Scientific name: Melissa officinalis
Taste: Lemony tasting, a bit sour
Properties: Calming, antiviral, antiseptic, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue,
Uses: Used for fevers, depression and melancholy, nervous tension. Helps with digestion.
Culinary, fragrance, medicinal and ornamental. Gentle properties make it great for kids. Use in teas, as a incture, a glycerite.
I began here. My journey into herbalism began here, with Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis. She was my first Materia Medica, created while sitting in a cabin in Tennessee. She began this walk with me, my walk into herbalism. It is upon her heels I stand. My first. The first perennial herb I started from seed. I seeded her into seed starter mix, and to my surprise she sprouted quickly. My farmer's market table flourished with tiny plants waiting to go to new homes.
And I had forgotten. I had forgotten the relationship I had with her, until one morning as I sat in The Garden. I was a tad melancholy and her fragrance wafted across my nostrils, as if to stay, "I'm still here." It almost startled me. She reminded me that she was here in the beginning, and that she’s still here.
An especially desired place to forage for the bee, her name derives from melisso-phyloon, a Greek term meaning “bee leaf.”
I sit with her every morning during my quiet time in The Garden, and my self-absorbed self had taken her for granted. This area of the garden bears her name, My Lemon Balm Garden. A July harvest of leaves and flowers give way to new growth for a potentially second harvest. And it is so needed, for it has become a staple in my garden and my herbal blends.
Lemon Balm is very easy to grow from seeds or cuttings. She likes rich, well-drained soil, but is often forgiving to less than admirable growing conditions. Forever gracious, lending her properties to help regulate the heart, and to ease heartache. Her fragrance is heavenly and helps ease most anxiety suggested for the day. Just the scent of her volatile oils lifts the spirits and relaxes the brain. Her tea settles the tummy and reduces fever. A lemon balm glycerite is quite formidable to the palate. She will forever be my first love.