Melissa officinalis is also known as Balm, lemon balm, Melissa or bee balm and has been used medicinally for some 2000 years and has a long medicinal record. It grows happily in pots or the garden, and is fantastic as a tea. Simply pick some leaves, rip them apart a bit and put them in a tea pot or cup. You can also pick some leaves now and dry them for tea in the winter months. Don’t add milk and if you need a sweetener, add a small teaspoon of honey.
Why drink it? It’s most commonly known for its calming effect on the mind and body. It has an antidepressant action and is a brilliant stress buster so use it for nervous tension, irritability, anxiety, or sleep problems. It calms but doesn’t induce sleepiness. In fact studies have shown it can increase concentration and focus. It’s antispasmodic and relaxant chemicals also reduce muscle tension. But that’s not all, it soothes painful, itching and inflamed skin conditions with it’s antihistamine and antiviral properties. And then, as if that’s not enough, it’s known throughout the world for promoting long life.
With spotty, hot or angry skin, for example eczema, drink it as tea but also add some leaves to boiling water and use as a wash. Lemon balm contains many volatile oils. It can be used externally as an essential oil – never take essential oil internally as it is so strong it is dangerous. Don’t put it directly onto painful skin, dilute it – 2 drops to at least 40 mls of water and test it.
So what are you waiting for, go and put the kettle on and have yourself some lovely lemon balm tea.
CAUTION: there are reports that it may block some of the activity of the thyroid hormone. If you have overactive thyroid this is helpful, but if you have an underactive thyroid, it is best to avoid lemon balm, even as a tea. It is also best avoided if you have glaucoma. If you have any ongoing medical concerns, do not use herbal medicine without consulting a medical herbalist. Check #NIMH website for those in your area and please call me for further information.