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Benefits and energetics of Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a plant that grows rather freely and for some is considered a nuisance. What some don’t realize is that lemon balm has many benefits from being good for sleep and relaxation to helping digestion and even easing headaches and other pains. Making a lemon balm tincture or tea is a great way to utilize its amazing benefits while also using up the herbal bounty in your backyard!



Farm dog helper for Lemon Balm Harvest
Lemon Balm Harvest

Benefits of Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a highly medicinal plant with many benefits for our health.

It is a mint family herb with a distinct and highly aromatic lemony scent that can easily be grown and foraged easily.

Lemon Balm is an attractive herb with bright heart-shaped green leaves and spreads rapidly via underground stems and seeds. It is a favorite plant of cottage gardens as it is also a mosquito and pest repellent. It is very easy to grow and is a wonderful starter herb for those new to growing medicinal plants.The word “balm”is derived from the word,“balsam”, which is a gummy substance that comes from trees that was commonly used to heal wounds and sores. Lemon Balm has a long traditional use as a balm for the nervous system, easing anxiety and lifting depression.Lemon Balm has a deep relationship with bees. Bees love to visit Lemon Balm’s white flower and make a most delicious honey from its pollen. Its Latin name, Melissa,means “of the bees” and was this plant is still rubbed on hives by bee keepers to attractbees(6, 7).In my practice, I call upon the medicine of Lemon Balm when a person’s spark is lowand they are in need of a gentle lift. It is also an excellent remedy for general nervousness, tension, and digestive issues.Lemon Balm will merry-up the spirits when one is feeling bogged down by the heaviness of life’s challenges.


Lemon Balm Leaf
Lemon Balm

Taste and Energetics

Bright, lemony, citrusy, and refreshing.The energy of Lemon Balm moves both upward and downward. It lifts the spirits and supports cognition and mental vigor with its upward lifting capacity and calms excessive mental activity, nervousness, and heart palpitations with its downward grounding actions.Lemon Balm has a sour taste and thus it is cooling (Matthew Wood, 2012). It also has a gentle cleansing effect.It contains some tannins so when steeped for a long period of time these drying compounds will be extracted. Therefore a shorter steeping time is recommended.


Historical Uses

One of the earliest known descriptions of lemon balm appeared in Historia Plantarum by Greek philosopher and botanist Theophrastus of Eresus (372-287 BCE). Eleventh century Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna was an early advocate for the use of lemon balm in treating depression/melancholy (3). According to an old Arabian proverb, “Balm makes the heart merry and joyful.” Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus( 1493-1541) believed that lemon balm was an“elixir of life” and would increase strength and lengthen life.


Safety

Lemon Balm is considered to be a very safe. It is a well-tolerated herb and there are no significant interactions noted. Because of its sedative effects it is cautioned to mind fully use Lemon Balm alongside other sedatives such as barbituates. Drug interactions are theoretically possible with those taking drugs for hypothyroidism but no studies have been done. For those with hypothyroidism caution is advised. (Braunand Cohen, 2015). As with any herbs, discontinue taking immediately if you notice any symptoms and consult a licensed medical professional.


Dosage Range

Fresh Herb: 3-4 grams, three times a day

Dried Herb: 1.5- 4.5 grams in hot water

Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on to one teaspoon

full of the dried herb and let steep overnight

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