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Lemon Balm 101

Lemon balm is just one of those amiable, easy-to-love plants. A member of the mint family with broad leaves and a pleasing lemony scent, lemon balm has a genial nature that can be best described as kind. It’s no wonder that people throughout Europe have been cultivating and using this plant for thousands of years, both to support digestion and to help calm frazzled nerves.* Melissa (in Latin, Melissa officinalis) is another name for Lemon Balm. Melissa comes from the Greek word for “honey,” and it’s a fitting name because bees are wildly attracted to the plant.

Here at Traditional Medicinals, we make our Lemon Balm tea to support the digestive system and to relieve nervous tension.* Our tea has a pleasantly mild herbal taste, with subtle notes of citrus. Lemon balm is sometimes called the bringer of gladness, and we think it’s the perfect plant ally for mild bouts of melancholy during the winter season.

While we use lemon balm in tea, the ancients often infused or fermented it with wine. One formula was called Carmelite Water or Spirit of Melissa, and it was originally made in the 16th century by Carmelite nuns. We know their patented recipe included lemon balm and spices like angelica, nutmeg and cinnamon all infused into wine. This elixir was used for many different purposes including tension, anxiousness and indigestion.

We get some of our favorite lemon balm from a farming cooperative in and around the Rhine River valley in Germany. The cooperative was founded in 1987, and it’s run by a woman whose parents were herb farmers. This region is also known for its wine production and beautiful castles along the river.

Lemon balm is quite easy to grow, and it can actually take over your garden if left unattended. It is great at attracting bees, making it a wonderful herbal addition to any veggie garden. You can buy seeds from Horizon Herbs, or you can simply get a cutting from a friend. You’ll love the lemony smell that exudes from the leaves when you rub them between your fingertips.

Lemon Balm has been adored since ancient times for its plant power. We hope you’ll remember to enjoy this time tested remedy the next time you’re feeling like you need to relieve indigestion or drive away the winter blues.*

Posted in Plants on February 11, 2015