Medicinal Herb Profile: Lemon Balm

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Latin Name: Melissa officinalis

Parts Used: Leaf and flower

Key Constituents: Citral, citronellal, tannins, bitters, polyphenols, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, catechin, resins, flavonoids

Medicinal Uses: Lemon balm is a gentle sedative and calming yet uplifting herb. Research has shown that it's volatile oils calm the nervous and digestive systems. It is a nervine which is useful for treating nervousness or over-excitement in adults and children. It relieves agitation and helps the body relax. Lemon balm is a mild antiviral and antimicrobial and can be taken to help sweat out a fever or shorten the duration of a common cold. Lemon balm is edible and is a good source of vitamin C. Lemon balm is aromatic and pleasant tasting, while also having bitter properties and being antispasmodic and useful for stomach upset. Lemon balm tea or tincture can be applied externally for treatment of herpes.

Safety: Safe for general use. Lemon balm is considered to be a thyroid inhibitor so it is not advised for people with hypothyroidism.

How to use:

  • Dry: Lay leaves in a single layer out of direct light. Leaves will retain their fragrance when dry and can be stored in an airtight container.

  • Culinary: Add to soups, salads, baking projects, smoothies, pestos or cocktails for it's refreshing, lemony flavor. Here are some ideas.

  • Other: Lemon balm makes a tasty and soothing tea. Chop the fresh or dried leaves, pour boiling water over them, and allow to steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. Lemon balm leaves can be added to a relaxing bath before bed. It can be infused into honey and used as a cold or flu treatment. Find some more ideas here!

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