Every gardener needs a clump of Lemon Balm. Not only is this a lovely perennial herb, but the compact, lush green bushiness is a visual addition for a gardener in an herbal garden or a bed of flowers.
Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis, has traditionally been regarded as an herb with the ability to rejuvenate. During the Middle Ages, Lemon Balm was a key ingredient in all medieval elixirs of youth. Even as late as the 18th century, Lemon Balm continued to maintain its reputation as an “elixir of youth.”
Lemon balm is known to contain volatile oils (including citronellal), polyphenols, bitter principle, tannins, rosmarinic acid, and flavonoids.
The actions of the plant have alternately been described as sedative, anti-depressant, a relaxant and restorer, a digestive stimulant, antibacterial and antispasmodic. Lemon Balm is also known for its ability to promote sweating, relax the peripheral blood vessels, and for its antiviral properties.
The leaves of the Lemon Balm plant are wonderfully scented — like a fresh lemon. They are believed to help relieve the symptoms of depression and tension. The leaves are known as carminative, so are thought of as ideal for those individuals who are affected by digestive upsets when they become anxious or worried.
Because of its ability to cool, Lemon Balm is also good for people who may suffer from feverish colds. Lemon Balm cream can be used to treat cold sores and other conditions related to herpes simplex.
The best time to harvest lemon balm is just before flowering. In the summer, the leaves of the lemon balm plant can make a delightfully cooling and refreshing tea.
The essential oil of the lemon balm plant is also popular with herbalists. The concentrated oils from the lemon balm leaves are much more potent than the leaves themselves. Just a few drops of lemon balm essential oil can affect an individual. In fact, a few drops of lemon balm essential oil are recommended as an antidote for depression.
Other popular methods for consuming lemon balm in herbal remedies
include as an infusion for hot tea and as ice cream flavoring. Hot lemon balm tea is used to treat nausea, indigestion, and nervous exhaustion.
A lemon balm compress can be applied to any area of suffering from painful swellings. Lemon balm can also be used to create a soothing massage oil. Simply dilute 5-10 drops of essential oil by combining with either almond oil or olive oil, and then rub to relieve chest complaints or other areas of tension.
Lemon balm should not be taken by anyone on thyroid medication as the herb may inhibit the absorption of the medicine.
Disclaimer: I am not a physician and cannot advise anyone to use or to ingest any portion of any herb for medicinal purposes.