Ahhh, Lemon Balm…Just speaking the name of this plant helps my jaw and shoulders to relax. I’d definitely say it is one of my favorite herbs of all time. And apparently I’m not alone. Paracelsus, a famed Swiss philosopher, physician, and alchemist from the Renaissance era, believed it was the only herb a person ever needed. Many of my herbalist friends say it is at the top of their list as well, and even my mother says it is her very favorite remedy. I think it really is the perfect plant ally for the times we are living in.
Lemon Balm’s Latin name is Melissa officinalis. Melissa comes from the greek word for honeybee, and bees love lemon balm. Whenever an herb has officinalis in its name it means it is a plant that has been historically documented as a medicine. Lemon balm is in the mint family. One of my favorite things about this plant is the lemony scent. Try rubbing a leaf between your fingers and inhale deeply. Sometimes that is all that’s needed to take the edge off of a stressful day.
Lemon Balm is probably most known for easing tension in the nervous system. But the remarkable thing is that it does this by promoting a calm clarity, without any drowsiness. I notice when I take the time to sip some (hot or iced) lemon balm tea in the afternoon, I come back to my work refreshed, and and with a renewed sense of focus. It is especially helpful for those of us who get overstimulated by excessive stress or anxiety. The next time you feel like your mind is going into a million different places, and you can’t seem to focus on one thing at a time, try some lemon balm tea or tincture. I find it really helps me get to that desired place of feeling alert, yet peacefully calm.
Even though it can be taken during the day without drowsiness, Lemon Balm can also help you get a better night’s sleep. Many folks with mild to moderate insomnia have great results when taking 1-2 dropperfuls of lemon balm tincture about a half hour before bed, then again at bedtime. If you try this I recommend also keeping the bottle by your bedside, in the case that you do wake up in the middle of the night.
Due to its calming action on the nervous system, Lemon Balm has also been used for throbbing, pounding headaches that are caused by tension. Same for stress-related digestive issues (think butterflies in the stomach) or other simple imbalances that can be caused by stress & tension. Sipping some tea or taking a dropperful of tincture is a nice way to relax both the digestive and nervous systems after dinner.
Lemon Balm has been used successfully as part of a protocol when dealing with certain types of depression. It is NOT a cure for depression of any kind, but instead can be a supportive piece of a holistic therapy. It is specifically used for when depression is accompanied by an overstressed, burned out nervous system, and is best combined with other supportive herbs such as Milky Oats, Skullcap, &/or St. John’s Wort in this situation. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is strongly advised that you seek the advice of an experienced practitioner, as depression is complex, and having an individualized plan is extremely important for the healing process.
Lemon balm is diaphoretic, which means it can assist the body in sweating out a fever. It also happens to be mildly antiviral. These qualities combined with its lemony taste make it an excellent herb for children during cold & flu season. If your child is reluctant to take a tea or glycerite tincture, you can add honey and lemon to the tea and freeze it into popsicle molds. Herbal popsicles are a fun way to get kids to take their herbs!
Lemon Balm is cooling, and makes a wonderful iced or sun tea on a hot day. It is my very favorite summertime tea. You can just pour water over it and let it steep in the sun all day. I do this in the morning, and strain it around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Add sweetener and/or lemon, and you have a refreshing summer cooler. I sometimes like to add other herbs from my garden, like rose, lavender, or mint. Yum!
For those of you who are looking to try some lemon balm products, I highly recommend our Sweet Peace Glycerite. This is an alcohol-free tincture formulated with lemon balm, chamomile, and catnip. It is an excellent combination to try for most of the above issues listed. I especially love it for menstrual cramps, as a gentle sleep aid, and whenever I need to chill out and take it down a notch. It is generally safe for children & adults, and kids love the sweet flavor. It is a staple in my house for the entire family. To purchase some now, click this link. If you are interested in just a simple Lemon Balm glycerite tincture, we will have a fresh batch back in stock by the end of July, so check back in the shop then, or better yet, join our mailing list to be the first to hear when it’s back in.
I believe Lemon Balm is a must have herb to have on hand. If you have a garden, get yourself a Lemon Balm plant. It attracts pollinators, and you will be able to enjoy it whenever you need it. I encourage you to try it out in teas, salads, and other recipes. May Lemon Balm bless you with eternal joy!
-Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs (Gail Faith Edwards)
-Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide (Rosemary Gladstar)
-Materia Medica Monthly issue #11: Lemon Balm (Sajah Popham)
-Herbal Allies & Plant Profiles (a Plant Healer Compilation by Kiva Rose & Jesse “Wolf” Hardin
-Alchemy of Herbs (Rosalee de la Floret)