Lemon Balm  - Melissa Officinalis
Info compiled by Donna Tecce
Lemon Balm Greater Plantain (Plantago major)  
Wikipedia   Wikipedia

Latin Name: Melissa Officinalis

Common Names:

Family: Plantaginaceae

Parts Used: Leaves or flowers

Habitat: Native to southern Europe, it is now found throughout the world.

Collection: For a dried product, harvest at least twice a season just as the plant comes into bloom. Lemon balm can be harvested for fresh sales once or twice a week. Frequent trimming encourages branching and will result in a bushy compact plant. An acre may produce 1000 pounds or more of dried herb. Perennial grows to ht of 2-1/2 feet. Soft green leaves are broad and spade shaped with scalloped edge. Heavily square branch, veined with whitish flowers from mid summer. Lemon balm will not be as fragrant dried as is fresh.

Uses: Soothing and calming for the nerves, relaxes spasms while improving digestion. Relieves gas and bloating. Dried or fresh tea for fevers and painful menstruation, headaches, colds, insomnia. Mild sedative, carminative; leaves can be poulticed for sores, tumors and insect bites. There has been experiments done with hot water extracts for herpes, mumps and Newcastle disease. Strong extracts (200:1) in ointments in Europe to treat cold sores and genital herpes.

Lemon Balm extract slows the breakdown of acetylcholine, a messenger compound deficient in brain cell cultures of Alzheimer’s disease patients, showing improved memory and lengthened attention span. It contains at least 8 antiviral compounds (against herpes), 8 sedative compounds and 12 anti-inflammatory components.

With its lemon scent is valued as a culinary, cosmetic and medicinal plant. Teas, pot-pourris, oil in perfumes, fresh sprigs in drinks, garnishes on salads and main dishes. It has been said, you could use the leaves to “polish” your woodwork. (lemon pledge)

It may also help to block some of the secretion of the thyroid gland and its ability to release hormones in the body. Consequently, it has been implemented for use in connection with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder where individuals suffer from overactive thyroid function (excessive thyroid hormone )or “hyperthyroid disease”.

Actions: Nervine herb, digestive, soothing affect by reducing spasms. Antibacterial, antihistamine, antispasmodic, antiviral and antioxidant activity.

Details: Native to southern Europe, it is now found throughout the world. As far back as the ancient Greeks this plant was recognized for it soothing smell and medicinal properties. Was used, according to Greek physician, Dioscorides, for scorpion or animal bites, due to it’s antibacterial properties, “ then give the patient wine infused with Lemon Balm to calm their nerves”. British herbalist, Culpeper, said in the mid 17th century: “Lemon Balm causeth the mind and heart to be Merry…and driveth away all troublesome cares.” It was popular in Mediterranean and English gardens. Lemon balm draws bees more than any other plant.

Constituents - Active Ingredients: Bitters, tannins, polyphenols, volatile oils-citronellal and citrals A and B, eugenol acetate and geraniol. Caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid.

Preparation and Dosage:

Tea; 1.5 to 4.5g several times daily; 2-3ml tincture 3 X daily. For cold sores/herpes steep 2-4 tsp of crushed leaf in 1 cup boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Apply with cotton balls to the sores throughout the day. Add a bit of honey to the tea, they were made for each other.

Melissa officinalis, “Melissa” being a Latin derivation of the Greek word for honey bee (“officinalis”).

Taste: Fresh, citrusy, lemony and soothing.


Flower Essence:





Contraindications: It is to be avoided by those individuals that suffer from an “under-active” thyroid function (hypo-thyroid) due to its stimulating effects on the thyroid. (As stated above). Drug interactions: Do not combine lemon balm with any other sedatives, as it may increase the effects of those drugs.


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