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Lemon Balm {Melissa Officinalis} Monograph



LEMON BALM

Melissa Officinalis


Common Name

Lemon Balm, Sweet Balm, Balm Mint, Melissa


Family

Lamiaceae


Parts Used

Leaves


Native To

Mediterranean region, South and Central Europe


Geographic Distribution

Cultivated worldwide


Botanical Description

Lemon balm is a small, perennial plant with single, oppositely arranged

leaves that have scalloped or toothed margins. In appearance it is very like

its cousin, peppermint, but has a mild, lemony smell.


Like other members of the mint family (lamiaceae), Lemon Balm has square

stems.


Lemon Balm’s flowers are white or yellow and have a tubular appearance. It

has 5 connected petals and 4 stamen.


The whole plant is covered in downy hairs.


Key Constituents

  • Volatile Oils (antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic)

  • Tannins (astringent/tightening, wound healing)

  • Polyphenols (micronutrients with antioxidant activity and a wide range of

  • potential health benefits)

  • Flavonoids (a polyphenol group - antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

  • activities)

  • Phenolic Acids/Rosmarinic Acid (another polyphenol group with anti-

  • inflammatory and anti-allergic properties)


Harvesting Guidelines

Pinch off leaves as required. Most potent just before flowering.



Actions

Nervine

Antidepressant

Antiviral

Antibacterial

Carminative

Antispasmodic

Radioprotective


Taste

Lemony

Sweet

Sour

Astringent


Energy

Cooling

Drying


What do ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, honeybees, Paracelsus the

Alchemist, and Thomas Jefferson have in common? They all revered Lemon Balm for its healing properties! Lemon Balm has been used medicinally for at least 2000 years, with documented use in ancient Greece and Rome. Paracelsus, a Swiss physician and alchemist, had his students create a lemon balm spagyric as their very first alchemical

potion. Thomas Jefferson planted lemon balm in his gardens at Monticello.


Herbalists in both ancient and modern times have turned to Lemon Balm as

a cooling, relaxing, and uplifting medicine. Many modern studies have

confirmed the efficacy of Lemon Balm for anxiety, stress, tension headaches,

nervous stomach disorders, depression, sleep disorders, and hyperactivity.

Lemon Balm improves mood, concentration, and soothes the central

nervous system. The essential oils in lemon balm have antiviral and antibacterial actions and it makes a very tasty cup of tea. An interesting study involving radiology workers showed that the antioxidant activity of lemon balm tea can have a protective effect on DNA, both protecting cells from radiation damage and reversing existing damage to tissues.


My favorite way to use lemon balm is to make tea. I love to combine lemon balm with tulsi and add a slice of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Lemon balm can also be made in a cold infusion, which is very tasty during the summer, or try making lemon balm popsicles (kids and adults love them)! Lemon balm can also be tinctured. It is a wonderful herb for children to work with and is nice paired with other gentle nervines like lavender. I also like lemon balm as a relaxant diaphoretic in the second stage of fever where the fever has run its course and done its job and now the tension and heat need to be released.



Safety


Some studies (but none in humans) have shown a depressing effect on the

thyroid. If you have an under-active thyroid you may want to exercise

caution in using Lemon Balm in therapeutic amounts.


*The content of this monograph is for educational purposes only. The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. Ingesting wild plants is inherently risky. Plants can easily be mistaken and every individual will vary in their physiological response to a plant that is touched or consumed. Please do not attempt self-treatment of a medical problem without consulting a qualified health practitioner

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