Getting to know Lemon Balm: properties, benefits, and more!
On a trip to the local farmer’s market, a human came upon a humble display of potted herbs. There was no vendor. The human could have sworn they heard a light chuckling coming from the stand. Someone –something? – drew me here, thought the human.
History of Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm: Hello! Welcome, little human!
human: Wait a minute – was that you speaking down there, Basil? You’re tiny!
Lemon Balm: I’m actually Lemon Balm! I’m not as popular as my older siblings, Basil and Spearmint, but I guarantee I have similar benefits and properties. Maybe you’ll end up liking me even more if I play my cards right!
Benefits of Lemon Balm
human: Hmm… interesting. Do you soothe stomachaches?
Lemon Balm: Check!
human: Reduce flatulence and aid digestion?
Lemon Balm: Affirmative!
human: All right, those are all the benefits I know. What differentiates you from the rest of your family?
Lemon Balm: For one, we support cognition and help with focus. You’ll know just what I mean when you see how soothing we are in teas, creams, and culinary dishes. And when you harvest us, you’ll be left with a pleasant lemon smell on your fingertips!
human: Cool! So, that means I can incorporate Lemon Balm into my cooking as a simple way of integrating herbalism into my daily life?
Uses of Lemon Balm
human: Did you say sleep? I sure could use help in the relaxation department.
Lemon Balm: I’d say most humans could, my friend! While Lemon Balm certainly is not sedating, we are well-loved for our ability to lift the spirits and calm the nerves. So, folks often turn to my kind to ease muscle strains and symptoms of daily anxiety and stress. We are a nervine after all! So don’t wait until bedtime for a cup of Lemon Balm tea. Sip it all day, hot or iced!
human: I’d love to keep you close by. Can I easily grow you in my own garden?
Lemon Balm: Absolutely, I’d be honored! We are native to Southern Europe and many regions of Asia. We’ve come so far and have found many homes all across the world. And luckily, we’re a no-fuss garden companion. We’ll thrive quite easily!
human: Amazing. Let me find the vendor. I’d love to bring you home!
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) Mini-Monograph
Scientific name: Melissa Officinalis
Common folk names: Lemon Balm, Melissa, Common Balm, Bee Balm, Cure-all
Habitat: Native to South Europe, the Mediterranean region, Western and Central Asia, Lemon Balm has naturalized in many other temperate climates across the globe.
Herbal actions: Calming nervine (relieves stress, headaches and aids sleep), tonic nervine (supports healthy nervous system function), carminative + antispasmodic (releases gas / cramping to aid digestion), anti-viral, anti-depressant
Common contraindications: None known
Harvesting notes: Pluck leaves as you would with mint or basil or clip the stalks for sprins of Lemon Balm. It’s best to harvest when flowering (when the plant’s volatile oils are greatest in concentration). Harvest at flowering through the summer for continued growth.
Fun fact: Lemon Balm was used historically to treat skin diseases and wounds by placing its leaves on the wound site.
 Jill Henderson, How to Grow, Harvest and Use Lemon Balm, Retrieved from https://www.ecofarmingdaily.com/grow-crops/grow-fruits-vegetables/fruit-and-vegetable-crops/growing-using-lemon-balm/
 Richard Whelan (2011), Lemon Balm, Retrieved from https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/lemonbalm.html
 The Naturopathic Herbalist (2015, Sept 13), Melissa Officinalis, Retrieved from https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/2015/09/13/melissa-officinalis/
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