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Lemon balm, Melissa

Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis

Family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae)

Part used: leaves

Aroma: fresh green, herbaceous and lemony sweet.

Description: A perennial herb that is bright green, with oval to heart shaped serrated leaves. Flowers are loose clusters that are a small bell shape of white, pink or yellow.

Origin: Native to the Mediterranean, though now cultivated worldwide.

Name: derives from Greek melittena, meaning honey bee, as according to Dioscorides “the bees do delight in the herb.” It attracts bees, thus helping to pollinate gardens.


The history and use of Melissa dates back to the Middle Ages. Both Dioscorides and the Roman botanist Pliny noted Lemon balm’s analgesic, antispasmodic, and vulnerary benefits for toothache, asthma and wounds, even insect bites. It calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues and kills bacteria. 

It was highly valued by Arabian physicians. In his 11th century materia medica, The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna wrote “teacheth that balm maketh the heart merry and joyful, and strengtheneth the vital spirits.” This supports the ancient reputation it held for easing cardiac and nervous disorders, and for alleviating melancholy.

Paracelsus, Swiss physician and alchemist (1493-1541) called it “The Elixir of Life,” believed to promote longevity and strengthen life. In the 17th century the nuns of the Carmelite religious order created and sold Carmelite water to promote long life.   

Emotionally, Melissa is a plant of gentle and hardy disposition.  It subtly effects people who are easily traumatized by confrontation, who manifest their strength by trying to contain rather than to respond to and express feelings of hurt and anger.  The feelings build up within creating an oppressive state of mind.

This herb can reach the deepest layers of the psyche, the “inner child” of our emotional being. It can help restore clarity and security to a confused, dependent soul. As it can restore tranquility and simplicity of the heart, it can provide a source of spiritual strength.


Tea - fevers, depression, melancholy, nervous tension, digestion, restless sleep

Essential oil (external use) - herpes simplex virus, shingles

It is calming and gentle and therefore a good herb for children and those who may not care for the strong bitter flavors of other herbs.

It removes surface tension from the body, thus making it a good choice for nervous tension and depression. It relaxes the mind without reducing alertness. It thus stimulates memory and enhances mood.

It is also effective for stomach upset and gas, as are other mints.

Supports healthy liver function, improving cholesterol synthesis in the liver.

Also known to regulate heart arythmia, without negative side effects.

It can regulate over active thyroid, hyperthyroidism. 

The essential oil as well as the leaves can be incorporated into a topical application to be used on cold sores, herpes simplex and has proven to be effective with shingles.

Skin care: – The first use of this herb known for skin care was by the Queen of Hungary in the 14th century to soften wrinkles and erase years from her appearance.

It is calming, soothing, tightening on the skin and stimulates circulation. Its antibacterial components also help to reduce blemishes.

It is beneficial for acne and sun burned skin, but must be used minimally in carrier oil or cream, as it can be irritating to some.

Garden of Eve Clearly Lovely Facial Toner

(for acne prone skin)


                      contains Melissa Hydrosol                     

NOTE: The essential oil is of Lemon balm, Melssa is quite, costly because a great deal of plant matter is required to produce only a very small amount of the essential oil.  Beware if it is not expensive, it is not pure.

Caution:  Avoid while pregnant and breast feeding

May interact with sedative and thyroid medications, and possibly HIV medication.

Avoid if thyroid is severely underactive.


Author, Eve Stahl, is a Health Consultant, Herbalist and Skin Care expert. She specializes in using nature's plants to enhance the health of people and to protect the health of our planet. To achieve this purpose she has created Garden of Eve Skin Care products for sensitive skin and all skin types. You can visit her company at: www.gardenofeve.com Prospective Affiliates visit: www.gardenofeveskincare.com/affiliate-application.  

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