Common names: Lemon Balm, Balm, Balm Mint, Melissa
Taxonomic name: Melissa officinalis
Uses: Depression, spasms, irritation, colds in kids, sleeplesness, hyper-anything
Area of origin: Europe, Mediterranean, Central Asia
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), or just Balm in the old books is one of the Mint Family. It is special amongst these plants as it is one of the few that are classified by Herbalists as ‘cooling’. It is known to be ‘beloved by Bees’ and that can only be a good thing with the die offs and other problems that those insects (recently named ‘the most important animals on Earth’) have been having.
Melissa is known for helping spasms, especially in our digestive tracts, where it’s constituents can act directly upon irritated tissue. It is an astringent too, so will tone and soothe those tissues as well. In that sense it is a carminative as well, helping gas move by easing spasm and constriction.
Lemon Balm can similarly be used for asthmatic conditions and upper respiratory problems, as you can tell when you inhale it’s pleasant scent.
Balm has many applications, mostly through its effects on the sympathetic nervous system.
Lemon Balm does its stuff through it’s cooling, sedating effects on our nervous system, especially the sympathetic system. We can tell this energetically by its sour taste. That is generally a good indication when one looks for a remedy. Taste is so important.
It is good for what is termed ‘sympathetic excess’. No, that’s not when you’re feeling a little too sorry for someone, it’s when the sympathetic nervous system is switched on too much or too often. A good indication of the sympathetic nervous system being switched on is sweaty palms.
Thinking this way, we can see Lemon Balm indicated in many of the ‘hyper’ syndromes of our controlling glands such as hyperadrenalism and hyperthyroidism.
So, we can see Melissa being used for heart palpitations, high blood pressure, fear, nervousness and anxiety, where the nerves need calming and soothing.
Taking things a step further, excess in the nervous system can lead to tiredness and even depression as energy is used by the excessive, always on, state. Here, Melissa excels, lifting spirits and allowing energy to recover.
We see Lemon Balm, then, as being a useful remedy for stress, anxiety, tiredness, anything that can be caused by a lack of nervous energy.
Another, common, use is in colds and fevers, especially in young children where it’s gentle nature makes it one of my ‘go to’ remedies for youngsters. They even like the taste!
Balm’s aromatic nature leads to it being used as a first aid remedy for burns, blisters, sores and stings and for closing wounds without inflammation.
Lemon Balm grows without hindrance in our garden. It is so useful that I go to it several times a week to enjoy it’s fragrant benefits.