It’s that time of the year. I go cold turkey on the mint and start drinking Lemon Balm tea. I have a nice lemon balm plant that just grows bigger the more you take from it, and basically I put about 5 stalks into my cup every morning, and keep refilling it with hot water over the day. It smells really lovely, very uplifting.
But besides that what is it good for?
Paracelsus (15th century) said Lemon Balm would completely revivify a man.
According to Mrs Grieve’s ”A Modern Herbal” it is especially esteemed for the nervous system. And she says that John Evelyn (17th century gardener) wrote that ‘‘it is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and chasing away melancholy.” The London Dispensary of 1696 says..’it will renew youth, strengthen the brain, relieve languishing nature and cure baldness..’‘ Avicenna (11th century), the great Persian physician, philosopher and polymath said ”It makes the mind and heart merry.”
The famous herbalist Gerard (17th century) said it is very attractive for bees. Pliny (1st century Roman naturalist) said that Bees find their way home by the scent of lemon balm. The leaves are also said to make wounds close, heal green (gangrenous) wounds, and cure the venom of poisonous creatures and scorpions…not something I come across regularly. But it is the plentiful ozone in the volatile oils that makes Balm counteract putrefaction in dressings. The oils have a powerful sedative effect and thus it is good for Insomnia.
(The Lemon Balm fairy….)
It is a carminative ~ that is it relieves gas in the GI tract.
It is a diaphoretic ~ that is it makes one sweat and thus detoxifies.
It is a febrifuge ~ that is it relieves fevers.
In more modern times it is being recognised as having antihistamine qualities ~ it treats allergies.
It has anti-viral properties.
”John Hussey, of Sydenham, who lived to the age of 116, breakfasted for 50 years on Balm tea sweetened with honey..”
~ A Modern Herbal. Mrs Grieve.
I use honey too with it, at least first thing. After that just keep adding hot water.
It is used for colds, to sweat them out, for headaches, for depression and for upset digestion.
It is good for anxiety, stress, bronchitis, high blood pressure.
The leaves are heart shaped. There is a concept called the ”Doctrine of Signatures” in herbalism which was later promoted by Hermeticism. It claims that plants resemble those organs for which they are beneficial.
It is best used fresh as the oils disappear after the plant is dried. It is a non-invasive plant so handy to plant in the garden as it stays in the one place and doesn’t spread out (like mint does, even though it is in the mint family). It has a nice sounding Latin name…Melissa (officinalis)…which comes from the Greek name for a bee (Melissa).
If you take Thyroxine, don’t use Lemon Balm.
The leaves, crushed up and rubbed on the skin, are good for soothing insect bites.