Melissa officinalis or Lemon Balm in common speak. Is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). A medicinal, square stemmed herb originating from southern Europe. Lemon Balm is now a naturalized medicinal plant in the US and Canada. Sometimes called Bee Balm as honeybees favor this herbaceous plant. Mildly antiviral, the hairy leaves made into a tea have a gentle, relaxing, and soothing effect. Just the thing for these stressful times.
Lemon Balm: herbal tea for stress
During my wandering years of traveling the west and investigating old homesteads in both the US and Canada. I found two plants that frequently showed up. One was Lemon Balm and the other Horehound also a plant of the mint family.
I realized these plants were clues that affirmed original homesteads. The herb is hardy and easy to grow. Is used for medicine, added to food and drink recipes, a helpful draw for insect pollinators. An important herb and helpful plant to have on hand.
Lemon Balm's Calming Effect
Citral and Citronellal are responsible for lemon balms lemon taste and aroma. If you know this plant, you know the value of its crushed leaf scent. It has an immediate calming and uplifting effect. And a simple leaf tea can be made to advantage its relaxing effect.
Lemon Balm is not a strong medicine. "It has no side effects and can be mixed with other herbs in a beneficial way. A simple sedative and effective mood elevator and antidepressant. An effective Antispasmodic for conditions such as menstrual cramps, stomach, diarrhea, and gas pain." ~Michael Moore. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West.
Lemon Balm also known by its European Pharmacopoeial name, Melissae folium, has a long history of medicinal use for mild stress relief and aid to sleep. M. folium is also documented to *"treat the symptoms of mild digestive disorders including bloating and flatulence (wind)."
"Mildly antiviral and the tea can be drunk for flu, head colds and fevers. There is relevance for use with specific virus's" and other treatments in researching the Pharmacopoeial.
*Lemon balm has documented antiviral effects. "Some studies involving human subjects have shown that topical preparations of lemon balm are effective against herpes simplex." Especially cold sores.
An Herb Society of America PDF, has voluminous information on this useful herb including a host of great recipes. Lemon Balm is truly a versatile herb and one you will want to have on hand and in your garden or in a pot on the windowsill.
Plant Lemon Balm in your Garden
The photo of Lemon Balm above is a transplant from an old homestead east of Elkton, OR. The herb transplants easily, rarely need fertilizing, does well in medium to large pots, 5 gallon and larger.
Your neighbor or friend has Melissa officinalis growing in the garden you could transplant to your own.
You can also plant it in your garden bed. It is prolific and gardeners do complain that it takes over. If this is a worry, try a flowerpot instead.
Companion Plants with Lemon Balm
Attractive with its light lemony green color. We grow Nasturtium on the coast and these edible and happy plants make great companion plants with Melissa officinalis. Planting will attract Honeybees. Which is always good to have these busy pollinators out in the garden.
We have Bleeding Heart growing in our planter of Melissa officinalis. They grow well together as you can see in the very top photo of the two plants.
We do enjoy this special herb. And will often pick and crush a leaf and sit with it for its calming effect. Not a strong flavored member of the mint family. Just a gentle feel-good herb that reminds us to slow down and enjoy this wonderful world we are part of.
*As mentioned earlier, this plant is also known as Bee Balm, it should not be confused with ("Monarda
didyma, which also bears this common name").
If you are familiar with Lemon Balm. We would like to hear how you use it. If you enjoy it and any questions or comments you have about this plant.
In time when you can wander again. You may find your own patch of Melissa officinalis hiding in the grass of an old homestead. Happy foraging.