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Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Common name: Lemon Balm

Latin name: Melissa officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae

Lemon balm is a perennial with a strong lemony scent. It can grow up to 5 ft. tall and is part of the mint family. It has toothed leaves and in bloom will have tiny white flowers. Origionally from Europe parts of Asia and North Africa is is now loved by so many in the garden. The best time to harvest is just before the flowers open!

Lemon balm has flavonoids, triterpenes, polyphenols and tannins. It is a relaxant, antiseptic, antiviral and a nerve tonic. It can help to calm the nervous system during times as stress. It can also aid in better sleep and brain function. Lemon balm can help speed recover of cold source due to the high content of polyphenols. It has been used to relax the heart and the mind, help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression and irritability. It can help relax the heart during a panic attack, as well as soothe the digestive system. It can also calm an overactive thyroid and be used in first aid for cuts, stings and is great at reducing a fever.

The leaves are used fresh or dried. I dry my lemon balm but, throughout the summer I enjoy drinking fresh leaves as a relaxing tea. Even though the tea is hot, it is perfect even on hot summer days.

Essential oil can be mixed with olive oil and used on shingles. A strong tea/infusion can be taken for headaches often caused by nervousness. A tincture is often used for anxiety and mild depression. The dose of the tincture is typically 1/2 tsp. With water 3x/day. Ointments can be made and applied to stings.

Resources: Encyclopedia of herbal medicine by: Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

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