Herb Article
Lemon Balm

By Liz Holtman, Certified Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist

Lemon Balm Herb
Lemon Balm

Latin Name
Melissa officinalis

Family
Lamiaceae (Mint)

Parts used
Leaves and flowers

Medicinal Properties
We are well into summer and blooming herbs are in abundance! Lemon Balm, a member of the Mint family, might be one of these herbs in your garden. Many people grow this herb for its delicious lemon scent and flavor. Not only does this herb make a tasty cup of tea, it also possesses many medicinal properties for children, adults and elders alike!

Some herbalists use Lemon Balm as a trophorestorative for the nervous system. Trophorestoratives have traditionally been used to nourish, strengthen, and feed a specific system--in Lemon Balm's case, that would be the nervous system. Lemon Balm's mild sedative properties have historically been used for insomnia, anxiety, stress induced headaches, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. For some folks, Lemon Balm can also be a gentle mood up-lifter. Lemon Balm's gentle and calming properties make it a safe and tasty choice for hyper, agitated, or cranky children.

Because of Lemon Balm's calming effect on the nervous system, it can help provide relief in cases of a "nervous stomach." When there is indigestion due to stress or anxiety, Lemon Balm can help to relieve spasms, cramps and gas of the digestive tract.

Lemon Balm has been shown in clinical studies to exhibit strong antiviral properties. Applied topically, the diluted essential oil of Lemon Balm, commonly called Melissa, is effective at preventing and relieving cold sores, genital herpes, chicken pox and shingle outbreaks. All three viruses live in the nerves, so Lemon Balm's antiviral action along with its affinity for the nervous system makes it an ideal remedy.

Like other members of the Mint family, Lemon Balm can be both cooling and warming energetically. A cold infusion of Lemon Balm can cool you off during a hot summer day or help to reduce the severity of hot flashes in menopause. A hot infusion of Lemon Balm is traditionally used as a diaphoretic to break a fever--especially useful for children.

Caution
Lemon Balm may interact with the action of thyroid hormones, people with hypo or hyperthyroid should consult a practitioner before use.

Preparations & Applications
Lemon Balm is traditionally prepared as a tincture and tea. Fresh plant tincture is thought to be stronger and more effective but dried plant tincture can be used as well. The tea can be made as a hot or cold infusion, depending on what energetic effect you desire. I think that a cold infusion is ideal for cooling off during these hot summer days. To make a cold infusion place Lemon Balm in a glass jar with the appropriate amount of cold water (one tablespoon per cup of water). Cap the jar and let the Lemon Balm infuse overnight. Strain the tea in the morning. Drink at room temperature, cool in the fridge or pour over ice. The diluted essential oil or Lemon Balm infused olive oil can be used topically on skin.

Recipe

Chill Out Tea
This tasty tea can help to chill you out in a few ways. On a hot summer day this can be prepared as a cold infusion to help beat the summer heat. It can also be prepared hot or cold to help calm the nerves and soothe the soul. Enjoy!
1 part Lemon Balm
1/2 part Linden
1/2 part Spearmint
1/4 part Hibiscus
1/4 part Chamomile
Touch of Rose Petals

Herb of the Month Resources
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Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmend Skenderi
The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood
Herbal Medicine Trends and Traditions by Charles Kane