All About Lemon Balm: The Herb of the Month for May 2016

Lemon balm is such a bright cheerful herb that promotes mental wellness, relaxation, and improved digestion. Learn more about lemon balm with this monograph.

All About Lemon Balm, the Herb of the Month for May 2016

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!

Basic Information

Botanical Name

Melissa officinalis

Description

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.

Parts Used

Aerial parts, including leaves, stems, and flowers

Lemon balm

Uses

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.

Suggested Uses

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.

Safety Considerations

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.

All About Lemon Balm

Do you use lemon balm, or do you think it might benefit you?

References

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).

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    18 Comments

    1. I am a subscriber and get emails but am having issues trying to get the free herb cards.I love all the information you share. However, I havent seen anything about the recap you mention. Can you help? Thank you.

      1. Hi Lisa! I’m sorry to hear you’re having a hard time getting the herb cards. The Recaps are the Saturday newsletters I send out at the beginning of each month. They recap the previous month’s blog posts and have a little note from me, too. At the bottom of those emails, there is a big download button that allows you to get the new herb card. Have you checked your spam or promotional email folder, by chance? It could be that they are going there instead. Since you get the other emails, you should be getting these, too. Let me know if you can’t find it still and I’ll send you an email with a fresh link.

    2. I have used lemon balm for 20+ years, starting as an herbal extract used to help my oldest son (w/ADHD) center and calm himself to get through the school day. To each their own, and I’m not bashing anyone who does use it, so PLEASE do NOT mistake the following as such!!! Once he was diagnosed, I was not about to jump on the Ritalin bandwagon until I had exhausted all my other options! Again, this was MY choice and what worked for MY family; each family has to make that decision for their own family and what works for them! At that time, his school was a lot more relaxed with regulations as to what was allowed to be brought and administered at school. So I gave him his dose in the morning before school, and then he was given a dose at lunchtime at school. Lemon balm worked wonders for him and allowed him to calm down enough that he could focus on the task at hand without turning him into a robot. Since that time, my use of lemon balm has expanded greatly! I did learn something new in this article (Or if I did know about I had forgotten!) though; I learned that lemon balm is an antispasmodic! I will certainly be putting this new knowledge to use!!! Thank you!

    3. We use lemon balm EO, tincture, as well as drink lemon balm tea. I have even used it as an add in for my lemon bars 🙂 so yummy! Would love to try it in cream!

    4. I love mint but have never tried lemon balm and when I read that it was part of the mint family, I knew I would love to try it as a tea and in yummy summer salads! Sounds so lovely!

    5. I could definitely use it for intestinal discomfort, but also nervous system help! My body doesn’t do well with stress & tension…

    6. I love lemon balm! Where I grew up it grew wild and I usto crumple the leaves and smell the wonderful smell! I’m excited to learn some recipes on how to use this stuff!

    7. I have not really used lemon balm significantly although I have made a tea with it some years ago. I love the lemon smell so would love to use the cream and hydrosol on my body and may make tea with the dired lemon balm.

    8. I had a large pot of lemon balm on my porch, but this is its third year and it hasn’t really come back. Luckily I found that it had popped up in a few other spots in the yard. One plant has leaves that are almost as wide as my hand! I can’t wait to try some of these recipes