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Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)

By Tatiana Lustre Dawn (Twiggy)
from Alchemilla Herbals

Lemon Balm has a special place in my garden and in my heart. Energetically she is soothing and cooling yet has a certain warmth about her in a calming way. Due to her cooling and soothing effect this herb is wonderful for times of irritability, anger and tension.

Lemon Balm can gently calm the nerves and can help to strengthen and rebuild a burnt out nervous system, due to the nervine action. She is known to be helpful in alleviating the effects of anxiety due to the anxiolytic action. Lemon Balm can also calm the digestive system in times of cramping and spasm from gas or other factors, due to the carminative and anti-spasmodic action. Sometimes I think that this plant should be called Lemon Calm instead of balm, though balm is still appropriate as she can be like a balm for the heart, mind and soul. This herb should be growing in every garden and is a pleasure to brush past so plant it on the borders. Even just sitting in her presence can be so uplifting and relaxing.

This is not the first herb that I would turn to for an internal anti-viral but she has an unrivalled topical anti-viral action upon the herpes simplex virus (cold sores). Take this beautiful herb if you are feeling stressed, scattered, strung out and experiencing a racing mind or cluttered thoughts and having difficult focusing.  Lemon Balm is also traditionally used for insomnia, to improve cognitive function and also for the antioxidant properties.

When I make Lemon Balm tincture, I harvest the herb in the early morning once the dew has dried but before she is in direct sunlight. I harvest the top third of the stems which is where the volatile content is the highest. I also find that the darker leaves hold more of the volatile oils which is where much of her potency lies. I make sure to do this process promptly and get her steeping in the Australian organic 70% brandy within an hour of harvesting because many of Lemon Balm’s medicinal properties degrade remarkably quickly, so this must be captured whilst the power is still active in the plant. Making an infusion from the fresh plant can be much quicker yet still effective way to bring Lemon Balm into your daily life.  Just be sure to have a lid on your pot so as not to lose those delicious volatile oils.

Lemon Balm has no known side effects or proven contraindications and is regarded as safe to use with children. Though of course always check with your qualified health practitioner to ensure that this beautiful herb does not have any known interactions with prescribed medication. Her delicious and lemony fragrance is a winner with the children and a wonderful way for them to wind down after a big day at learn and play!

This information is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consider having a consultation with a naturopath or herbalist to see if this herb is right for you.

Please get in touch if you would like more details on growing, harvesting and making herbal preparations from this beautiful calming, cooling, soothing and motherly plant.

More about the author

Tatiana Lustre Dawn (Twiggy)
– Alchemilla Herbals

Tatiana Lustre Dawn is a herbalist based in Far North QLD.  She runs a small permaculture farm and nursery and operates a business called Alchemilla Herbals, teaching people to grow, harvest/forage and manufacture herbal preparations. Tatiana is also an accredited Reiki, Lomi Lomi and Attunement Therapy practitioner.