We have crested the halfway mark of the year and the balmy days of summer are truly here -perfect timing to talk about Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis). Did you see what I did there? Mom humor at its best.
Lemon Balm - Credit Kate Talbot RAc, RH
Lemon Balm, sweet, lemony, fast growing and beautiful, a wonderful addition to any sun tea and a lovely aid to ease you into sleep on those warm summer nights. As it swells over the shelf above my kitchen sink in the beautiful drapery of foliage that few herbs attain, I like to consider and learn about the past of this herb. Lemon balm has recorded historical uses dating back to 1551 (Gerard, 1633) known to comfort the heart, doeth away all the melancholy and sadness. Driving away troublesome cares and thoughts from the mind. And truly when you crush the crisp green leaf in your hand, deeply inhaling the lemony scent there is a feeling of hope and summer.
This deceptively humble herb also has even more profound traditional uses like a spasmolytic for upset stomachs and unfortunate flatulence– helpful for those big summer barbeques (Bone & Mills, 2013). And an easing and fast healing for those skinned knees of bike rides when combined with a couple other herbs and made into a cream (Buhner, 2013). Lastly for the emergence of those nagging summer colds, hot tea made with lemon balm will relax your body into sleep and support your immune system to have you back frolicking amount the clover before you know it (Hoffman, 2003).
Lemon Balm is easily cultivated in your garden, though remember it grows like peppermint so govern it accordingly. Planting it in a hollowed-out coffee can, or the like, is a simple and effective way to prevent runners – keeping it neat, tidy and manageable. To truly reap the most benefits from this garden treat, fresh lemon balm leaves can be used to make a hot infusion, sun tea or tincture.
Balm of skinned knees and sore skin
2 ounces of lemon balm leaf
2 ounces of birch bark
2 ounces of calendula flower
2 ounces of rosemary leaf
Combine the herbs in a crockpot with 32 ounces of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 days. Turn off heat and allow to cool completely to strain. Return to heat, bring to boil and reduce to simmer until reduced to approximately 2 ounces (mind yourself, as it burns quickly at this stage). Add 1 ounce of organic bees wax or until consistency. Pour into airtight jar.
Apply 3 to 5 times per day. This will promote healing, reduction in pain, usually within a couple days.
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Toronto: Churchill Livingstone.
Buhner, S. H. (2013). Herbal Antivirals - Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. North Adams: Storey Publishing.
Gerard, J. (1633). The Herbal or General History of Plants. New York: Dover Publications.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism - The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
Ross, J. (2010). A Clinical Materia Medica. Wald, Germany: Greenfields Press.