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Herb of the week: Lemon balm.

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Botanical name: 

Photo: Melissa officinalis 09. A short-short profile:

Latin: Melissa officinalis.
Family: mint family, Lamiaceae.
Parts used: Aboveground parts.
Taste: Sweet, lemony.
4 humors: Coolish, dry.


  • moodlifting
  • removes tension
  • helps the digestion
  • reduces gut and menstrual cramps
  • helps memory
  • excellent against all kinds of herpes viruses


  • It's best picked in high summer, on a very hot afternoon. It'll work if picked at other times in summer, but won't be as good.
  • It'll lose its scent in about half a year, dried. If you picked your own, that won't matter ... it'll still work. Storebought, ho hum, HOW long has that been on various shelves?
  • (the essential oil is not the herb.)
  • Try lemon catnip (Nepeta cataria 'Citriodora') and Moldavian balm (Dracocephalum moldavica) if you're all out of lemon balm. (Does it show that I do try to grow most of my own herbs?)
  • A lemon balm tincture needs to macerate for all of 8 hours. Unless you're in a hurry, in which case, 4 hours will do.


  • Give it a shot for the insomnia coupled with stress. (Now why didn't I think of that, last night?)
  • Fidgety kids, especially before Important Events (like Christmas, birthday parties, or dear friends coming over), calm right down with lemon balm.
  • Mild gut upsets, mild menstrual cramps.
  • A memory enhancer. That means that it's great for students, the elderly, and everybody else as well.
  • It's rather drying, so add some mallow to your tea if you're a dry person yourself.
  • Mmm. Lemon balm bath. If there's no bath tub, give a lemon balm foot bath a try.
  • Eau de mélisse (Melissengeist) (or eau des Carmes (Karmelitergeist)) is a French distilled lemon balm brandy, natch. You can try something similar as a tincture: make a lemon balm tincture, strain, and add a handful of various spices (coriander seed, angelica root, lemon, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon). Let sit for a week, strain.

Comments on Facebook:

  • Dawn:
    My lemon balm is doing so well with the cooler weather. getting ready to harvest some this week to have for tea throughout the winter.
    25 October 2012 at 17:39
  • Robin McG.
    Dawn, make tincture and glycerite, too!
    26 October 2012 at 00:23
  • Amanda K-L.:
    I use Melissa in my calm kid tea. I love how it brings the kids down to a normal peaceful state. It is also in the teething tincture I make my little man!
    29 October 2012 at 04:41
  • Ryn Midura:
    useful for heat stroke.
    25 October 2012 at 18:10
  • Megan H.:
    Been drinking lemon balm tea, plus oats and alfalfa and horsetail all summer, for systemic inflammation. Does it work? Dunno. I sure sleep well.
    26 October 2012 at 00:22

Comments on the herblist:

  • From Jane McR.:
    Date: 10/31/2012 04:39 AM

    Thanks for this - I wonder if it helps all Herpes afflictions, Lemon Balm grows all over the place wild here - would the plantain method be OK (chew & spit) a tea, a tincture or an oil be the best application?

  • From Deb P.:
    Date: 10/31/2012 06:50 AM

    Chew and spit is probably best. An oil would be my next fav for topical.

  • From Jane McR.:
    Date: 10/31/2012 09:26 AM

    Only on herbal groups LOL .....

It's in my book "Practical Herbs 2. Go get it, if you haven't yet!