Lemon Balm (Melissa)
Scientific name: Melissa officinalis
Common names: Garden Balm, Sweet Balm, Honey Plant, Cure-All, Balm Mint, Bee Balm
Chinese names: Xiang feng cao, Xiang feng hua, Xiang feng ye
Rain Forest names:
Family: Labitae (Mint)
Approximate number of species known:
Common parts used: Leaf, whole herb, flowers
Height: Up to 2 feet tall
Actions: Carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, calmative, diaphoretic, hypotensive, anti-emetic, aromatic, hepatic, nervine, sedative, tonic, febrifgue
Known Consitutents: Oils including citral, citronwllal, geranoil, linalol, bitter, flavones, resin
citronellal (24%), geranial (16%) linalyl acetate (12%), caryophyllene (12%)
essential oil (citral, linalool, eugenol, citronellal, geraniol), tannins, bitter principle, resin, tannins, polyphenols, flavonoids, succinic acid, and rosmarinic acid
Native to South Eruope and the Mediterranian. The leaves are light to medium green are opposite (picture), oval, round-toothed. The lemons have a strong lemon scent.
The flowers bloom in late summer and are white, yellow or pale blue. As new flowers flower they appear higher up the stem. Tends to grow in shady, moist places.
The leaves can be green or yellow and have deep grooves. The leaves smell like lemons, and are shaped similar to mint leaves. The heart shaped leaves are covered with hair.
Generally the leaves are best collected before the flowers appear.
It tends to attract bees.
It grows best in light, or partial shade and in temperatures above 20C or 70F.
Generally at the start of winter the stems die and then regrow in spring.
Shakespeare draws reference to it in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
It’s lemon flavouered leaves are sometimes used in salads. A powerful digestive carminative that is used to relieve spasms and gas in the digestive tract. A relaxing herb that is used to gently ease depression, axiety and insomnia. If the thyroid is overactive due to a nervous condition, lemon balm will often be used to relax the nervous system again so the body can begin to find it homeostatic level.
Its antispasmodic effects sees is use in painful menstruation.1 It’s commonly added to cooking and used in oils, vinegars, perfumes and alcohol products. It’s been used to balance emotional states, relieve sleepnessless, headaches, colds.
Used to have a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system. Also used for fevers, when accompanied with flu like symptoms.
Has been used to promote perspiration.1
Has been used to aid digestion, and ease nausea.1 And has been used for the bladder, kindeys, spleen and griping in the bowels.1
Has been used both internally and externally for bites ans stings. The leaves when rubbed on the skin are used to repel mosquitos.
Eugenol is believed to be responsible for it being able to kill bacteria, and having a muscle relaxant effect. Tannins contribute to it being anti-viral, and terpenes add to it’s soothing effect.
Commonly it is used for fatigue, depression, anxiety and headaches.
The Greek physician Dioscorides used it on stings and bites from dogs, insects and scorpions.
Sometimes used as a cardiac tonic.
It is sometimes used to make other things more edible.
Efficacy and tolerability of a combined valerian/lemon balm preparation were investigated in an open, multicentre study in children less than 12 years suffering from restlessness and nervous dyskoimesis.
Patients were dosed individually by the investigators. In total, 918 children were evaluated for therapeutic efficacy and tolerability. A distinct and convincing reduction in severity was found for all symptoms in the investigators’ and parents’ ratings.
The core symptoms dyssomnia and restlessness were reduced from “moderate/severe” to “mild” or “absent” in most of the patients. In total, 80.9% of the patients who suffered from dyssomnia experienced an improvement for this symptom and 70.4% of the patients with restlessness improved clearly.
For the other listed symptoms the total improvement was 37.8% on average. Both, parents and investigators assessed efficacy as to be “very good” or “good” (60.5% and 67.7%, respectively). The tolerability of Euvegal forte was considered as “good.”
No study medication-related adverse events occurred. In conclusion, Euvegal forte was effective in the treatment of younger children with restlessness and dyssomnia and it was very well tolerated.
Muller SF, Klement S. “A Combination Of Valerian And Lemon Balm Is Effective In The Treatment Of Restlessness And Dyssomnia In Children.” 2006 June http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16487692
Herb Name: Lemon Balm
Latin name: Melissa officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Common part used:
Mainly the lemon balm leaves, which are harvested just before blooming.
Lemon Balm is a native to southern Europe and northern Africa and has been cultivated for over 2000 years. It grows to 70-150 cm tall. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. At the end of the summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. These attract bees, hence the genus name Melissa (Greek for ‘honey bee’). Its flavor comes from the terpenes citronellal, citronellol, citral, andgeraniol.
Lemon Balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetative as well as by seed. In mild temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring. It can be easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water, or from seeds. Under ideal conditions, it will seed itself prolifically and can become a nuisance in gardens.
Lemon balm is often used as a flavoring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies.
Medicinal uses: The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquito.
Lemon Balm is also used medicinally as a herbal tea, or in extract form. It is claimed to have antibacterial, antiviral properties (it is effective against herpes simplex), and it is also used as a mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective at reducing stress, although the study’s authors call for further research. Its antibacterial properties have also been demonstrated scientifically, although they are markedly weaker than those from a number of other plants studied. The extract of Lemon balm was also found to have exceptionally high antioxidant activity.
Lemon balm essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy. The essential oil is commonly co-distilled with lemon oil, citronella oil, or other oils.
Lemon balm is used in some variations of the Colgate Herbal toothpaste for its soothing and aromatic properties.
Lemon balm should be avoided by those on thyroid medication (such as thyroxine) as it is believed that the herb inhibits the absorption of this medicine.