Lemon Balm Monograph

Lemon Balm

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Nomenclature

Melissa officinalis

Family

Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae)

Parts Used

Leaves

Identification of Genus/Species

Part Identification
Stem Similar to others in the Lamiaceae family, the stem is square.
Leaves Leaves are slightly hairy, broad and ovate. Low lying leaves may be heart shaped.  They omit a lemony aroma.
Flowers Flowers bloom in summer and are small and hooded, in white or lemon color.
Taste Pleasant, lemony, and mildly spicy.
Odor Lemony

Cultivation

Lemon Balm is an easy to grow perennial herb that will reach up to three feet high and two feet wide.  It is hardy to zone 3 and prefers fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH. Supplementing the soil with different nutrients will impact the chemical composition and essential oil yield.

Lemon Balm can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or division. Lemon Balm grows best with regular watering.  It will grow in sun or partial shade.

Collection

The entire above ground herb is harvested.  Lemon balm should be harvested by hand in the early morning, after the dew dries.  The leaves should be dried immediately.

Constituents

Essential oil contains citronellal, citral, linalool, and other monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Also contains tannins, flavonoids, and bitters.

The herb contains caffeic and rosmarinic acids.

The chemical composition of the oil is similar to the pheromone that helps worker bees locate their colonies.

Actions

Antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, and nervine sedative.

Medicinal Use

Due to its mild sedative action, Lemon Balm is useful for concentration, depression, sleep and stress.   Lemon Balm is also indicated for gastrointestinal disorders and nervous disorders and is especially prescribed for children with these conditions.

The essential oil has antiviral properties so it is used for cold sores and shingles.

Contraindications & Side effects

No known safety concerns.

Dosage

One to three times daily.

Infusion: 1 cup

Liquid Extract 2 to 4 millimeters

Tincture: 2 to 6 millimeters

References

Balick, M. J. (2014). 21st century herbal: A practical guide for healthy living using nature’s most powerful plants. V. Mattern (Ed.). New York: Rodale, 341-345.

Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier.

Easley,T. and Horne,S. (2016). The modern herbal dispensatory: A medicine-making guide. Berkeley, CA. North Atlantic Books

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Petersen, D. (2015). Herb 201 Herbal Studies. Portland, OR:  American College of Healthcare Sciences

Weiss, R., & Fintelmann, V. (2000). Herbal Medicine (2nd ed.). Stuttgart: Thieme

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Author: thebotanicalengineer

Herbalist, aromatherapist, product designer, and plant scientist.

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