Melissa Officinalis, also referred to as balm mint, common balm, or lemon balm, is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region (southern Europe) of the world. Today, it is commonly grown in numerous countries due to its popularity as an herbal supplement, use in aromatherapy, and other uses. Melissa Officinalis is a member of the mint family. Capable of growing to a full height of two to five feet, given the right growing conditions, this herb produces leaves that emit a lemony-mint scent that is pleasing to the olfactory senses. The plant derives its name in part from the Greek word for honey bee (Melissa), due to the fact that the small white flowers are like magnets to bees, attracting them to their blossoms regularly because of their sweetly scented nectar.
Grown for its use as a bee attractant, medicinal uses, aromatic qualities, usage in the furniture-polish manufacturing process, and capabilities for skincare formulas, this plant can reach a height of two feet and occasionally higher than that. The stem is squarish in shape and branches out, while the roots are short. Depending on the growing medium, the leaves vary in color along a range of yellowish green to dark green, and they are creased and wrinkled. While the leaves are shaped similarly to the leaves of the mint plant (toothed and heart-shaped), they produce a sweet-yet-tart smell. The blossoms, forming loose bunches, of this plant are either white or yellowish-white in color. Despite the fact that this is a perennial plant, it dies in the winter. However, its roots remain alive and ready to produce fresh growth in the spring.
Melissa Officinalis has a long history that dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks when the plant was used to induce a soothing effect that created a restful mood and could even lead to a sedated state of being. Throughout time, lemon balm has continued to be used to instill a calming effect in human beings. During the Middle Ages, it was used for a variety of ailments including sleeplessness, loss of appetite, bloating, indigestion, colic, and nervous anxiety.
In the late 1700s, lemon balm was steeped in wine as a restorative solution that was intended to enhance the powers of the brain, improve the spirit, rejuvenate an individual’s youthful appaearance, and stimulate hair growth. Medicinally, it was used to induce perspiration in patients suffering from fever or influenza. Today, lemon balm is sometimes used to improve a person’s mental capabilities, treat Alzheimer’s disease, or alleviate the symptoms of indigestion. As an antioxidant, Melissa Officinalis is included in skincare formulas today for its potent anti-aging capabilities.
The leaves of Melissa Officinalis are used to make tea that induces relaxation, something that is backed up by scientific study. Lemon balm contains chemical compounds known as terpenes. These compounds are known to reduce stress, induce restfulness, and enhance a person’s mood. Drowsiness may result after ingesting lemon balm tea or taking a supplement made from it.
Lemon balm is used in aromatherapy because of its calming and uplifting abilities as well as being included in a variety of skin care products, cleansing solutions, and candles. It is commonly blended with additional herbs, such as chamomile and valerian to promote a stronger calming sensation designed to induce relaxation. Essential oil of lemon balm is used in perfumes for its sweet smell.
Melissa Officinalis has been credited with having antiviral capabilities due to the polyphenols and tannins that are found in it. In particular, it is used to treat certain cold sores created by the herpes simplex virus. Containing eugenol, it may offer antibacterial benefits. Eugenol is also considered responsible for the herb’s ability to soothe muscle spasms or induce a numbing sensation to the skin.
In addition to being included as an ingredient of various skincare and herbal formulas, Melissa Officinalis is found in supplemental form as a capsule, tincture, or topical cream. The extract derived from the Melissa Officinalis plant should not be combined with any other formulas or products that are designed to induce sedation as the results could be less than beneficial. Caution is advised for those individuals taking a thyroid medication. Lemon balm extract may interfere with the body’s absorption of the medicine, limiting its benefit.