3 Lemon balm

Lemon balm

name = Lemon Balm

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Lemon Balm
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Lamiales
familia = Lamiaceae
genus = "Melissa"
species = "M. officinalis"
binomial = "Melissa officinalis"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus [cite web
title=Melissa officinalis information from NPGS/GRIN

Lemon balm ("Melissa officinalis"), not to be confused with bee balm, "Monarda" species, is a perennial herb in the mint family Lamiaceae, native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.

It grows to 70-150 cm tall. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. At the end of the summer, little white flowers full of nectar appear. These attract bees, hence the genus name "Melissa" (Greek for 'honey bee'). Its flavour comes from the terpenes citronellal, citronellol, citral, and geraniol.


This herb can be easy to cultivate in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. In zone 4, it needs winter mulch and a well-drained sandy soil to survive. In zone 7, it can be harvested at least until the end of November. While it prefers full sun (as described on most plant tags), it is moderately shade-tolerant, much more so than most herbs. In dry climates, it grows best in partial shade. It can also be easily grown as an indoor potted herb.

Lemon Balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetatively as well as by seed. In mild temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring. It can be easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water, or from seeds. Under ideal conditions, it will seed itself prolifically and can become a nuisance in gardens.


Culinary use

Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies.

Medicinal uses

The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos.

Lemon Balm is also used medicinally as a herbal tea, or in extract form. It is claimed to have antibacterial, antiviral properties (it is effective against herpes simplex), and it is also used as a mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective at reducing stress, although the study's authors call for further research [cite journal | last = Kennedy | first = D.O. | coauthors = W. Little, A.B. Scholey. | year = 2004 | title = Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) | journal = Psychosom Med | volume = 66 | issue = 4 | pages = 607–613 | doi = 10.1097/01.psy.0000132877.72833.71 | pmid = 15272110] . Its antibacterial properties have also been demonstrated scientifically, although they are markedly weaker than those from a number of other plants studied [cite journal | last = Nascimento | first = G.G.F. | coauthors = J. Locatelli, P.C. Freitas, G.L. Silva | year = 2002 | title = Antibacterial activity of plant extracts and phytochemicals on Antibiotic-resistant bacteria | journal = Brazilian Journal of Microbiology | volume = 31 | issue = 4 ] .

Lemon balm essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy. The essential oil is commonly co-distilled with lemon oil, citronella oil, or other oils.

Lemon balm should be avoided by those on thyroid medication (such as thyroxine) as it is believed that the herb inhibits the absorption of this medicine.

Despite extensive traditional medicinal use, melissa oil has been prohibited by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA)'s 42nd amendment.


Lemon Balm contains eugenol which kills bacteria and has been shown to calm muscles and numb tissues. It also contains tannins that contribute to its anti-viral effects, as well as terpenes that add to its soothing effects.



External links

* [http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/balm--02.html Mrs M. Grieve, "A Modern Herbal":] Lemon Balm
* [http://sun.ars-grin.gov:8080/npgspub/xsql/duke/plantdisp.xsql?taxon=612 Lemon Balm List of Chemicals (Dr. Duke's)]
* [http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lemon-balm-000261.htm Lemon Balm Medical Reference]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • lemon balm — n a bushy perennial Old World mint of the genus Melissa (M. officinalis) often cultivated for its fragrant lemon flavored leaves and tops that have been used to make a diaphoretic tea * * * 1. Melissa officinalis, a shrub native to the… …   Medical dictionary

  • lemon balm — n. a perennial mint (Melissa officinalis) with white or yellowish flowers and aromatic leaves: used in flavoring food, liqueurs, and medicines * * * …   Universalium

  • lemon balm — n. a perennial mint (Melissa officinalis) with white or yellowish flowers and aromatic leaves: used in flavoring food, liqueurs, and medicines …   English World dictionary

  • lemon balm — noun 1. bushy perennial Old World mint having small white or yellowish flowers and fragrant lemon flavored leaves; a garden escapee in northern Europe and North America • Syn: ↑garden balm, ↑sweet balm, ↑bee balm, ↑beebalm, ↑Melissa officinalis • …   Useful english dictionary

  • lemon balm — vaistinė melisa statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Notrelinių šeimos dekoratyvinis, prieskoninis, vaistinis, medingas augalas (Melissa officinalis), paplitęs Afrikos šiaurėje, Europos pietuose, Azijos pietvakariuose. Naudojamas maisto priedams …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • lemon balm — vaistinė melisa statusas T sritis augalininkystė apibrėžtis Daugiametis, žolinis, prieskoninis, vaistinis, medingas ir dekoratyvus notrelinių (Lamiaceae) šeimos augalas. Šaltomis besniegėmis žiemomis apšąla arba iššąla. Dauginamas sėklomis,… …   Žemės ūkio augalų selekcijos ir sėklininkystės terminų žodynas

  • lemon balm — noun a perennial herb, Melissa officinalis, of southern Europe; used as a flavouring in ice cream etc Syn: balm, sweet balm, bee balm …   Wiktionary

  • lemon balm — lem′on balm n. pln a mint, Melissa officinalis, with small white or yellow flowers and lemon scented leaves used as a flavoring • Etymology: 1885–90 …   From formal English to slang

  • lemon balm. — See under balm (def. 5). [1885 90] * * * …   Universalium

  • lemon balm — /ˈlɛmən bam/ (say lemuhn bahm) noun → balm (def. 5) …   Australian English dictionary

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