LEMON BALM : The overlooked SUPER plant
By Robin Triskele
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial plant and member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family. It is partly identifiable by its square stems. The leaves are a heart shape and they have rounded toothed margins. The plant flowers in the summer into the fall and produces small white flowers. Lemon Balm has a fragrant lemony zing to it, Simply crushing a Lemon Balm leaf will release a powerful, stimulating scent.
Attract Bees To Your Garden With This Plant
Melissa, comes from the Latin words melisso phyllum, which translate to ‘honey bee’ and it is long known to be a favorite ally to the bees! Bees love the scent and feed on the tiny white flowers of the budding plants. It is known that keeping Lemon Balm in your garden and/or rubbing the leaves volatile oils inside their hives will attract the bees close to home, truly Nature’s little helpers. More bees means more pollination… more pollination means more plants for the bees… and this is essential to the future of our planets vitality.
Versatility In Food And Drink
Lemon Balm is so versatile in food and drink. Not only is it a fantastic addition to sweet dishes like fruit salad, sorbet and ice cream; you can use it in Lemonades, spritzers and herb tea. It is also a great stuffing for meat and poultry, or used in a pesto, sauce or flavouring in lighter meat dishes such as chicken and fish. With its wonderful, refreshing, Lemony hint , I use it widely. In herbal tea, drinks, soups, pesto, desserts and smoothies, and especially nice in Pimms and to sass up a Gin & Tonic!
The list of medicinal properties and uses for this herb are exceptional.
The chemical makeup of Lemon Balm is complex and multi-faceted. It has antiviral, antioxidant and calmative properties. It contains vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, volatile oils (citral, linalol, eugenol, citronellal, geraniol). A few of the other main constituents of Lemon Balm and their associated healing properties are listed below:
Terpenes : relaxing and antiviral properties
Tannins : responsible for the antiviral effects
Eugenoll : for calming muscle spasms, numbing tissues,and killing bacteria.
Lemon Balm has no known side effects, and it can be safely used by almost anyone. The one potential exception is anyone who suffers from an underactive thyroid. Using Lemon Balm for more than a few days at a time can possibly worsen the condition. Rich in both flavinoids & antioxidants, Lemon Balm is such a versatile herb.
Here are but a few of the medicinal uses :
Relieves anxiety & nervous agitation, tenseness, restlessness, irritability and problems sleeping. Aides in relaxing muscles, particularly in the bladder, stomach, and uterus.
Helps in easing menstrual cramps/PMS and urinary spasms.
Helps to bring on sweats, reduce fevers and reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Mimics antibacterial healing properties very close to that of honey.
Lemon Balm has antiviral action, combating any of the Herpes Viruses (herpes, fever blisters, cold sores, shingles, chicken pox) and it is the active ingredient in the herpes treatment Herpalieve
Herbal Tea suggestions:
To decompress after a tough day, for extra benefit, mix with Chamomile and Valerian
For a cough you cant shift and to relieve cold and flu symptoms ? Mix with Yarrow and honey. SO as you can see, Lemon Balm is an all around great herb to have about the garden, it is east to root and grows as all mints do, quite briskly. Its a hardy plant and thrives well in most conditions.
A must have for even the most novice of herb lovers and plant enthusiasts.
Robin Triskele is a steadfast forager, a self trained chef and is devoted to good food, good life, and living simply. She now lives on a farm in rural Buckinghamshire and hosts WILD FOOD / HERB walks and courses.
She has a deep, sacred relationship to the Goddess and Mother Earth. Robin has started her online presence as ‘The Culinary Sage’. It is a collection of musings about her green thumb geekery, foraging, herbs and homemade medicine. Here she shares some of her recipes, herbal advices and exchanges knowledge with friends globally.
Robin has her degree in Biology and is now further studying to be an Herbalist. Her studies included nutritional counselling, plant biology and psychology. Whilst spending 15 years in the medical field as a Dental Hygienist, she participated in community projects and taught school children nutrition and the positive benefits of a healthy diet. Not just locally but on her many travels she has been gathering practical knowledge and is embarking on a new path, which has led her to the desire to teach and share her knowledge and passion for nutrition through plants.
Do you use Lemon Balm? If so, what is your favorite use for it? Please share in the comments!
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