20 Aug 2009

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, also known as melissa and cure-all, originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region and is a member of the mint family. It was a favourite healing plant of the Arabs and Ancient Greeks. The lemon name came from it's lemony perfume and taste, and the melissa name came from the Greek word for bees as the plant attracts bees.

In Mediaeval Europe it was not only used in herbal medicine but was also grown in the monastery gardens and used in the making of drinks like Carmelite Water and the liqueurs Benedictine and Chartreuse. In Tudor times it was used to clarify beer before hops were used for that purpose.

The constituents of lemon balm are volatile oils (citral, eugenol, citronellal, linalool, geraniol), a natural polyphenol rosmarinic acid, antiviral tannins and flavonoids. These give it antibacterial, antispasmodic, calming and antiviral healing effects. Known as a cure-all in the past this has been backed up by modern studies to show that it is useful in many kinds of natural healing. It's great calminative properties of the tea, for all age groups, helps to relieve anxiety, tension headaches, insomnia, nervous stomachs and flatulent dyspepsia, exam stress and tantrums, and is often combined with other calming herbs like hops, valerian and chamomile to enhance this effect. Lemon balm extract has been shown to be excellent against herpes simplex and dries up cold sores. The tea also relieves colds and helps to lower blood pressure and be useful when treating an over-active thyroid. The eugenol in lemon balm is a natural pain reliever so a compress made from lemon balm is said to relieve painful joints. All in all a very useful herb.

NOTE: People with thyroid disorders, who are pregnant or if suffering from night sweats should consult their health care provider before taking this herbal supplement. Never use the tea non stop for more than 10 days without taking a few days break.

It is well worth growing this perennial in or outdoors so you always have fresh or dried leaves on hand. For simple growing instructions go to the Herb Gardening website or any other favourite gardening site. When gardening, rub lemon balm leaves on your skin and it will repel any mosquitoes which may be around plus it can be used to treat anyinsect bites you may get. Bee keepers love lemon balm as they rub this lemon balm on the hives and it attract new bees and keep the old ones there.

Lemon balm leaves are distilled to obtain it's essential oil. This oil normally goes under the name of Melissa Oil. It can be used in massage oils, compresses and creams.

Lemon balm is a wonderful addition to many dishes. It not only can be used as a garnish but can be added to fruit and vegetable salads, fruit drinks, herb butters and sorbets. It combines well with berries, apples, peaches, melons, corn, broccoli, beans and asparagus. Substitute for lemon rind in jam and marmalades. And remember the tea is not only for medicinal reasons but makes a wonderful drink whether served hot or cold. Enjoy!


Lemon Balm Tea - 1 Cup

1 heaping tablespoon of dried leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh leaves

Place in cup. Pour over boiling water. Let brew for 5-10 minutes, strain, add sweetener of choice if required. Relax and enjoy your cup of tea.

Michael Moore's Stomach Tea

3 parts comfrey leaf
2 parts peppermint leaf
1 part lemon balm leaf

Drink as a simple infusion for gastritis and pre-ulcer pain.

Lemon Astringent

1 tbsp fresh lemon balm
1 cup witch hazel

Combine the ingredients in a jar and screw on lid. Steep for 7 to 10 days. Refrigerate. Apply with cotton ball.

Cold Sore Lotion

1 tsp organic cider vinegar
2 drops melissa pure essential oil
1 drop tea tree pure essential oil
2 tsp boiled water

Put all ingredients in dark glass bottle. Shake well, apply with cotton bud 3 times a day.

Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
From Preferred Customer
By Sherril Steele-Carlin

1 tbsp shallots, minced
2 tbsp lemon balm, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp. brown sugar
8 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix first 7 ingredients together, then slowly blend in the oil. Mix well before serving. This is delicious on salads. Makes about 2/3 cup.

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Lender said...

Thank you for pointing out the wonderful medicinal and culinary uses of lemon balm.

Marion said...

Now here is an herb I really like! It made it through our harsh winter last year and is even growing well in the present drought we're having.

What an incredible plant!

meril said...

Hello, this is the second time I am visiting your site. I found some interesting information in your blog. keep up the nice work.
Thanks for the information.

Corry said...

I love your site and put a link up on my blogs:

Experiencing Rheumatoid Arthritis:
News Knowledge:
All Over The Map:

A link back would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

God's Grace.

Cheryl Anderson (SwineInsanity) said...

THank you for posting this... I have this plant growing in my yard... I heard it also repels mosquitos, though I am not sure.. Say the same thing about lavender...Thank you again..

Jackie said...

Thanks everyone.

Cheryl other herbs for mosquitoes are said to be basil, catnip, eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, pine, pennyroyal, elderflower leaf and cajeput. You can also take a Vit-B complex tab or garlic internally daily as they do not like the odor your skin gives off when taking them.

brooklynposdotcom said...

the stomach one is a definite must try!! from blog explosion :)

TheSecretsofSkinCare said...

There are so many skin care products you can make at home. I have compiled a nice collection of videos and articles to help you determine what skin care techniques are good for you and your particular skin type at

Greenearth said...

So pleased to have discovered your wonderful blogs again. Have linked them both on my new site and look forward to returning and discovering more of your knowledge on vegan food and herbs.

Greenearth said...

The links are at

Seemed to have messed up the link on my previous comment.

Spice Rack said...

Great post about using Lemon Balm.