The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Balm

Scientific Names

Balm

  • Melissa officinalis L.
  • Labiatae
  • Mint family

Common Names

  • Balm mint
  • Bee balm
  • Blue balm
  • Cure-all
  • Dropsy plant
  • Garden balm
  • Honey plant
  • Lemon balm
  • Melissa
  • Sweet balm

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Parts Usually Used

Herb, leaves
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Description of Plant(s) and
Culture

Balm is a perennial plant; the stem is upright, hairy, quadrangular, and branched and grows as high as 3 feet. The leaves are opposite, ovate, long-petioled, somewhat hairy, bluntly serrate, and acuminate. The bilabiate flowers grow in axillary clusters and may vary in color from pale yellow to rose colored or blue-white. The flowering time is July and August.

When bruised, the whole plant smells like lemon.

The leaves of this plant, similar in appearance to those of Catnip, are best identified by the strong, pleasant lemony scent.
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Where Found

Common in the Mediterranean area and the Near East but is also naturalized to some places in the United States. Mostly, it is cultivated as a culinary herb, but it grows wild in fields, barnyards, old house sites, open woods, gardens and along roadsides, from Maine to Florida and west to Kansas.
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Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, stomachic, febrifuge, sedative, antidepressant, nervine
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Biochemical Information

Volatile oil (including citronellal), polyphenols, tannins, bitter principle, flavonoids, rosmarinic acid
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The great Paracelsus called this herb the elixir of life, and combined it with carbonate of potash in a mixture known as Primum Ens Melissae. It is recorded that one of Louis XIV’s physicians, Lesebure, tried this out on an elderly chicken, which within a few days lost its tattered plumage, grew fresh feathers and started to lay eggs again. He had earlier tried it, with equally dramatic results, on two old servants, but did not complete the experiment. Another of Paracelsus’s elixirs, the Primum Ens Sanquinis, contained human blood and Alcahest, a universal medicine based on caustic lime, alcohol and carbonate of potash.

Eau de Carmes, a fashionable 17th century perfume, was a distillation of balm leaves and spirits of wine, to which were added lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Balm oil is still a favorite scent throughout the Middle East.
The botanical name melissa is from the Greek word for honey. Bees are particularly fond of this plant. Among the ancient Greeks it was a practice to place sprigs of balm in bee hives to attract a swarm.

John Hussey of Sydenham, England, who lived to the age of 116, breakfasted for 50 years on balm tea sweetened with honey, and the herb teas were the usual breakfasts of Llewelyn, Prince of Glamorgan, who lived to 108. Other amazing powers of longevity have been ascribed to lemon balm.

Balm and bees have been linked since ancient times. Melissa comes from the Greek for “honey bee”, and lemon balm has the same healing and tonic properties as honey and royal jelly. Gerard said the the herb “comforteth the hart and driveth away all sadnesse,” and it was a favorite in medieval “elixirs of youth;” the alchemist Paracelsus made a preparation called primum ens melissae, and even in the 18th century, it was still thought to “renew youth.”

Originally grown in the Orient, Arab traders introduced this herb to Spain. It was later brought to Germany by Benedictine monks. Still popular in Europe, lemon balm is now grown in parts of the United States. The famous 17th century herbalist Culpeper thought so highly of lemon balm that he wrote, “Let a syrup made with the juice of it and sugar…be kept in every gentle woman’s house to relieve the neighbours.”

Essential oil: the concentrated essence of lemon balm has the same properties as the leaves but is far more potent; a few drops make an excellent antidote to depression. Pure essential oil is difficult to obtain commercially; it is often adulterated with lemon or lemongrass oils.
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Uses

Balm is a remedy for common female complaints and is useful for all sorts of nervous problems, hysteria, melancholy, and insomnia. Use balm tea to relieve cramps, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, liver, spleen, bladder troubles, chronic bronchial catarrh, and some forms of asthma. Try it also for migraine and toothache, and, during pregnancy, for headaches, tension, and dizziness. The warm infusion has diaphoretic effects. An infusion of the leaves added to bath water is also said to promote the onset of menstruation. It is a cooling drink for feverish colds fever, and flu. Use the crushed leaves as a poultice for sores, tumors, swellings, milk-knots, and insect bites. Balm promotes sweating, and is a valuable stand-by when fever is present. Balm is also used in herb pillows because of its agreeable odor.
Experimentally, hot-water extracts have been shown strongly antiviral for Newcastle disease, herpes, mumps; also antibacterial, antihistaminic, antispasmodic, and anti-oxidant.
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Formulas or Dosages

Collect the plant before or after flowering. The fresh plant is more effective than the dried.

Infusion: use 2 tsp. chopped herb or leaves to 1 cup boiling water. Drink warm, as required.

Cold extract: use 2 tbsp. per cup of cold water; let stand 8 hours.

Extract: mix 1/2 to 1 tsp. of extract in 1 cup water, take up to 3 times daily.

Use the dried herb to make tea, or drink 1 cup of packaged tea daily.

Tincture: the dose is 1/2 to 1 tsp.

Powder: take 10-40 grains at a time.
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How Sold

Sold in commercial antiviral preparations in Germany.
This herb is widely available in tea, dried herb, and extract.
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Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Lemon Balm Tea in Pregnancy

University of Maryland Medical Center: Lemon Balm

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Sleep Disorders

Drugs.com: Lemon Balm

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Bibliography

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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