Run your fingers through Melissa and release the lovely lemony scent. The leaves also have a lemony taste, which can be enjoyed as a hot infusion, or just scattered on a salad.
Melissa is named from the Greek for honey bee as it was originally grown as a plant to attract bees. In the UK it is commonly known as lemon balm. Balm is an abbreviation of balsam, which is a Hebrew word for a ‘soothing unguent’.
The ancient Greeks appreciated lemon balm for its uplifting effect on the mind. 10th century Arab physicians recognised the plants sedative and anti spasmodic effects. Thomas Culpepper, the famous 15th century herbalist, recommended lemon balm syrup to relieve stomach disorders and many other ailments.
Modern day herbalists use lemon balm to calm the digestion and to calm the mind. The herb has a particular affinity to stress-related digestive problems.
Grow your own medicine! Lemon balm is a popular garden plant which grows easily, but can be invasive, so I prefer to grow mine in a pot.
Just add hot water to fresh or dried lemon balm to make a refreshing and uplifting herbal tea. Hot water releases the essential oils which give Melissa officinalis medicinal qualities. The oils contain citronellal, geranial and neral, which have sedative and antispasmodic effects.
Lemon balm is also noted for its anti-viral properties and is a common ingredient in creams and lip salves for cold sores.
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