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The Healing Properties of Lemon Balm

Apr 18, 2008
Lemon balm's history dates back over 2,000 years. The scientific name of this herb "Melissa officinalis" reveals much of its history. It is thought that bees and lemon balm have been inextricably linked since ancient times. The scientific name Melissa is derived from the Greek term for "honey bee." Moreover, many herbalists agree that lemon balm has much of the same healing and tonic properties that royal jelly and honey have. Lemon balm has traditionally been honored as an herb with the facility to lend rejuvenation. During the Middle Ages, lemon balm was a key ingredient in all medieval elixirs of youth. Even as late as the 18th century, lemon balm continued to maintain its reputation as an "elixir of youth."

Herbalists describe the taste of lemon balm as sour, dry, cold, and slightly bitter. Lemon balm is known to contain volatile oils (including citronellal), polyphenols, bitter principle, tannins, rosmarinic acid, and flavonoids. The actions of the plant have alternately been described as sedative, anti-depressant, a relaxant and restorer, a digestive stimulant, antibacterial and antispasmodic. Lemon balm is also known for its ability to promote sweating, relax the peripheral blood vessels, and for its antiviral properties.

The leaves of the lemon balm plant are believed to help relieve the symptoms of depression and tension. The leaves are known as carminative, so are thought of as ideal for those individuals who are affected by digestive upsets when they become anxious or worried.

Because of its cooling properties, lemon balm is also good for people who may suffer from feverish colds. Lemon balm cream can be used to treat cold sores and other conditions related to herpes simplex.

The best time to harvest lemon balm is just before flowering. In the summer, the leaves of the lemon balm plant can make a delightfully cooling and refreshing tea.

The essential oil of the lemon balm plant is also popular with herbalists. The concentrated oils from the lemon balm leaves are much more potent than the leaves themselves. Just a few drops of lemon balm essential oil can affect an individual.

A few drops of lemon balm essential oil are recommended as an antidote for depression. The potency of lemon balm essential oil is thought to be able to "shock" the depressed patient out of their state.

Other popular methods for consuming lemon balm in herbal remedies include as an infusion for hot tea and ice cream flavoring. Hot lemon balm tea is used to treat nausea, indigestion, and nervous exhaustion.

A lemon balm compress can be applied to any area of suffering from painful swellings, or conditions such as gout. Lemon balm can also be used to create a soothing massage oil. Simply dilute 5-10 drops of essential oil by combining with either almond oil or olive oil, and then rub to relieve chest complaints or other areas of tension.

Lemon balm should not be taken by anyone on thyroid medication as the herb may inhibit the absorption of the medicine.

Lemon balm has wonderful healing properties and can be used internally or externally to treat almost anything that ails you.
About the Author
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Herbal Remedies.
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