lipophilic nature of lemon balm essential oil, which enables it to penetrate the skin, and a high selectivity index, Melissa officinalis oil might be suitable for topical treatment of herpetic infections.
2. Study: Attachment and penetration of acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus are inhibited by Melissa officinalis extract. Phytotherapy Research. 2014 Oct;28(10):1547-52. Authors: Astani A1, Navid MH, Schnitzler P.
Abstract: Medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel source of drugs for antiherpetic agents, because herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral drugs. An aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis and the phenolic compounds caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and rosmarinic acid were examined for their antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) acyclovir-sensitive and clinical isolates of acyclovir-resistant strains in vitro. When drugs were added during the intracellular replication of HSV-1 infected cells, no antiviral effect was observed by plaque reduction assay.
However, Melissa extract interacted directly with free viral particles of two acyclovir-resistant HSV strains at low IC50 values of 0.13 and 0.23 µg/mL and high selectivity indices of 2692 and 1522, respectively. The Melissa extract and rosmarinic acid inhibited HSV-1 attachment to host cells in a dose-dependent manner for acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant strains. These results indicate that mainly rosmarinic acid contributed to the antiviral activity of Melissa extract. Penetration of herpes viruses into cells was inhibited by Melissa extract at 80% and 96% for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant viruses, respectively. Melissa extract exhibits low toxicity and affects attachment and penetration of acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant HSVs in vitro.
3. Study: Melissa officinalis extract inhibits attachment of herpes simplex virus in vitro. Chemotherapy. 2012;58(1):70-7. Authors: Astani A1, Reichling J, Schnitzler P.
Abstract: Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel drugs for antiherpetic agents, since the herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral drugs.
METHODS: An aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis as well as phenolic extract compounds, i.e. caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and rosmarinic acid were examined for their antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in vitro.
RESULTS: When drugs were added to HSV-1-infected cells, no antiviral effect was observed as determined by plaque reduction assay and analysis of expression of viral protein ICP0. However, the Melissa extract demonstrated a high virucidal activity against HSV-1, even at very low concentrations of 1.5 μg/ml, whereas similar results for phenolic compounds were only achieved at 100 times higher concentrations. Besides the virucidal activity, the Melissa extract and rosmarinic acid inhibited HSV-1 attachment to host cells in a dose-dependent manner. These results indicate that rosmarinic acid was the main contributor to the antiviral activity of Melissa extract. However, the selectivity index of Melissa extract of 875 against HSV is superior to the selectivity indices of single constituents.
CONCLUSION: Melissa extract exhibits low toxicity, is virucidal and affects HSV-1 attachment to host cells in vitro.