Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a common herb in many culinary gardens. It is a member of the mint family, yet it has no mint flavor, only a refreshing lemon. Balm was once used as a "strewing herb" in castles and homes to freshen the air. Used frequently in salads, as garnishes and in stuffings, balm is a must in the kitchen. Luckily, this herb is easy to grow and it spreads in the garden without a lot of encouragement.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Lemon Balm, while refreshingly stimulating, has the effect of calming the nerves. The balm tea is effective in helping people relax and feel good when depressed or anxious. It is antiviral, and is particularly effective against the herpes virus. It relieves stomach cramps and gas and lowers blood pressure. Balm can help with headaches and fatigue. Even migraines can succumb to balm's touch. The herbal tea can be soothing during colds and flu. It is helpful during fever as it encourages perspiration. It is also helpful for flatulence and insomnia. What's more, this herb is safe for children.
Externally Lemon Balm stimulates the senses. Simply rub the leaf between your fingers or on your clothing to smell lemony all day. Fresh leaves can soothe insect bites.
Other Uses It is used in beverages and foods.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Aerial parts The aerial portions of the plant are used both medicinally and in the culinary arts.
If you suffer from hypothyroid and take medications, lemon balm may interfere with it. There is some suggestion that it may also interfere with the effectiveness of sedatives used for insomnia.
Preparation and Dosage
For herbal tea, place a handful of fresh crushed leaves in a teapot of hot water. Let steep for ten minutes. Strain and drink as needed.
Lemon balm oil or lotion can be rubbed on herpes lesions. Alternatively, make an infusion from 2 to 4 teaspoons of herb in 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes and apply several times per day to the lesions with a cotton ball.
A balm tincture can be taken at the dose of 40 to 90 drops 3 times per day.
For capsules, take 300 to 500 mg of lemon balm 3 times per day.