All About Lemon Balm

Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis is a perennial herb originated in Southern Europe. The uses of Lemon Balm are not limited to medicinal; it also has been widely used in culinary, cosmetic, aromatherapy and etc.
 

 

What is Lemon Balm?

All about lemon balm

Lemon balm is a perennial herb originated in Southern Europe. It can be categorized under the Lamiacease (mint) family. Lemon balm has a fascinating botanical name Melissa officinalis.

  • Melissa in Greek means “honey bee”.
  • The specific epithet,  Officinalis  is a Medievel Latin word means “used in medicine”.

Its name “Melissa officinalis”  probably deriving from its traditional use by bee keepers to attract bees and its high medicinal qualities.

Lemon balm exudes a very refreshing lemon fragrance when we bruise or crush its leave.  For centuries, the bee keepers have planted lemon balm near the bee hives. Its strong lemon fragrance is believed to attract and to settle the honey bee swarms.  That is why in few regions, lemon balm has been  known as bee balm. (Note: Monarda has also been called as bee balm.  But, Monarda and lemon balm are two varieties of herbal plants.)

Over 2000 years, lemon balm has been use for various medical purposes. Evidence of early historic records showed that the ancient Greece and Rome medical authorities, early writers and herbal experts around the world had given a well recognition of lemon balm magical property. Lemon balm is also related to “honey-leaf’ as mentioned by Theophrastus, Greek botanist medical authorities, philosopher and pupil of Aristotle.

Besides Melissa officinalis, bee balm and honey-leaf, lemon balm also related to the common name such as horsemint, garden balm, balm gentle, English Balm, common balm, sweet balm,  balm mint and sweet Melissa.

Lemon Balm Appearance and Descriptions

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  •   Lemon balm can grow to a height ranging from 70cm to 150cm (2 feet to 5 feet).
  • Its deeply wrinkled leaves are about 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inch) long.
  • The shape of lemon balm leaves is similar with mint leaves (oval to heart shaped). However, the shape could be different depend on its plant location.
  • The lemon scented leaves are dark green or sometimes yellow green in color.
  • Lemon balm grows relatively small two-lipped flowers. It is white, light blue or pale pink in color.

Lemon balm can easily grow and maintain. It is a versatile herb and it can tolerate with severe weather conditions. Lemon balm is also no vulnerable to insects/mites predation and plant diseases. It is a wise choice for botanical beginner s to kick off with.

Lemon Balm Magical Properties and Uses

Lemon balm is the International Herb Association’s 2007 Herb of the Year. The uses of Lemon Balm are not limited to medicinal; it also has been widely used in culinary, cosmetic, aromatherapy and etc. Let‘s get to know what this precious gift from our mother nature has to offer!

Medicinal Uses

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  • Lemon balm has been used as one of the important ingredients to treat Insomnia. It has the ability to promote sleep.
  • Lemon balm is a calming herb. It helps to reduce anxiety, improve relaxation, increase alertness and overcome stress problems.
  • Lemon balm cream can effectively cures cold sores caused by the herpes virus (HSV).
  • Traditionally, lemon balm has been used as a folk remedy to dress wounds, to treat snake, animal or insect bites.  It has also been said to be able to ease high blood pressure, headaches, toothache, earache, fever, influenza, menstrual cramps and vomiting
  • The evidences of the studies show that lemon balm improves the memory and improve demented states including Alzheimer’s disease. Lemon balm is effectively uses to treat Thyroid and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Lemon balm helps to improve digestion, loss of appetite and stomach discomfort.

Culinary Uses

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  • Lemon balm with the mixture with other herbs like spearmint has been used as flavoring for ice cream.
  • Lemon balm leaves are usually dried to make refreshing lemon balm tea.
  • Lemon balm has been used to flavor various kinds of cooking, appetizers and desserts.

Cosmetic Uses

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  • The lemon balm has very high capability to cleanse the skin. Lemon balm essential oil is commonly uses in homemade and commercial cosmetics manufacturing.
  • Herbal baths which contain lemon balm leaves can help to reduce stress, to soothe the skin and to improve skin complexion.
  • Research has shown that by adding lemon balm to steam bath makes it an effectives traditional acne remedies.

Aromatic Uses

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  • Lemon balm has been used as air freshener. When we spray the water containing lemon balm essential oil, it will be able to eliminate odor in the air.
  • Lemon balm is a natural and powerful insect repellent.  Citronellal contents inside Lemon balm will help to chase away insects such as flies, mosquitos, ants and etc.

Other Uses

  • Lemon balm has been used as a wood furniture polish. Lemon balm is able to clean and shine the wood materials.
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