Lemon balm is one of those lovely herbs which grow like a weed, smells delicious and yet, is rather under-utilized. Herbs love being appreciated, and I would like to tell you how it can be used so that you can enjoy it, and praise the plant for its gifts.
Essentially, Melissa calms the nervous system, relaxes spasms especially of the gut, and disables viruses. Simply brushing your hand through the soft leaves emits a beautifully refreshing and calming fragrance, but to treat anxiety, it can also be made into a lovely herbal tea. (See the recipe below). I remember making this infusion for someone who arrived at my house in an absolute state. 20 minutes after drinking the tea, she was fast asleep in the chair.
Recently a paper was published suggesting that Melissa (as well as Ginseng and Gingko) may be used to help people with Alzheimer’s because it improves blood flow to the brain, enhances free radical scavenging and reduces inflammation, amongst other actions.(1)
Lemon balm’s anti-viral actions are also being recognised in scientific studies where the plant was tested against Acyclovir resistant Herpes virus(2). Melissa inhibited the penetration of the Herpes virus into the cells, and it is interesting to note that the results indicate that it was the rosmarinic acid found within the Melissa volatile oils which mainly contributed to the antiviral activity of the Melissa extract. With this information, I would suggest that Melissa and Rosemary together might be more effective at inhibiting herpes than Melissa alone.
Other studies comment on the effectiveness of combining Melissa with Catmint to reduce stomach and intestinal spasms such as IBS, whilst another found that lemon balm with chamomile and fennel was very helpful for colicky babies.(3) The scientists recorded a drop in crying time from an average of 201.2 min/day to 76.9 min/day at the end of the study – what a relief that must have been for baby and parents. I can attest to the effectiveness of this, as I have seen babies stop screaming with colicky pain instantly after taking our herbal glycerines.
(2)^ Attachment and penetration of acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus are inhibited by Melissa officinalis extract. Astani A1, Navid MH, Schnitzler P. Phytother Res.2014 Oct;28(10):1547-52. dx.doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5166
(3)^ A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breastfed colicky infants. Savino F, Cresi F, Castagno E, Silvestro L, Oggero R. Phytother Res. 2005 Apr;19(4):335-40 dx.doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1668
Make your own Calming tea
Pick a 6 inch sprig of Lemon balm (Melissa)
Bees love Melissa, so why not add a little honey
A thin slice of lemon
Drop into a cup of boiling water and take the time to savour the infusion.
In June, you might like to add some fragrant rose petals, a head of lavender or a few wild raspberries.
This tea will cleanse and refresh you, and leave you feeling calm and joyful.