Chemical composition and in vitro antimicrobial activity of essential oil of Melissa officinalis L. from Romania

Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2008 Jul-Sep;112(3):843-7.


Melissa officinalis L. (lemon balm) is used in traditional medicine to treat insomnia, anxiety, gastric conditions, psychiatric conditions, migraines, hypertension and bronchial conditions. Natural essential oils (mixtures of fragrant chemical) obtained from various parts of plants are efficient active antimicrobial agents. The widespread use of antimicrobial agents selects resistant bacterial strains, which seriously compromise the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment. The use of herbal medicines might be a precautionary measure to prevent the development of lack of susceptibility to synthetic antibiotics that is associated with therapeutic failures.

Material and methods: In this work, the chemical composition and the antimicrobial properties of essential oil from romanian Melissa officinalis were determined. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate in vitro antimicrobial activity of lemon balm oil by comparison with lavender essential oil, which is also utilised for its antimicrobial properties in folk medicine.

Results: The most important identified compounds, well known for their antimicrobial effects were citral (neral and geranial) (16.10%), citronellal (3.76%) and trans-caryophyllene (3.57%).The lemon balm oil sample exhibited a higher degree antibacterial activity than did Lavandula oil against Gram-positive strains. The both oil samples tested has shown a high activity against Candida albicans. The gram-negative bacteria were not affected by the lemon balm oil.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lavandula
  • Melissa / chemistry*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Romania


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil