Lemon balm, scientific name Melissa officinalis L., belongs to the family of Lamiaceae and it is a very widespread plant even if it is not spontaneous in Europe and those that are found have all "escaped" cultivation. The whole plant gives off a pleasant lemon aroma.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant up to 80 cm tall with a bushy habit, with a ramified stem, with a quadrangular section and rich in hairs and a vertically developing rhizome. The leaves are large, lanceolate, provided with a petiole, with toothed margins and ribs in relief. The flowers are yellowish, then white or pink and blooms from June to September. The fruit is an achene.
Lemon balm contains essential oil consisting of lemongrass, citral, linalool and geraniol. It also contains tannin, resin, succinic acid, mucilage and starch.
Its properties are: antispasmodic, carminative, stomachic, emmenagogue, tonic.
USED PARTS OF THE PLANT
The leaves of the lemon balm are used (harvested in June) and the flower amounts (at the beginning of flowering). It must be dried very quickly in a shady and well-ventilated place so that it does not lose its properties.
HOW TO USE IT
The lemon balm infusion is used in cases of nervousness, nervous excitement, dizziness, difficult digestions and to stimulate the appetite.
The infusion added to bath water or used as a skin tonic is an excellent stimulant and cleanser.
In the kitchen it is used to flavor food or to flavor wines, liqueurs and vinegar.
Lemon balm is also known as lemongrass, lemon grass or cedar grass.
In the 10th century the Arabs used it as a cordial and against melancholy.
Lemon balm enters the composition of the "chartreuse" of the "bénédictine".
The pure essence of lemon balm is considered an amazing but not very toxic and in small doses it causes numbness and slow heartbeat.
The Melissa plant does not exceed one meter in height, it grows throughout Italy, in the woods and in cool and shady places. It is a fragrant herb and has a very pleasant, aromatic flavor, similar to that of lemon.
Lemon balm is rich in essential oils (geraniol, limonene ...), flavonoids, some polyphenolic acids such as rosmarin and caffeic acid and triterpenes.
It is one of the first medicinal herbs, Dioscorides applied it to wounds, Avicenna, the famous Arab doctor who lived in the 10th-11th century, asserted that lemon balm "disposes the mind and heart to joy".
The only parts used in melissia officinalis are the leaves, rich in polyphenols, while the main derivative preparations are the mother tincture, the essential oil and in the form of herbal teas.
In herbalists we find these preparations for sale mainly on the basis of their use as a sedative to combat nervous tension, in a framework of general irritability and in case of insomnia. Also valid in case of headache, originating from nervous tension.
The mother tincture is used as an antispasmodic, when anxiety somatizes at the gastrointestinal level, as the complex of components has relaxing effects on the smooth muscles of the digestive system and the uterus, therefore it is useful for stomach pains, digestive disorders, nausea, bloating and to relieve menstrual pain.
In case of herpes infections in the mouth, prepare a solution of water with 2/3 drops of essential oil and apply a soaked gauze on the part several times a day. In lemon balm are the essential oils which, in addition to giving a pleasant aroma and flavor, have an antispasmodic action, calming the nervous system and relaxing the muscles.
Furthermore, the essential oil of lemon balm is quite successful as an insect repellent and this seems to be due to the insect repellent action of the D-citronellal terpene.
The use of lemon balm is contraindicated in people with glaucoma and can interfere with thyroid action, It is not recommended for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In conclusion, the lemon balm used in herbal tea, mother tincture or dry extract, has an anxiolytic and antispasmodic action. In general, however, it can be said that if anxiety occurs more in the digestive system.
Lemon balm tea is very pleasant and is prepared quite easily.
Before starting, let's take into account that the proportion of lemon balm leaves needed is equal to one teaspoon per cup of water. Based on these indications, we proceed to leave it to infuse for at least 15 minutes, then letting it cool. The herbal tea should be drunk at room temperature.
Ingredients and preparation:
After bringing the water to a boil, add the lemon balm and leave to infuse for about ten minutes. Filter and add a teaspoon of honey.
Sip lukewarm to promote relaxation before going to bed, or at the end of a meal to facilitate digestion.
Naturopath with a master's degree in eating behavior and knowledge in phytotherapy and plantar reflexology. Always passionate about homeopathy, yoga and the plant world, especially native plants and their healing and alimurgic power, as well as natural nutrition and the health effects of eating according to nature.
It happens, more and more frequently, especially in Western countries, to encounter an increase in stress disorders, generally due to particularly hectic and problematic periods at work, school or family level.
When this happens, in general, the tension tends to gradually accumulate internally, until, as they say, "to explode": you end up somatizing the accumulated stress and you start to feel bad even physically, as well as mentally.
And it is precisely to appease the states of agitation, L'insomnia, or, even worse, the real ones anxiety / panic attacks, which often uses thehypotensive, antispastic and sedative action of lemon balm.
Has property sedative which affect the central nervous system. For this reason it is used to combat anxiety and facilitate sleep in case of disorders of nervous origin.
It is one of his property most important, it fights depression and is capable of improve mood.
A study unexpectedly showed that the plant increases the capacity of concentration and the performance of intellectual activities. It seems to have benefits also effects on memory loss in older people.
L'essential oil it is considered a nerve substance, i.e. a substance with tonic effects on the nervous system. This helps keep him healthy by avoiding the disturbances nervous. The oil is useful for calming nervousness, dizziness and even the shock from trauma.
It is also used as painkiller to counter the toothache, migraine and gastritis. Fresh leaves, when rubbed on an insect bite, have the capacity to relieve pain in a short time.
It can also be used for massages and hot baths against rheumatism pains. Useful for relieving gastrointestinal disorders such as aerophagia, nausea, vomiting and peptic ulcer. A tea made from lemon balm leaves brings benefits against menstrual pain.
The leaves also have property spasmolytics able to facilitate the relaxation of the bronchial muscles. For this reason its use brings benefits in case of asthma problems.
The phenolic acids present in the leaves have property able to protect the body from the activity of free radicals. Its intake can be useful for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and other pathologies.
It is often used for thyroid problems. Constant use of lemon balm has been shown to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. This property makes the plant suitable for making benefits in case of chronic fatigue.
Second recent studies conducted on animals, this precious plant would help to combat M.orbo of Graves. This disease stimulates the thyroid to secrete excess hormones. At the moment, however, no human studies have yet been conducted to confirm this possible use of the plant.
One of the main components ofessential oil of lemon balm, the citral, turns out to have strong property fungicide. Polyphenols and tannins contain the active ingredients with property antivirals.
It has been shown that it has effects antivirals against Herpes simplex HSV-1 and Herpes Zoster. Those who use it regularly, in case of herpes have symptoms, such as itching and redness, much milder than those who do not use it. It is no coincidence that an ointment for the treatment and cure of herpes is produced in Germany that contains precisely thelemon balm extract.
Has property antibacterial against the Mycobacterium Piei and of Streptococcus Hemolytica. It also inhibits the growth of yeast Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.
There lemon balm it is also traditionally used against earache, flatulence, mood disorders, palpitations and vomiting.
In herbal medicine it is a precious plant, the Melissa, now we are all convinced, I think. But humanity has been for centuries. Its name, from the Greek deriving from apple trees, which means honey, reminds us that in addition to being useful, it is also good, or rather, its scent is delicious, so much so that bees willingly suck the nectar.
The ancients immediately identified it as a remedy against bad mood and nervousness, they recommended it to those who were full of obsessive obsessions or suffered from mental disorders, it was known as a plant for being able to relieve unrest and sadness. Even the Arabs knew it and considered it interesting because with a comforting effect: in the 11th century the doctor Avicenna praised Lemon Balm for "the wonderful property of cheering and comforting the heart".
In 1611 this plant entered the graces of the friars: "Lemon Balm Water" it was in fact invented in that year by French Discalced Carmelites and it was sold out as a popular remedy for rich and poor, against toothache, syncope, nervous breakdowns and various ailments. The only precaution must be not to overdo it, an exaggerated dose of this plant can give the opposite result to the desired one.
Other than calming, therefore, the Melissa it could plunge us into a terrible state of anxiety and agitation. The only subjects for which it is not indicated are patients with thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism.
Melissa is essentially rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium. Excellent source of antioxidants, active ingredients and vitamins A and C. It also contains an essential oil, citroneol and flavonoids.
Take 1 to 3 infusions per day, with up to 10 grams of dry lemon balm. You can buy lemon balm in the form of an essential oil to promote relaxation. The use in capsules is rare, but it exists, as well as lemon balm water (very effective in treating skin and eye diseases), which is a mixture of plants in which the proportion of lemon balm is dominant.
If taken in the right quantities, lemon balm it has no particular side effects. It is absolutely forbidden for those suffering from thyroid problems, especially of hypothyroidism, because there could be cases of interference with the drugs used to treat this problem. In addition, it should be avoided by patients with glaucoma because it can raise the eye pressure.
Always pay attention to the doses with which lemon balm is consumed. In fact, if you overdo it, it is possible that it leads to opposite effectsthe. This means that instead of calming and relaxing it could result an exciting, with increased anxiety and irritability.
For more information on lemon balm, consult the Humanitas website.