Native to Southern Europe and Mediterranean region, lemon balm is now cultivated throughout the world, in mild temperate zones. Also known as Melissa, it is a citrusy and fresh-scented perennial herb, growing at a height of 70 to 150 cm. The plant bears clusters of small, light yellow flowers in spring and summer. The deeply wrinkled leaves range from dark green to yellowish green in color, depending on the soil and climate. Lemon balm has been used since ages for soothing tension, dressing wounds, and curing toothaches, skin eruptions, mad dog bites, crooked necks and even sickness during pregnancy. The leaves, flowers and stems of lemon balm are used for medicinal purposes. Read through the following lines to know the health and nutrition benefits of eating lemon balm.
Nutrition & Health Benefits Of Eating Lemon Balm
- Lemon balm helps in relieving pain and discomfort associated with indigestion.
- It also provides relief from symptoms like gas and bloating.
- It helps in treating people suffering from nervousness, anxiety and slight insomnia.
- Studies indicate lemon balm helps in improving memory and lengthening attention span among patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Lemon balm is used in aromatherapy, where it is applied and inhaled to enhance mood and calm overexcited individuals, especially those suffering from dementia.
- It is useful for relieving menstrual cramps, urinary spasms and gastrointestinal complications or pain.
- The volatile oils found in lemon balm help in relaxing the muscles, especially the muscles of bladder, stomach and uterus. The oils also provide relief from cramps, gas and nausea.
- Lemon balm is known to block some of the secretion of thyroid gland and its ability to release hormones in the body.
- It is used for treating Grave’s disease, an autoimmune condition where individuals suffer from excess thyroid hormone, due to an overactive thyroid.
- Lemon balm is used in manufacturing creams that help in healing cold sores or genital sores induced by the herpes simplex virus.
- It is applied topically to provide relief from symptoms such as redness and itching.
- It is combined with other calming and soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile and hops, to promote relaxation.
- Lemon balm is used as a sedative to treat depression and minimize its effects.
- It is used to treat flu and lower blood pressure.
Buying and Storage Tips
- Lemon balm is found in the form of tea, capsules, extracts, tinctures, and oil.
- Fresh lemon balm leaves, stored in plastic bags, keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
- Store dried lemon balm leaves in an airtight container and avoid exposing them to light or heat.
- Steep 2-4 tsp crushed lemon balm leaves in 1 cup of boiling water, for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool the solution and apply on cold sores or herpes sores, using cotton balls.
- Chop fresh lemon balm leaves and add them to sweet or tangy dishes.
- When combined with allspice, bay leaves, mint, pepper, rosemary and thyme, it brings out the aroma of any preparation.
- It makes a great addition to fruit salads, green salads, herb butters, fruit drinks and sorbets.
- It is also used in egg dishes, custards, soups, casseroles, sauces and marinades.
- When taken in large doses, lemon balm can induce sleep.
- Lemon balm should not be consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Patients who are taking sedatives or medications for regulating the thyroid should consult a physician before consuming lemon balm.