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Melissa

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  • Botanical: Melissa officinalis
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Hits: 1749
Melissa

Botanical

Melissa officinalis

Family

Lamiaceae

Known as

Zitronenmelisse, Melissa, Lemon balm, melissa_officinalis

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

August to October

Parts Used

leaves

Medicinal

anxiety, anorexia, asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, bruises, colds, coughs, fever, flatulence, flu, gout, headache, heartburn, insect bites, insomnia, irritability, menopausal symptom, migraine, pre-mestrual, restlessness, rheumatism, stomach pain, toothache, ulcers, wounds

Hormone & Sexual Organs

cramps, menopausal symptom, pre-mestrual

Infection & Inflammation

infections, infections intestinal

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, rheumatism, spasm

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, anorexia, headache, restlessness

Respiratory System

bronchitis, cough, difficulty breathing

Properties

analgesic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, fungicide, relaxant, stimulant

Note

middle

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

Melissa Officinalis is a perennial herb from the Lamiaceae (mint) family, which just happens to be the same family as Salvia Divinorum. This herb can grow to be 3 feet (1 meter) tall, and 3 feet (1 meter) wide. The leaves are fuzzy with many tiny hairs, they vary in shape from oblong oval to a heart shape and all have a jagged toothed edge.

They are a uniform green with a slight iridescent quality due to the many minute hairs that profusely grow all over the surface of the plant. Lemon Balm flowers are tiny, about a half inch (2 cm) and vary in color from a light pale yellow to a slightly purplish color when they mature. Most notably, when the leaves and stems are crushed they give off a strong lemony scent.

Properties & Uses

Melissa Officinalis has been used to treat many different ailments and conditions throughout history. In antiquity it was used as calmative and given to anxious and stressed people, it was used to relieve insomnia and to induce a relaxed and serene state of mind. Recent studies have shown that there is some validity to these claims; the plant produces an abundant amount of terpenes, which have been shown to produce a soothing and calming effect. Even to this day people make a tea from the leaves to help them relax and fall asleep.

There is also evidence that shows that applying a decoction of the plant oils directly to cold sores eliminates redness, improves the healing time and increases the time between outbreaks, due to the polyphenols produced in the plant. It has also been used to as a topical anesthetic and antibiotic, because the oils produce ozone, which prevents bacteria from growing on an open wound and helps heal minor flesh wounds.

In Native American communities in has been widely used to alleviate migraine headaches and reduce fevers. Water is infused with the leaves for fifteen minutes and then filtered, the tea is drunk and shortly after the patient will begin to sweat and this will help reduce the fever and purge their system of illness.

Other uses

Lemon Balm has long been known for its aromatic qualities and its culinary uses. The Greeks used Lemon Balm to treat insomnia, to calm nerves and alleviate anxiety. It was used as an ingredient in Mediterranean dishes, as a garnish, as an additive to flavor deserts, to make hot and cold teas, and as a flavoring agent in candies and gums; its essential oils were used in much the same manner as spearmint oil. Lemon Balm is also one of the psychoactive ingedients used to make the historically renowned Absinthe.

Cautions

Avoid use during pregnancy.

Distribution

Lemon Balm is native to southern Europe and northern Africa; although, over the last several centuries it has been successfully cultivated all over the world. Today it can be found growing wildly throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and in the Mediterranean. Because this is a very hardy plant that can withstand a wide range of temperatures, moisture levels and climate zones, it has become a popular house plant grown for its culinary uses and to make refreshing summer teas.

Constituents

Lemon balm contains eugenol, tannins, and terpenes. Melissa officinalis also contains 1-octen-3-ol, 10-alpha-cadinol, 3-octanol, 3-octanone, alpha-cubebene, alpha-humulene, beta-bourbonene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, catechinene, chlorogenic acid, cis-3-hexenol, cis-ocimene, citral A, citral B, citronellal, copaene, delta-cadinene, eugenyl acetate, gamma-cadinene, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, germacrene D, isogeranial, linalool, luteolin-7-glucoside, methylheptenone, neral, nerol, octyl benzoate, oleanolic acid, pomolic acid, protocatechuic acid, rhamnazine, rosmarinic acid, rosmarinin acid, stachyose, succinic acid, thymol, trans-ocimene and ursolic acid. Lemon balm contains harmine.