Plant of the Month: Lemon Balm
Melissa officinale

Lemon Balm is a hearty perennial that easily grows in the sun or partial shade. Of all the mints that grow in my garden, lemon balm is the one children seem most attracted to, and it seems to have a special effect on them. If your child (of any age) is nervous, whining or crying for no apparent reason, try a cup of lemon balm infusion. Its soothing and calming effect seem almost immediate! Its fresh lemon-y scent is uplifting, yet relaxing, filling your senses with delight. Lemon balm has a cooling effect on the body along with its summery fragrance! Make a pot of cooling lemon(balm)ade by infusing fresh leaves in boiling water at least an hour. Cool, strain and add ice cubes and lemon rind for a refreshing, summer drink! It also works to cool off fevers and flu symptoms during winter months so be sure to hang small bunches out of the sun to dry for those hot conditions later.

Lemon balm is an anti-spasmodic, carminative herb that has an affinity for the digestive system. Drink a cup of lemon balm infusion to relieve stomach spasms, or flatulence, especially when they’re associated with anxiety or depression. It’s also effective if your anxiety is causing migraines, insomnia or excessive heart palpitations. Lemon balm’s sedative oils relieve tension and stress reactions, restoring your nervous system to a less frazzled state. Think of Melissa’s relaxing qualities the next time your lifestyle is moving faster than you like it. Drink a cup of infusion half an hour before bed for a deep and restful sleep. Or try adding your strained infusion to the running water of a de-stressing bath.. saving a cup for sipping while you soak!

If you suffer from recurrent herpes simplex (HSV-1), several topical creams now include lemon balm. Phenolic compounds fight herpes by attaching to the virus receptor sites, inhibiting the virus’ ability to spread. In a placebo-controlled double-blind study published in Phytomedicine (1999) herpes patients using lemon balm products experienced less swelling, itching, burning and tingling and healed faster than the control group. I make an oil from very dry, fresh leaves, before the plant flowers, and add it to my lip balms as a preventative measure for friends who have the cold sore virus. I’ve also used Melissa’s anti-viral qualities in other preparations to treat colds, flus and coughs.

If your lemon balm has already flowered, cut it back for another harvest. Put your clippings in a mason jar and cover them with apple cider vinegar for at least six weeks, then strain, rebottle and label the vinegar. You’ll enjoy the lemony taste of your mineral-rich Vitality Vinegar in any salad dressing, or mixed with an equal amount of honey into water for a cup of herbal-aid! Fresh lemon balm leaves can also be chopped and added to salads, tabouli or hummus for a little extra zest! Or try infusing her in brandy or honey for variations in your lemon balm remedies for the many occasions listed above! ENJOY!

Over the years I have been blessed with many inspirational teachers. I thank them for sharing their wisdom through their lectures, workshops, websites and books. For more information about Lemon Balm and many other herbs, enjoy these insightful and informative resources.

Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar
Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
A Woman's Book of Herbs by Deb Soule

(Ash Tree Publishing, 2002) Click for website
(Storey Books, 2001) Click for website
(Element Books, 1996)
(Citadel Press, 1995) Click for website
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