Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and is sometimes known as Lemon Mint, Melissa, Bee Balm, Sweet Balm or Cure-All and is the sweetest of all the herb family.
Originating in the mountains of Southern Europe, lemon balm has now spread worldwide and has always been associated with the relieving of melancholy. The pretty white flowers of the lemon balm plant have led to its widespread cultivation in gardens.
Lemon balm can be easily grown by taking cuttings and is happy in the garden or even indoors as a pot plant as long as it gets some light and sun, so a kitchen window is often ideal. Lemon balm benefits from being cut back hard at the end of summer to encourage new growth and it happily attracts bees to your garden. The leaves can be picked at any time – just take care not to bruise them unnecessarily.
This herb has so many benefits too:
In the home
- Use as an ingredient in pot pourri or hang up bunches of leaves in your closets to deter moths.
- Use for polishing your furniture by taking a handful of green leaves and rubbing over the wooden surface. The oil in the leaves is absorbed by the wood while the crushed leaves impart a lingering lemony fragrance.
In the bathroom
- Use the lemon balm leaves in infusions for a facial or as a rinse for hair that tends to be greasy.
- You can also add the leaves to some vinegar when rinsing your hair.
- Add lemon balm leaves to bath water for their aroma and soothing, anti-stress benefits.
- Mix some leaves with aqueous cream and then rub into aching feet to soothe.
In the kitchen
- A delicious drink is to pour a liter of boiling water over a cup of lemon balm leaves before cooling and straining. Then add the juice of two lemons and a liter of clear apple juice. If necessary, add some honey to sweeten and then serve chilled.
- You can serve the same beverage but warmed instead of chilled to combat indigestion and if taken after a heavy meal, it will help to digest fatty dishes.
- Lemon balm leaves can be added to a fresh fruit salad.
- Freeze a spring of lemon balm in ice cubes for a fresh and appealing addition when serving drinks.
- Lemon balm is delicious with fish and cheese dishes because of its lemony flavor. It can also be used to good effect with cucumber, celery and asparagus.
In the medicine cabinet
Make a hot lemon balm tea by adding one or two sprigs into a cup of boiling water. Stand for 5 minutes before straining and sweetening with a little honey if preferred.
1. This tea has a reviving effect and helps settle nerves.
2. It can relieve an upset stomach, flatulence, bloating, nausea, vomiting and cramps related to colitis.
3. Drink lemon balm tea to soothe ailments related to menstruation, such as cramps and premenstrual syndrome.
4. It helps with many conditions such as insomnia
, depression, indigestion, anxiety, tension, stress, fear and panic.
5. Cooled lemon balm tea will be soothing for anyone who has been bitten by insects, by a dog or is generally upset or anxious.
6. It is also beneficial for coughs and colds. Gargle with lemon balm tea if you have a sore throat or swish it in your mouth to relieve toothaches. It works well as a regular but natural mouthwash because the herb can kill bacteria.
And there is more
- Lemon balm contains a pain reliever called eugenol. This makes it a good supplement to take for headaches, soreness or muscle spasms.
- The leaves themselves can be placed fresh directly onto insect bites and sores or applied as a poultice.
- Use of lemon balm extends far beyond its pleasant scent for soothing teas and aromatherapy.
The health benefits attributed to this member of the mint family are widespread.
All of the plant - the flowers, the stems and the leaves - can be used for medicinal purposes and its role in medical treatments can be traced back as far as the time of Roman Renaissance man Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79).