Melissa officinalis, known as lemon balm, common balm, balm or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant of the mint family Lamiaceae. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. Due to this, lemon balm attracts bees. As such, the genus name Melissa or melissophyllon derives from Greek word ‘honey bee’ or ‘the leaf of bee’. In the Middle Ages people used lemon balm to make youth elixirs. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent (related to mint), which comes from citronellal, geranial, linalyl acetate and caryophyllene (ingredients which have relaxing properties).
- Culinary use.
Lemon balm is often used as flavoring in ice creams and herbal teas, both hot and iced. It is a beneficial addition to wine and juices. It is also combined with fruit dishes or candies. Furthermore, it can be used in fish dishes and is the key ingredient for lemon balm pesto.
- Pharmaceutical use.
It calms the nerves system and relaxes the body.
External use refreshes the body.
Ointment from its leaves and flowers soothes the pains of rheumatism and arthritis and heals external wounds.
(Boil 2-4 tablespoons lemon balm, dip into cotton and dab the affected area. You can apply it several times a day.)
- It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. It is ideal for infections, allergies, irritations and insect bites.
- It helps in better heart function calming its intense pulses.
- It fights against colds and viruses. In fact, scientists from the University of Maryland found that it is ideal for herpes labialis.
- Extremely effective in cases of insomnia and stress, while simultaneously, it helps people with depression, due to its soothing and relaxing properties.
- Lemon balm works as a digestive.
- It is considered that it calms overactive thyroid gland (Graves' disease).
- It increases perception and enhances memory. It is not stretching a point to say, it is believed that it helps patients with Alzheimer's disease. A recent survey with students showed that balm’s consumption reduces stress during tests, making students to have a better concentration.
- o It is recommended for headaches, migraines, menstrual pains, toothaches, intestinal colic.
- o It is ideal for diet.
Lemon balm is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.
In general, it is considered safe; however, it is likely to interact with drugs taken for thyroid.