“Sweetening the Spirit”
Common Names: Melissa, Balm
Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis
Plant Family: Lamiaceae, Mint Family
Parts Used: Aerial part of plat, Leaves are rich in essential oil
Actions: Diaphoretic, calmative, antispasmodic, carminative, emmenagogue, stomachic (Systems affected: Lungs, Liver)
Habitat: Lemon balm is a wild cultivar. Make sure to plant it in an area where it can spread. It prefers full-sun, but grows well in partial shade. I have seen it growing underneath Douglas firs and red cedars at one of my favorite parks in Washington. Wildcrafting? Someone was spreading her seeds…
Collection: I tend to collect the whole plant before it blooms. Ideally this is mid-late spring. And I also cut it back before winter hits. So I can get anywhere from 2-4 harvests a year.
CAUTION: Those suffering from hypothyroidism or low thyroid activity should use lemon balm with guidance of a health practitioner. Lemon Balm is a Thyroid Inhibitor.
Lemon Balm Medicine:
Another diaphoretic! It seems as if there are so many herbal options to induce sweating and break a fever. Lemon Balm is an old remedy of this kind. At the first signs of a fever, cold or flu, drink a cup of lemon balm tea, curl up under a lot of blankets or cover yourself with warm clothes, and allow the sweat to pour out.
If congestion has already taken hold, a nice herbal steam with hot lemon balm tea and a strong, aromatic essential oil (such as eucalyptus or thyme) will help open the nasal and lung passageway. Herbal steams in general help with stuffy nose, lung congestion, allergies, asthma, cough, and sinus infections. Adding lemon balm tea as the base will enhance the aromatic oils that help heal and stop infections.
Depression, Melancholy and Nervous Tension
Lemon Balm is uplifting. Just take a sniff and the citrus smell of lemons overwhelms you. It’s almost as if you get hit by vitamin C. Lesley Tierra recommends combing lemon balm with chamomile in a tea for children’s complaints such as: restlessness, insomnia, whining, crying, colic, teething, sadness and depression. Lemon Balm is said to comfort the heart and drive away sadness. It works with the nervous system to relieve tension and lift spirits.
Specifically, Lemon Balm’s rich concentration in citral and citronellal volatile oils calms the nervous and digestive systems. An infusion of this herb can help anyone dealing with heartache and depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and also ADD or ADHD.
As stated above the volatile oils help both the nervous and digestive systems. The Children’s Happy Tea (a combination of lemon balm and chamomile) can also be used as a digestion tea. After a meal or before bed, this combination will calm the stomach and help digestive enzymes properly run their course.
Herpes and Shingles
Lemon balm is rich in polyphenols that have a strong antiviral action. This helps both internally and externally to rid/soothe herpes and shingles. I make a fomentation (a strong tea and dip a cloth into the hot water, then apply it to the area of herpes outbreak) with strong lemon balm tea.
Make as: Tea, Infusion, Sun tea, Tincture, Syrup, Bath, Capsule, Pill, Powder, Poultice, Salve, Fomentation, Oil, Dream Pillow
Lemon Balm Remedies:
Children’s Happy Potion
1 tsp. lemon balm
½ tsp. chamomile
1 cup water
Infuse herbs in tea for 15-25 minutes (depending on the strength you’d like). Strain and sweeten to taste. –Lesley Tierra, A Kid’s Herb Book
“Maketh the Heart Merry” Tea
2 pt. lemon balm
1 pt. angelica root
½ pt. lemon peel
¼ pt. nutmeg
Tincture these herbs or make a tea with them. You may want to combine with honey to sweeten the flavor. Use as a relaxing herbal aid or digestive tonic.
A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra
Medicinal Herbs; A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladsta