Benefits of Lemon Balm for Everyday

The benefits of lemon balm for the entire family are worth the effort. Join Julie on Crunchy Christian Podcast today as she talks about this wonderful, mild herb.Lemon Balm is a useful plant to include in any herbal garden. The benefits of lemon balm for the entire family are worth the effort. Join Julie on Crunchy Christian Podcast today as she talks about this wonderful, mild herb.

History

Greeks

Melissa officinalis appears in ancient texts as far back as 2000 years. It is strongly associated with bees and is sometimes referred to as bee balm. It certainly is a “balm” for bees as they can’t seem to resist the smell. Perhaps that’s the observation from which Greeks derived their mythology. The earliest texts place lemon balm in Ephesus, which is in modern day Turkey. Ancient Greek texts are rife with mythology around this plant. For example, in Greek mythology, Melissa was the nymph who discovered honey and nursed the infant Zeus, who later became king of the gods. Nymphs were said to be able to take the form of bees. For the Greeks, these Melissae were priestesses serving the great goddess mother of nature. They believed that only those who lived a righteous life could become Melissae and then return to heaven, like a bee returning to the hive. And of course, the genus name, Melissa, is the Greek word for “honeybee.”

Learn more about some ancient benefits of lemon balm on the podcast.

 

Middle Ages

In the ninth century, Charlemagne consumed lemon balm teas and tinctures to promote health and longevity. He decreed that lemon balm should be included in all apothecary and monastery gardens in his realm.

On the podcast, Julie talks more about the monastic gardens and Carmelite water!

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, people praised the benefits of lemon balm. They claimed it as a sort of fountain of life and overall tonic, using it in elixirs, liquors, ointments, and baths. They even used it as a furniture polish and room freshener. Lemon even makes its appearance in Shakespearean plays as an anointing herb and as an herb for grief.

It’s no wonder why settlers would bring lemon balm with them when they came to North America. The benefits of lemon balm over the years made it indispensable.

Benefits of Lemon Balm

The leaves are crushed by beekeepers to release this smell and draw worker bees to a newly-constructed hive—a technique in use since antiquity. Lemon balm contains many of the same chemicals that are found in bee pheromones, such as nerolic acid. Its actions are nervine, sedative, mild antidepressant, mild antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, antiviral, antioxidant. Contains: flavonoids, tannins, rosmarinic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, methyl carnosoate, hydroxycinnamic acid, and several phenols and aldehydes, including citral and geraniol, especially in the essential oil. Interestingly, geraniol and citral are also found in the worker honeybee’s Nasonov gland!

Also contains vitamin C and thiamin and when added to drinks, makes a refreshing summer tea. It has also been added to jams and jellies to add a nice lemony flavor. Some people even candy the leaves!

Growing It

A perennial member of the mint family, growing up to three feet tall. Square stems with oval or heart-shaped serrated leaves. Small flowers in pale yellow, white, or pink. Has a lemony smell and flavor. Grows best in cooler climates and tolerates weather down to -20F. Dislikes hot climates. Grows best in rich, well-drained soil but will grow in almost any soil as long as it isn’t too wet. Might be good to plant it with Thyme and Lavender. Grow it near your cabbage family vegetables as it helps deter insects that like those plants. Another of the benefits of lemon balm is that it attracts honeybees, as already discussed. So, you could also plant it near fruit trees or other plants that depend on bees for pollination. Be aware that like other members of the mint family, it can become invasive if not managed well.

Modern Research and Uses

This herb is used fresh, dried, in teas, syrups, ointments, and as an essential oil. The benefits of lemon balm essential oil are similar to that of the whole plant. European studies show it is effective in shortening the healing time of cold sores and shingles outbreaks.

Other studies have shown the benefits of lemon balm to include stress relief, reduce anxiety, improve cognitive function, helps with sleep, and pain relief for menstrual cramps, headache, and maybe toothache.

Safe for children, even babies. In fact, one study showed that lemon balm combined with fennel and chamomile reduced crying time in colicky babies by half compared with babies receiving a placebo.

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