Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), balm, common balm or balm mint… It grows everywhere around us and its application is very wide. And what is most important is that this beautiful fragrant plant can restore our faith in life.
It has been known in southern Europe and northern Africa for more than two millennia. Lemon balm grows along fences, in the woods and near towns and villages, it is often found near beehives because bees love its aromatic flowers that last throughout the summer. It was given its Latin name after the bees.
The Arabs were the first to use it medicinally, as infusions against tension. It was particularly popular in the Middle Ages and nuns of the Carmelite Order devised the famous recipe for Carmelite water which was believed to bring longevity, remove depression, palpitations, fear, fatigue and restore consciousness; it consisted of alcohol, lemon balm leaves, lemon zest, angelica root, coriander seed, nutmeg, cinnamon chips and whole cloves.
Maurice Mességué, a French herbalist and a pioneer of herbalism in North America, famous for his slogan “working with the patient, not with the disease”, had a particular affection towards lemon balm. He called Melissa officinalis “the queen of all stimulative herbs” and glorified its wide spectrum of effects.
In addition to its medicinal properties, lemon balm has a very pleasant smell reminiscent of citrus fruits and is used in the perfume industry and cooking. The Mediterranean cuisine would not be what it is without this herb which is used in stews, freshly cut in salads, pastries and drinks. This herb imbues everything with its special fresh lemony aroma.
What can lemon balm do? Information passed from generation to generation, proven by modern medicine, shows that lemon balm does the following:
- it relieves stress, tension, anxiety, depression and insomnia
- it soothes palpitations and irritability in menopause
- it improves concentration, creativity and aids the thought process employed in the resolution of complex cognitive problems
- it is rich in antioxidants, protects the cells from damage caused by oxidation
- it helps patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it improves memory and concentration
- it soothes cramps and imbalances in the digestive tract and period pains
- it calms infections, herpes and reduces swellings
- it has antiviral properties and accelerates healing
- it prevents and stops bacterial infections, including candida
- some studies have shown that it effectively destroys glioblastoma multiforme cells, a type of brain tumour
- it reduces headaches and head tensions
- it reduces the symptoms of diabetes and improves glucose tolerance
- phenolic alkaloids in lemon balm can prevent the synthesis of bad cholesterol and reduce the level of triglycerides in the blood
- it reduces high temperature and helps relieve symptoms of colds and flu
- it helps with hyperthyroidism
- it helps the body cleanse itself of toxins
- it helps those involved in increased mental activity, students and intellectuals
- it moisturises the skin, soothes eczema, acne and small skin abrasions
Even though it almost has no adverse effects, it should not be used in combination with chemical tranquillisers without prior consultation with a medical professional. It should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
If we have it to hand, we can put some fresh lemon balm in tea or lemonade, add it to a stew or a soup, or just bunch it and hang it to dry spreading its appealing fragrance around our home.
There is also an easier way – it can be found in Herba Svet products. In Femisan B, lemon balm soothes problems associated with menopause – anxiety, irritability and palpitations; in Optima Forma it calms and soothes the symptoms of stress and gives mental strength. Lemon balm also helps with insomnia and other sleep-related issues, without causing drowsiness. In Leocardin, this herb calms heart rate and tachycardia. In Disan it prevents respiratory infections and eases breathing and expectoration.
With lemon balm and Herba Svet products we can live la vie en rose!