Parts used medicinally: Leaves
Lemon balm is so named due to the wonderful sweetish lemon scent that oozes from its leaves. It is an amazing herb and is traditionally used to help with low mood, anxiety & tension. As well as calming the nervous system, it also has a relaxing effect on the digestive system so is commonly used for things like IBS and flatulent indigestion.
What is Lemon Balm?
Lemon balm - sometimes referred to as Melissa, Bee balm or Sweet balm - is a popular member of the mint family and actually looks quite similar to mint. Lemon Balm infusions are produced from the Melissa officinalis plant which has small oval-shaped serrated edged leaves and have a fresh green, intense citrusy note.
The famous Avicenna referred to it as the herb ‘to make the heart merry’. This is most likely some indication of its traditional use by herbalists as a mild antidepressant (the amazing smell alone is enough to make one happy in my opinion!).
Lemon balm is considered to be a calming herb with relaxing sedative properties - so it's often used to treat anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.
It's also anti-spasmodic, which just means that it's able to reduce muscle spasms, particularly those in the digestive tract which are usually large contributors to IBS.
Other indications of Lemon balm include fevers and headaches/migraines.
Lemon balm's special anti-viral properties make it useful in cases of common cold and flu, and topically for cold sores.
Did You Know?
- Lemon balm has anti-viral properties (internally and externally) and so is commonly used in cases of cold sores (herpes virus) and common cold/flu.
- Europeans used to toss Lemon balm on floors to freshen up rooms.
Lemon Balm & Me
- You might like to try some fresh Lemon balm tea (remember to cover whilst brewing to keep all the wonderful essential oils in the infusion!).
- Lemon balm essential oil (though quite expensive) could be used in a diffuser as aromatherapy.
- Lemon balm tincture could be useful to carry around or have at your desk if you suffer from stress and anxiety.
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.