Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) has been cultivated for over 2000 years and has a long history as a bee plant – the Romans placed sprigs in their hives to attract swarms and the name ‘melissa’ is from the Greek word for ‘bee’. The name ‘balm’ is an abbreviation of ‘balsam’ which denotes sweet-smelling oils.

Its therapeutic uses were promoted by Arab physicians of the 10th and 11th centuries and many writers praise its ability to reduce swelling and close wounds. However, historically, greatest praise is reserved for its supposed ability to revivify or renew and was a favourite ingredient in medieval elixirs of youth.

A relaxing restorative for the nervous system, this herb is also credited with strengthening memory and relieving melancholy. Nowadays and infusion made from the fresh leaves might be taken for depression or nervous exhaustion, as well as indigestion and nausea, and a pad soaked in the infusion is still used to relieve painful swellings. The leaves are used externally to treat bites and stings – and the ointment will also repel insects.
The herb induces a mild perspiration, and makes a cooling tea for feverish patients in catarrh or influenza.

An aromatic, cooling, sedative herb with carminative, diaphoretic and febrifuge properties. Cold and dry in character. Cut the plants as flowering begins.

PLEASE NOTE: These notes on the history and use of herbs have been compiled for general interest and are not intended as medical advice, for which you should consult a professional herbalist.

'A Modern Herbal' Mrs M. Grieve FRHS ed. Mrs C. F. Leyel (1973)
'The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal' Penelope Ody MNIMH (1993)
'RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses' Deni Brown (2002)


Cheryl said...

Don't you just love rubbing you hands through lemon balm. I use it for making warm drinks, to lift the spirit. I didn't know it reduces swellings,great info. Could it be used for the grandchildren when they take a tumble in the garden.....I will have to think on that.
Tks again hedgewitch.

Alchemille said...

One of my favorite herbs.
I enjoy it as a nourishing infusion, especially when I'm stressed (alone or combo with oatstraw). I blend pretty well with a lot of herbs too.

Hedgewitch said...

Hi cheryl, hi alchemille

I love hearing how people use plants!

I like lemon balm tea with fresh leaves.. it really does lift the spirit, I agree. I also made a tincture which I took for a while for stress. The nice thing about lemon balm tincture is it tastes nice (lemony!) .. some of the others aren't so tasty :-)

Marilena said...

can you drop by the blog and give me a tip on peat moss? iam not too familiar with using peat in my flower beds. :) i know, what a pain. lol. thanks for the help:)

Alchemille said...

I got lime balm seeds that I'm gonna try growing soon ;).

Hedgewitch said...

not a pain at all, marilena .. I'm not sure if I can help, but I'm off to your blog to have a look :-)

Lime balm sounds interesting, alchemille .. never come across that, would love to hear/see how they get on?