- What is lemon balm? Historic facts
The Melissa officinalis or the lemon balm is a calming herb that’s part of the mint family. It originates from the Mediterranean regions in southern Europe. The plant is almost 150 cm high. In the summer, from July to August, it has white flowers with plenty of nectar. The leaves have a bright green color and a lemon and minty scent. It’s better to collect the stems and the flowers as soon as the plant blooms.
The plant also grows in the United States of America. Sometimes, it can be found near the roadsides and in the sunny fields. The lemon balm plant needs no less than 20 degrees Celsius and a lot of light in order to grow. That’s why it’s recommended to cultivate it in the spring time or indoors. Nowadays, the herb is also grown in crops for furniture polish, cosmetics and medicine manufacturing.
The Greeks have been using this beneficial plant for more than 2,000 years. Initially, it was grown and offered to the goddess Diana. In Greek, Melissa signifies honey bee. Throughout the Middle Ages, people used lemon balm to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, crooked necks, toothaches, mad dog bites and skin eruptions. It was also beneficial for healing wounds and for soothing tension. Tradition even said that it can prevent baldness. In the past, individuals also utilized lemon balm plant for vomiting, bronchial inflammations, palpitations, earache, mood disorders, fever, influenza, flatulence, high blood pressure and headaches. Women even employed it to calm PMS and ease menstrual cramps.
In ancient times, lemon balm was used to treat indigestion, colic, bloating, gas, stomach aches, reduce anxiety and stress, eliminate loss of appetite and insomnia. Even before those times, the plant was used in medicinal purposes. People steeped it into wine to heal insect stings and bites, wounds and boost moods and spirit.
Paracelus said that lemon balm revitalizes the entire body, that’s why he calls it the elixir of life. Charles V, the French king used to drink lemon balm tea daily in order to be healthy. Even the Arab physician Avicenna used this plant for various ailments. The Carmelite Water that was produced by the Carmelite nuns from the 17th century contained lemon balm, angelica root, coriander, nutmeg and lemon-peel. The product was mainly used to cure neuralgia and headaches. Many other herbal writers talked about the lemon balm as the plant that takes away melancholy. Nowadays, lemon balm is still used against depression, together with other herbs like hops, chamomile and valerian. It’s beneficial for aromatherapy, because it relaxes and calms the body.
The leaves are used to produce lemon balm supplements. The terpenes found in lemon balm leaves have antiviral and relaxing effects. Tannins also has strong antiviral properties. The eugenol in lemon balm kills bacteria and relaxes the numb tissues and muscle spasms. People can find lemon balm in numerous available forms: oil, tea, tinctures, extracts, capsules and creams. Some aromatherapy oils and homeopathic remedies are made of lemon balm.
- Health benefits
The lemon balm tea is extremely beneficial for many ailments. It can be used for urinary spasms, nervous agitation, menstrual cramps, gastrointestinal complaints and sleeping problems. It also relieves nausea, gas and cramps, thanks to its volatile oil that calms the muscles of the uterus, stomach and bladder. Other uses are for: herpes labialis, tenseness, digestive disorders, irritability and restlessness.
The main properties of lemon balm tea are: tonic, anti-bacterial, sedative, anti-oxidant, spasmolytic, anti-spasmodic, nervous restorative, anti-viral, febrifuge, aromatic, emmenagogue, carminative, digestive, diaphoretic and cerebral stimulant. Lemon balm tea is beneficial for Grave’s disease, because it stops certain activities of the thyroid hormones. This disease is actually an auto-immune ailment which is manifested by an excess of thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland.
For relaxation, concentration and mental clarity, people use lemon balm tea all the time. It treats insomnia, anxiety, sleep disorders and stress. A recent study showed that it can increase the capacity of concentration when it comes to word tasks. Sleep disorders can be solved if you drink one cup of lemon balm tea before bedtime. This is going to relax the overexcited nerves. Heart palpitations can be soothed thanks to the effective lemon balm tea. Compounds found in the plant like citronellal and flavonoids have the ability to strengthen the nerves of the heart. Thus, they can calm nervousness and heart palpitations. Lemon balm tea can also treat gastrointestinal problems. Its agents enhance the production of bile and gastric juices, improving digestion and reducing flatulence, nausea and burping.
If you have a child that’s much stressed about school tests you can give him one cup of lemon balm tea. It’s going to help him concentrate better and it will calm his nerves. It’s better when he drinks the tea before bedtime and after and before school. The lemon balm tea is also used for tension headaches and fevers. Externally, it heals painful swellings, sores and herpes and compresses have positive effects for gout.
Abdominal cramps can also be treated with lemon balm, thanks to its antispasmodic actions. If you often experience this kind of cramps, what you have to do is prepare a concentrated cup of lemon balm tea and pour it into your bath water. Immerse into the water for about 20 minutes and the cramps will be relieved. Lemon balm has also cosmetic uses. It’s a very good skin cleanser and the steamy facials are beneficial for acne. The externally wounds can also be healed with lemon balm, due to its antibacterial effect. Used together with rue, lemongrass and lavender it can repel insects. If you want to keep the bugs away, you may throw these herbs in the campfire when you go for a barbeque. The lemon balm is also beneficial when used in food. The fresh leaves can be used in sauces, green salads, fish marinades, fruit salads, poultry stuffing and marinated vegetables. You can combine it with lemon verbena, lemon basil, lemon thyme, shellfish, broccoli, fish, lamb and asparagus. The Chartreuse and the Benedictine liqueurs are made of lemon balm.
