Beneficial Effects of Lemon Balm Leaf Extract on In Vitro Glycation of Proteins, Arterial Stiffness, and Skin Elasticity in Healthy Adults

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2017;63(1):59-68. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.63.59.


Glycation, a non-enzymatic glycosylation of proteins, induces tissue damage in association with various diseases and aging phenomena. Pentosidine, an advanced glycation end product, is involved in aging phenomena such as tissue stiffness. In this study, we aimed to find a potent anti-glycation food material and to verify its health benefits by clinical trial. From among 681 hot water plant extracts, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis; LB) leaf extract was selected and revealed to have more potent inhibitory activity for pentosidine formation than a representative anti-glycation agent, aminoguanidine. Rosmarinic acid (RA), a typical polyphenol in Lamiaceae plants, was identified as a major active component in LB extract (LBE). Furthermore, LBE or RA dose-dependently suppressed glycation-associated reactions such as increased fluorescence, yellowing of collagen fiber sheets, and degeneration of the fibrous structure of elastin fiber sheets. An open-label, parallel-group comparative trial was conducted in 28 healthy Japanese subjects aged 31-65 y who consumed LB tea (LB group) or barley tea (Control group) for 6 wk. The LB group showed significant reductions in brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, reflecting arterial stiffness, and b* (yellow) color values in forearm skin compared with the Control group. A gender-stratified analysis revealed that cheek skin elasticity was significantly improved in the LB group compared with the Control group only in female subjects. It is concluded that the hot water extract of LB leaf has the potential to provide health benefits with regard to glycation-associated tissue damage in blood vessels and skin of healthy adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Beverages
  • Cinnamates / pharmacology
  • Depsides / pharmacology
  • Diet
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Glycosylation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Melissa / chemistry*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Vascular Stiffness / drug effects*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cinnamates
  • Depsides
  • LFR protein, Arabidopsis
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • rosmarinic acid