lemonbalm large Lemon balm

Lemon balm | Melissa officinalis

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include lemon balm, bee balm, melissa, hearts delight, sweet balm. cure all.

The given Latin name Melissa comes from the Greek word mélissa meaning 'bee' which in turn comes from meli meaning 'honey'.

Lemon balm is a perennial plant belonging to the mint (Labiatae) family. Originally a native of the Meditarranean but naturalised in many parts of the world including the Uk and The USA. The leaves have a rich lemony smell when stroked and are a good addition to sensory or herb gardens. Small white flowers form in whorls around the flower stalk in late spring or early summer.
Bees adore lemon balm flowers and in ancient times the leaves were rubbed around the entrance to hives to encourage the bees to set up home. Lemon balm was also planted near new or empty hives to encourage passing swarms to take up residence and ensure good honey production.


Organic lemon balm tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Fresh lemon balm leaves retain their volatile oils much more than dried so grow some in the garden if at all possible. A terracotta pot will do just as well (if you have no access to earth) or sprinkle a few seeds in your local park/green space for a continuous supply.

Lemon balm is very easy to grow in the garden in a suitable spot, not too wet, well drained and sunny if possible. If allowed to flower it self seeds easily.

Cut regularly (once a month or so) to encourage fresh new growth for future harvest and use. When the plant flowers, the leaves loose their fresh zingy taste and colour and tend to develop white grey patches on the leaves. Regular cropping will delay flowering until later in the summer and allows for a much longer season in which to harvest the vibrant fresh leaves.

Lay the leaves (or whole stalks with leaves still on) out on a tray or paper to dry, place in a warm place such as an airing cupboard and check regularly for spoilage. Store in a jar in a cool dark place. The herb does not retain its intense lemon smell when dried so use fresh if you want the essential oils to breeze through your nostrils.


Organic lemon balm tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Lemon balm has been in use as a medicine for centuries. Favoured by Paracelsus as an elixir of life, he prescribed it to Kings and royalty to keep them youthful, promote longevity and to ward off senility and impotence. Arabian medicine revered its  heavenly perfumed essential oil and monasteries grew it in their physic gardens to make potions and healing salves.
Lemon balm is a well known anti-depressant and has an effect on the limbic system in the brain (governs mood and temperament). It  improves the mood and lifts the spirits, 'cheers the heart' as they say in the old herbals and eases 'heaviness of mind' Lemon balm can also offer comfort and support to help those who are sad and grieving.
It is a gentle yet effective sedative. It has a calming action on the autonomic nervous system (the nerves controlling the automatic responses of organs such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, hormone release and the 'flight or fight' responses etc) making it suitable for cases of anxiety/stress induced insomnia, when taken as a relaxing bedtime drink, use at least 2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup for best effects. it is helpful for insomnia and agitation related to menopause and can ease restless legs at night. It soothes the nerves and can be helpful in ADHD and other hyperactivity conditions. It also eases heart palpitations of nervous origin. It is an all round relaxer and calmer, particularly useful when stress anxiety and tension arise regularly in your life.
It has a protective effect on the nerves and surrounding tissues after spinal cord injury as detailed  here.
The tea is gaining popularity as a nootropic remedy.
The tea also has a good anti-anxiety effect and has proved beneficial to improve restlessness in mild to moderate Alzheimers and dementia. It can also help improve the memory and cognitive function and can help relieve tension headaches and dizziness. it can be included in teas for bi-polar disorders.
One of lemon balms well documented action is that of digestive carminative. This means that it soothes and calms the digestive system and is well suited to improve colic and spasms, bloating and indigestion, flatulence, stomach cramps, nervous stomach and improve the appetite. Because of its sedative action on the brain and its soothing effect on the digestive system, it is a great herb for what could be called 'nervous stomach', where anxiety or stress cause unpleasant abdominal pains and IBS like symptoms.
Recent research has confirmed that lemon balm contains significant anti-viral properties and can improve immunity when used regularly. Herpes, both genital and cold sores, chronic fatigue, post viral fatigue & M.E, chicken pox, shingles, rubella, mumps, measles, colds & flu all benefit from lemon balm added in to herbal formulas. Make a strong ointment for cold sores and apply regularly.
Hot tea can help induce sweating and therefore gently soothe a fever. Its cooling nature can help in excess heat conditions such as heatstroke when taken as a tea.
Can help with hyperthyroid problems such as Graves disease by lowering levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in both the blood and the pituitary gland.
Lowers high blood sugar and high cholesterol and protects the liver from the effects of excess fats in the blood and lowers liver enzymes. a marker of liver stress.
Anti-histamine action is present in the leaves so can be used for allergies, allergic skin reactions etc.
Can be included in formulas for menstrual irregularities and painful periods.
Fresh leaves can be placed over bee stings, insect bites and other skin irritations. The essential oil or crushed fresh leaves also act as an insect repellant (all except honey bees it would appear) and rubbing the fresh leaves on he skin is said to discourage bees from stinging.
Lemon balm has been found to directly impact the limbic system of the brain, protecting the body from the excessive stimuli of the mind and its resulting effects of stress on the body such as adrenal burnout.
Stress induced eczema can also benefit from regular lemon balm.
Anti-cancer, tea has ability to inhibit cell division of cancerous cells and inhibits blood vessel growth to abnormal structures.as shown here. Cancers that have benefitted from lemon balm include colon, breast, lung, ovarian and prostate as detailed here.
Lemon balm tea can be taken regularly to protect against oxidative stress in the body from frequent radiation exposure.
An in depth look at lemon balm from the Herb Society of America is included here.




dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

Lemon balm is generally considered to be a very safe and gentle herb suitable for regular use and for use in children.

* Some sources state to avoid in cases of hypothyroidism due to its lowering of TSH. Many herbalists however observe that it has more of a balancing effect on thyroid hormones. To muddy the water further, some suggest to avoid in all cases of thyroid imbalance. Use caution and common sense if using for any thyroid disorder and start slowly and gently, noting any changes. Discontinue immediately if symptoms worsen.

* Use with caution if taking prescribed medicines such as sedatives, barbiturates, thyroid treatments, SSRI's, glaucoma medicines.

* May increase intraocular pressure so be careful of usage and dose if you have glaucoma.



Tincture: 0.25ml , half a teaspoon in water up to 3 times daily

Dried leaf in tea form:  1 teaspoon of leaves per cup, up to 3 times daily. For insomnia, up to 3 teaspoons of dried herb in a cup an hour or so before bed to induce sleep.

Fresh herb in tea form: use a teaspoon of chopped freah herb per cup, up to 3 times daily.





Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.






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