Lemon Balm 

Botanical name

Melissa officinalis  

Common Names

Balm, baum, lemon balm, melissa.

FAMILY

Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Description

Balm is a native of France, but naturalised in England and the United States. It grows in fields, along road-sides, and is well known as a garden plant, flowering from May to August. The whole plant is used and should be collected prior to flowering. In a fresh state it has a lemon-like odour, which is nearly lost by drying. Its taste is aromatic, faintly astringent, with a degree of persistent bitterness. Boiling water extracts its virtues.

Part supplied

The chopped leaf.

Food Use

Lemon balm makes a delicious, delicate lemon tea either on its own or combined with green tea to add a lemon flavour that is less acidic than lemon juice. It can also be used to flavour sorbets, panna cotta, ice cream and cordials.

Try our lovely Lavender and Lemon Iced Tea recipe.

Recipes

Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb to one cup of boiling water to make a tasty tea. Infuse for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or lemon to taste.

Alternatively add half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of tincture to a cup of warm water for a quick alternative to tea.

The herb can be added as a flavouring to gin, vodka and other infusions.

Medicinal Use

When used as a medicine, melissa is a nerve tonic, anti-viral and antidepressant with clinical evidence that it improves mood and cognitive function. It also reduces sensitivity to pain (Hasanein & Riahi, 2014).

A specific for cold sores, shingles and stress. It has been proven in clinical trials to be highly active against the entire herpes simplex family (which includes both cold sores, shingles and genital herpes) and can be taken either as a tea or a tincture to reduce outbreaks and reoccurence. It can also be added to creams and ointments for topical treatment. (Astani, Navid & Schnitzler, 2014)

It is moderately stimulant, diaphoretic, and antispasmodic but gentle enough for children and the elderly.

Herbalists also use lemon balm to treat Graves disease (a form of hyperthyroidism) as lemon balm reduces the binding action of thyroid stimulating hormone in the body. (Santini et al, 2003)

A warm infusion, drank freely, helps to produce sweating, or as a diaphoretic in fevers. It is also very useful in painful menstruation, and also to assist during periods in women. When given in fevers, it may be rendered more agreeable by the addition of lemon juice. The infusion may be taken at pleasure. 

Balm contains a bitter extractive substance, a little tannin, gum, and a peculiar volatile oil. A pound of the plant yields about four grains of the oil, which is of a yellowish or reddish-yellow color, very liquid, and possessing the fragrance of the plant in a high degree.

Key actions: Mild sedative, carminative, spasmolytic, diaphoretic, antagonist, thyroid stimulating hormone, antiviral (when applied topically). 

In clinic: Herbalists use this herb to treat depression, painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), flatulent dyspepsia (indigestion) and fever. 

If you are interested in the medicinal use of this herb please consult a herbalist. Herbs are generally used at medicinal strength, in blends, prescribed for each unique patient's condition.

Directions

Infusion: 1 teaspoon of herb (2 to 4 g) to a cup of cold water. Pour boiling water over the herb and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.

Tincture: Take 2 to 6 ml (1:5 tincture), 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Fluid extract: 1:1 Take 2 to 4 ml, 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Dried Herb: Maximum of 12 g per day may be taken as a powder or capsules.

Other Uses

Cosmetic Use

None known.

Other Uses

None known.

Cautions

Contraindications

This herb is considered safe in food amounts. Do not take if you are allergic to this plant or other members of this plant's family (Lamiaceae). Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children. If in doubt, please ask us or your medical herbalist.

Excessive consumption of lemon balm should be avoided by those people with an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), such as those taking levothyroxine, if they do not have enough iodine in their diet to produce healthy levels of TSH - such as those not regularly consuming seaweed or ocean fish.

In one clinical study it was thought that Melissa officinalis may block the binding of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid receptor by acting both on the hormone and the receptor itself (Santini et al, 2003) thus lowering the amount of TSH available to the thyroid.

Side effects

May interact with thyroid hormones. 

A small amount of allergic reactions have been reported during tests when applied topically. Plant extracts cause few side effects when taken correctly but if a side effect is experienced please contact us.

Interactions with drugs

Herbal remedies and supplements can interact with medicines. If you are taking medication please check with your medical practitioner, or call us, before taking herbs, supplements and medication together.

Lemon balm from Monica's garden

Historical etching

Add to BagMelissa officinalis - Lemon balm leaf 100g £10.75
Add to BagMelissa officinalis - Lemon balm leaf 1kg £71.50
Add to BagMelissa officinalis - Lemon balm leaf 100ml £8.00
Add to BagMelissa officinalis - Lemon balm leaf 500ml £25.50
Add to BagMelissa officinalis - Lemon balm leaf 1L £42.25

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