Lemon balm is such a bright cheerful herb that promotes mental wellness, relaxation, and improved digestion. Learn more about lemon balm with this monograph.
Oh lemon balm. That lovely herb just loves to take over a garden plot! I made the mistake of sowing way too many lemon balm seeds years ago in hopes to get a big plot established, only to be over run with it after a couple of years.
I did the same thing with yarrow. I promise I’ve learned my lesson!
But like yarrow, lemon balm is so useful that I don’t really mind having an abundance. It provides such a sweet lemony flavor to teas and kitchen recipes. I love making a sun tea with fresh lemon balm in the summer to enjoy cold over ice. I even add it to fish recipes for an herby, lemon flavor!
It’s herbal benefits are numerous as it helps with stress and tension, eases digestive discomforts, and can gently lower blood pressure. Talk about a wonderful herb! Learn all about it in this month’s Herb of the Month post, including another printable herb card and a great giveaway from my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs!
Like other plants in the mint family, lemon balm has square stems, though its stems are more flimsy than other mints and bend easily. The bright green leaves grow in pairs up the stem and are somewhat heart-shaped, deeply veined, and scalloped along the edges. Lemon balm blooms through the summer with minute white flowers that grow around the stem at the base of leaves. This perennial herb grows 1-2 feet tall.
Aerial parts, including leaves, stems, and flowers
Actions in the Body
- Lemon balm is a well-respected nervine herb, gently toning the nervous system and helping with stress tension.
- As an antispasmodic, it promotes gentle muscle relaxation.
- It is a carminative, which means that it helps relieve uncomfortable intestinal gas.
- Extracts and essential oil have shown powerful antimicrobial properties.
Lemon balm is most often taken as a simple herbal infusion. One to two teaspoons of dried lemon balm can be steeped in one cup of freshly boiled water while covered. This infusion can be taken three times a day and makes for an enjoyable evening drink. Lemon balm combines well with chamomile, lavender, catnip, and passionflower.
Lemon balm may also be taken as an herbal extract.
Fresh lemon balm is also an enjoyable herb to add to culinary dishes. It’s lemony flavor compliments both savory dishes as well as fresh fruit salads and other sweet foods.
Lemon balm is generally considered safe for all populations, but large or frequent doses of potent extracts may interfere with thyroid medications. Consult a physician if you take thyroid hormones and wish to take lemon balm therapeutically.
Do you use lemon balm, or do you think it might benefit you?
Expanded Commission E: Lemon Balm. American Botanical Council. Web. 5 May 2016.
Fritchey, Philip. Practical Herbalism. Whitman Publications, Warsaw, Indiana. 2004. (found here).
Hawkins, Jessie. Botanical Medicine in the Home. Vintage Remedies, Franklin, Tennessee. 2013. (found here).
Hoffman, David. Medicinal Herbalism. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont. 2003. (found here).