Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is part of the Lamiaceae or mint family. These plants all tend to produce well year after year. It grows anywhere that has sunshine and moisture. You may want to grow it in a pot or raised bed to keep it contained as it tends to spread out.
You can see the beautiful scalloped leaves and course hairy stem.
After it starts growing you can harvest it often to use for a variety of things. It is one of my favorite plants to use in the springtime. The energetics of this plant keep me coming back each spring. The lemony fresh greenness is uplifting. It helps to clear our energy.
Use of lemon balm dates to the Middle Ages. It was used to support people with stress and anxiety. It can help to promote sleep. Within the digestive system it can improve a person’s appetite. There were times it was used for indigestion, assisting with gas and bloating. Because it could help with digestive issues it was used to help babies that suffered with colic.
Even before the Middle Ages some cultures would steep lemon balm in wine to help lift people’s spirits.
In today’s herbal preparations lemon balm can be mashed into a paste and used as a compress to sooth venomous insect bites and stings. Herbalists will also infuse it into oil and make a cream to ease cold sore pain. It is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs such as valerian, chamomile or hops to promote relaxation. (1)
With this information I created my own capsules to assist with anxiety and sleep.
Dehydrate fresh lemon balm leaves
6 hours @ 105 degrees in a food dehydrator or oven
Grind leaves into a powder in a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Ninja
Fill 00 capsules
I take 2-3 capsule per day to assist with calming.
*Before adding any supplements consult with your doctor or health care professional.
In 2014 there was a study conducted about the anti-stress effects of lemon balm. Within that study they also mention that lemon balm can have positive benefits on memory. (2)
As I shared in my garden walk video I enjoy making a lemon balm tea. There are so many options available. For a nice herbal infusion mix a few stalks worth of peppermint leaves and lemon balm leaves in a quart size jar and cover with hot water. Allow it to cool and enjoy.
Another simple way to use lemon balm in your meals would be to cut up a few leaves and sprinkle them on a green or fruit salad.
A third way that can provide variety to your meals is by creating a simple syrup.
Lemon Balm Simple Syrup
A medium size sauce pan
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
1-2 cups of tightly packed lemon balm leaves
Bring the water and sugar to a boil, turn down to a simmer and allow to reduce some. Add the lemon balm leaves and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off and cool. Strain and store in canning jar.
This simple syrup can be added to iced tea or cocktails. Another sweet treat option would be to top ice cream.
The essential oil made from lemon balm goes by it’s botanical name Melissa (Melissa officinalis). The scent remains fresh, lemony and herbaceous. The plant doesn’t produce a lot of oil when steam distilled so it can be pricy.
With the lightness of the lemon fragrance it is consider a top-middle note fragrance.
This fragrance is often used for support people with sleep disorders. It can help relieve insomnia. It is supportive of the nervous system, helping to ease stress, anxiety and depression.
The essential oil can be found in products that ease symptoms from fungal infections and viral skin infections.
For topical use it is important to always dilute it with a carrier. Due to the chemical make up it can cause skin sensitization. Do not use any product containing this essential oil on small children.
Materials: 5ml amber bottle
15 drops Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobilis)
30 drops Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
25 drops Rose Otto (Rosa damascena)
30 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Mix oils together and place in a 5 ml bottle and use 3-4 drops in a diffuser to create a peaceful environment.
The above blend is from page 71 of my book Aromatherapy for Menopause Success.
The bounty of spring really encourages me to get back in the kitchen. It is always nice to enhance my meals with fresh flavors after winter when everything starts getting stagnant. These are 5 ways that I use lemon balm in my daily life.
Do you have a favorite spring herb you add to your dishes? Please share in the comments below.
1. Penn State Hershey, http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx., Overview Lemon Balm, accessed 6/4/20
2. NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245564/, Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm – Containing Foods, accessed 6/4/20