Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a relatively common part of the mint family, one with a lemony scent and flavor. This plant is sometimes called ‘bee balm’, and its nectar-filled blossoms give plenty of reason for the appellation, but should not be confused with the plant in the Monarda family more commonly called by that name.
Chemical compounds in lemon balm include eugenol, antioxidants, rosmarinic acid, and citronellal. These have strong natural antiviral, antifungal, sedative, and antispasmodic properties that lend themselves to a number of natural remedy purposes.
Medicinally, the leaves of the lemon balm can be used topically, eaten, or brewed as a tea. You can also find lemon balm extracts from some markets. Lemon balm tea can be brewed using up to 4 tablespoons of fresh leaves or 2 tsp dry leaves per cup. A lemon balm pesto is also fairly popular, if you want to incorporate lemon balm into your regular diet. Crushed or extracted into an essential oil or medicinal cream, it can also be applied to the skin.
Natural Lemon Balm Cures:
Lemon balm is well regarded for calming the nerves without knocking you out completely. Indeed, in studies it has been used successfully to calm those with severe dementia. Ayurveda promotes its use for digestive disorders due to nerves, and it has been widely used to soothe the stomach in other traditions. Modern studies have found support for use of this herb (consider using 3-600mg of daily lemon balm supplement) as beneficial for cold sores, cognition among Alzheimer’s patients, and for improved overall mood. Crushing the leaves against your skin can additionally be an effective repellant for mosquitoes. Also, lemon balm is often combined with valerian and other herbs as a cure for insomnia or as a general sleep aid. However, be aware that lemon balm may inhibit the action of thyroid medications.
Herpes & Cold Sores:
Preventing the emergence of cold sores and quickly getting rid of herpes symptoms when they do rise up is the most studied use for lemon balm, and results are generally positive. One published study found that within two days swelling and redness were reduced by continued application of a lemon balm ointment. Another option is to dab emerging or existing cold sores with cold lemon balm tea repeatedly throughout the day. Consistent use of lemon balm against a cold sore outbreak may also prevent recurrence.