Lemon Balm or Melissa Officinalis
I have always had a passionate interest in herbs and many years ago studied and completed my Certificate of Herbal Medicine with the S.A. College of Natural Medicine. My passion extends to going the natural route when treating any ailments, and I have had wonderful results with herbs and spices. Needless to say, my collection of herbs in the SoulsTruth garden is growing nicely, (as well as the powerful weed herbs, which we are so quick to pull out and get rid of).
One of my favourite herbs is Lemon Balm, or Melissa Officinalis, and when visiting SoulsTruth, you can have the opportunity to sup a cup of lemon balm tea and honey while sitting in the garden. One of the wonderful healing properties of lemon balm is that of calming. My daughter who has had problems with getting to sleep, says that it is amazing and a friend of mine has just recently followed up with the same comment. It seems to take the edge off and bring you into a calm and peaceful state.
Other properties include the following:
- Calms the mind
- Encourages restful sleep
- Makes your skin look years younger
- Boosts alertness
- Sharpens memory and problem solving
- Powerful anti-oxidant
- Supports the liver
- Supports normal blood sugar
- Protects brain cells
- Soothes the nerves
- Good for coughs and colds
- Good for depression, anxiety and stress
History of Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is native to the Mediterranean region, and has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. The genus name of Melissa, is derived from the Greek word for bee. The ancient Greek author Pliny the Elder and John Gerard a 16th-century both observed that lemon balm is useful in attracting and keeping bees. Officinalis refers to its place in the official apothecary. The common name ‘‘balm’’ is shortened from balsam.
Throughout history, ancients were well aware of the plant’s healing and restorative powers. Ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist Dioscorides used the leaves steeped in wine to treat snakebites and scorpion stings. In her book A Modern Herbal, Maud Grieve wrote in 1931 “It is now recognized as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of aromatic plants make excellent surgical dressings: they give off ozone and thus exercise anti-putrescent effects. Being chemical hydrocarbons, they contain so little oxygen that in wounds dressed with the fixed balsamic herbal oils, the atomic germs of disease are starved out, and the resinous parts of these balsamic oils, as they dry upon the sore or wound, seal it up and effectually exclude all noxious air.”
Lemon balm’s history, popularity and use continued through the years. So widespread was lemon balm’s reputation for promoting longevity and dispelling melancholy that by the 17th century, French Carmelite nuns were dispensing their Carmelite Water to a faithful following. The lemon-balm infused “miracle water” was thought to improve memory and vision and reduce rheumatic pain, fever, melancholy and congestion.
Lemon balm was brought to Great Britain by the Romans. Today, lemon balm is now found in both England and North America. It was brought by colonialists who had come to rely on it for teas and flavouring. Thomas Jefferson’s gardens were filled with lemon balm. By this point it was a well known herb important to culinary and herbal medicinal usage.
Planting lemon balm
Lemon balm likes to be planted in full sun but will tolerate shade. It can be planted in containers. Cut the bush back when it looks scruffy and it will spring back into life again. It can grow in any soil. It is a good companion plant for cabbage groups of vegetables.
I have lemon balm plants for sale, as well as dried lemon balm tea, which you can purchase when you visit SoulsTruth.