lemon balm plants

How to use Lemon Balm

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Find out why you need lemon balm in your garden

Lemon balm is one of those herbs that’s super easy to grow and you end up with a lot of it rather quickly. As part of the mint family, it can take over an area in the blink of an eye. So, while I highly recommend getting a plant or two, be mindful of where you plant it.

When harvesting, don’t be afraid to be a little aggressive about it. Lemon balm can be harvested 2 or 3 inches from the base of the plant. Each time it is cut it comes back even stronger.

Why am I such a lemon balm fan? It’s got a plethora of uses:

  • Supports the immune system and promotes a healthy immune response
  • Gives a sense of balance to the nervous system. 
  • Helps you feel calm when stressed and can help promote focus
  • Calms discomfort associated with indigestion, gas and bloating.
  • This gem is great for skin care, and can reduce the appearance of issues such as rosacea, psoriasis, acne and other skin conditions.

Despite also having the ability to stimulate focus and optimize memory, lemon balm can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Lemon balm is an effective antioxidant and has been studied for its antimicrobial (Antiparasitic, Antibacterial, Antiviral) qualities. According to a 2017 study, “Evidence from numerous clinical and experimental studies has shown the significant protective effects of phenolic compounds against oxidative damage in disease treatment and prevention.” THis is definitely an herb you want to spend some time studying.(1) (2)

And that list isn’t even complete. So you can see why I love this plant so much. It doesn’t hurt that it has a lovely lemony aroma and I’m a big time citrus girl.

harvesting a handful of lemon balm

Since you’re going to have a LOT of lemon balm, what can you do with it?

Lemon balm is great for cooking. Use it in place of lemon peel in recipes and to flavor soups, sauces, vinegars and seafood. Or add it to your favorite sugar cookie dough for a delicious lemony tea cookie. I especially like to toss a few fresh leaves into a salad or a bowl of mixed fresh fruit or use it in a vinaigrette for marinades and salads. It also makes great herb butter. (3)

But it’s also a key ingredient in many natural remedies. From sleep help to soothing cold sores, there are loads of recipes out there. As an essential oil, lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is known as Melissa and can be a fairly expensive oil as the oil yield from each plant is low. It is however very powerful for emotional support, respiratory care, and general immune support. If you’re going to get the oil, make sure you invest in a high quality one. But you can also get many benefits out of your lemon balm plant. 

We’ll be looking at several cooking recipes as well as some simple natural remedies for you to create. You can infuse oil with lemon balm just like we did with calendula. We’ll update this post with links as we go.  If you want to be sure you don’t miss any posts, sign up to get new posts in your inbox. (You should see the sign up on this page)

Let’s start with something that has many uses, lemon balm tea.

To brew the tea, simply use 1/4 cup fresh leaves per cup of water. I used a quart mason jar and put a good handful of freshly harvested (but washed!) lemon balm and covered with boiling water. Allow to steep at least 10 minutes (I generally let it steep at least 20). Store tea in refrigerator – it will keep for a few days. 

lemon balm tea brewing in a mason jar

You drink it warm or cold, just add honey to taste and reap these benefits:

  • Soothes tummy upsets/indigestion
  • Helps you relax and get a good night’s sleep
  • Reduces anxious and stressful feelings
  • Increases focus and concentration

This Lemon Balm Ginger Syrup will help with all of these issues AND help your immune system be at its best.

It’s also great for your skin:

Mix with a pinch of bentonite or similar clay to dab on blemishes or bug bites. Leave on as long as possible to help soothe the irritation and help with inflammation. (4)

Combine with witch hazel (50-50) mix, add a few drops essential oil of your choice for a soothing toner. 

Make a 50-50 mix with vinegar and make a lemon balm hair rinse. It is a mild astringent that helps combat oily hair/scalp.

Note: While it’s generally considered safe for most people, large amounts of lemon balm may inhibit thyroid function. If you have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), are on thyroid medication, have a chronic health issue, or are pregnant, nursing, or have any other questions or concerns, talk with a qualified health professional before use. 

I love low maintenance plants that are high on the usefulness scale. Win win win! Do you have lemon balm in your garden? What do you use it for?

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