Scientific name: Melissa officinalis

“[Lemon] Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy” – herbalist John Evelyn, 1600’s

Lemon balm is another one of those plants with a ton of uses and benefits, so it’s a wonder that it isn’t more well known in the mainstream world. The name derives from a Greek word meaning “bee leaf” because bees are extremely attracted to it. Part of the mint family with sweet scented leaves, it’s helpful with heart disease, depression, anxiety, and many bacterial and viral infections.

Nutrients

  • Citral
  • Citronellal
  • Tannins
  • Bitters
  • Polyphenols
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Catechin
  • Resins
  • Flavonoids

Health Benefits

Named the “elixir of life” by Paracelsus, it’s obvious this herb has been important to us for many generations.

  • Antispasmodic
  • Calming to the nervous and digestive systems: volatile oils citral and citronellal are mainly responsible
  • Can improve ADD & ADHD
  • Antiviral properties

Cooking Tips

Because it is such a flavorful leaf, use it not only in tea, but also in salads, soups, smoothies, and anything else that the flavor would blend well with!

Quick Remedies

(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)

CAUTION: Lemon balm is considered a thyroid inhibitor so if you have a history of low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) definitely ask your doctor about it before regular use.

  • Stress causing upset stomach: make a tea mixing lemon balm and chamomile
  • Stress induced insomnia: make a  tea mixing lemon balm with passion flower and a couple lavender buds, drink before bed
  • ADD & ADHD; restless child; child with nightmares: especially for young children, lemon balm tea can be very effective

How to Grow

Planting

Where do you live?

It is best grown in Zones 4-9 as a perennial, and as an annual in colder areas. A benefit to having this plant in your garden is that it will attract beneficial bees.

Put em in the ground

Once you have some planted, it will replant its own seeds pretty easily.

  • Well-drained, moist soil
  • Some shade, or if not possible full sun is ok
  • Plant seeds directly into the soil in the fall, or start inside before spring

Harvest

The leaves can be harvested anytime during the growing season, but are best right before flowering. If you’d like another crop, cut the flowers back.

Care

  • The plant will look better when cut back, as it grows pretty tall (2-3 ft)
  • Give fertilizer once in awhile if you’ll be taking leaves from it all season
  • It can be effected by a number of pests. Pest-free organic garden tips.
    • Aphids
    • Spider mites
    • White fly
    • and more…