In brief, lemon balm tea is beneficial for: wounds, amenorrhea, viral infections, anxiety, upset stomach, calming nerves, sleeping problems, chronic fatigue, shingles, colds, relaxation, cold sores, phobias, colic, palpitations, depression, painful urination, dizziness, neurocardiac syndrome, fevers, nervous agitation, gastrointestinal complaints, nausea, Grave’s disease, concentration, headaches, mental clarity, herpes virus, menstrual cramps, hypertension, insomnia and hypothyroidism.
- Medical benefits
Over the years, many specialists tried to reveal the positive effects of lemon balm tea by conducting a series of studies. One of these studies was held in England at the Northumbria University. It involved various students that were given for a couple of weeks either placebo or lemon balm. Those from the latter group were able to concentrate much more on the tests and even 6 hours after when doing their homework. They were less stressed and calmer.
Studies have also shown that lemon balm has anti-viral properties, being efficient against herpes. The polyphenols found in the plant can treat viral infections, shingles and cold sores. Several case studies revealed that lemon balm reduces severity, duration and frequency of recurrence of herpes. Lemon balm ointments and creams speeded the healing of genital and cold sores. Also, they stopped infections from spreading and eased redness and itching. These effects are due to the rosmarinic and caffeic acids in the lemon balm. A study with 115 participants showed that the extract healed lip sores, swelling and redness caused by the herpes simplex virus. This happened after only 2 days of research. However, the scabbing and the pain were not treated.
A large study conducted by a dermatology clinic and 3 hospitals in Germany discovered that lemon balm used for infections with herpes lead to no case of recurrence. It also found out that the plant healed more rapidly oral and genital herpes. Another study even revealed that lemon balm could have anti-HIV activities. Other studies discovered that the combination between valerian and lemon balm reduce anxiety, stress and insomnia.
One precise study showed that the mixture of valerian and lemon balm has similar effects to Halcion, improving sleep patterns. One research case was conducted on persons that didn’t have major sleeping problems. They took either placebo, or a combination of lemon balm and valerian. 81% of those from the second group said that they were sleeping better. However, it’s not clear yet if the responsible herb for this outcome was lemon balm or valerian. Another study involved 18 participants. During 7 days, they received 2 doses of placebo or lemon balm extract. Those who took the extract were calmer and had an increased alertness.
Researchers also tried to figure out the benefits of lemon balm tea for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Studies showed that it regulates the production of thyroid hormone, treats thyroid problems and reduces chronic fatigue. Human and animal studies have shown that lemon balm tea has calming effects and over 2 doses can even promote sleep. A study discovered that it is beneficial for the Alzheimer’s disease. It expanded the attention time and improved memory, thanks to its antioxidants. Other study gave lemon balm tea to persons with dementia. The tea relaxed their overexcited nerves.
- Processing, how to make lemon balm tea
As you may have noticed, lemon balm tea is very beneficial for your health. There are many ways of preparing the tea. Here are some of them. The most common way of making lemon balm tea is by using dried or fresh leaves. You need 2 teaspoons of leaves and a cup of boiled water. Let it steep for about 10 minutes and drink it. If desired you can add honey or sugar and even mint or lemon for an extra taste. You may drink up to 4 cups of tea daily, before meals.
A calming lemon balm tea can be made of 28 grams of lemon balm leaves, 18 grams of St. John’s Wort, 18 grams of chamomile flowers and 28 grams of passionflower. Boil them together and then let the tea steep for 15 minutes. After that you may strain and enjoy the benefits of the tea. For gastrointestinal cramps you need 28 grams of lemon balm leaves, 9 grams of valerian root, 21 grams of peppermint leaves and 14 grams of fennel seeds. Add one teaspoon of these herbs into one cup of boiling water and after that let it steep for 10 minutes.
For heart complaints, lemon balm tea containing valerian root, chamomile flowers and hawthorn flowers could have amazing effects if prepared properly. Mix the plants and put 2 teaspoons into one cup of boiling water. Cover the beverage, let it steep for 15 minutes and after that strain. You can add sugar or honey. A recipe called “lemon lover’s tea” includes lemon balm dried leaves, lavender blossoms, lemon thyme dried leaves, lemongrass dried leaves, lemon geranium dried leaves and lemon verbena dried leaves. You have to mix these herbs and add one teaspoon to one cup of hot water. Let it steep for about ten minutes and then drink. The refreshing feeling and the rejuvenating aroma will certainly make everyone enjoy their day.
The “lemon mint sun tea” includes 3 bags of black tea, half cup of chamomile flowers, half cup of lemon balm and half cup of mint. Put them in a pot and then add cold water. Place it in the sun for a couple of hours, strain and put into the refrigerator. Add sugar or honey. For a more refreshing outcome you can add ice into the glass and come up with an amazing summer cocktail. The last of the recipes is the herb and rose tea. It contains one tablespoon of dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons of lemon balm and half cup of red rose petals. Mix the herbs and put 1 teaspoon into a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes and then strain. Add sweetener if desired and that’s it, the drink it done and ready to be consumed.