LEMON BALM (Mellissa officinalis) – aka. Bee Balm or Heart’s Delight


Bees love this plant, and so do we!

Family: Lamiaceae

Habitat & Cultivation: Native to southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Growing easily across the world, this self-sow perennial can be grown from seeds, stem cuttings, or division during the spring or autumn time.

Constituents: Flavanoids (guercetin, luteolin, apigenin), Triterpenes, Polyphenols, Tannins, Volatile oils, Rosmarinic Acid, Bitter principle

Actions: Antiviral, Antispasmodic, Antibacterial, Carminative, Muscle relaxant, Diaphoretic, Nerve tonic, Sedative, Digestive stimulant, Relaxing & Restorative for nervous system, Peripheral vasodilator

Parts Used:

  • Aerial parts (leaves, fresh/dry) – freshly crushed leaves produce lemon scent

Traditional Uses: Tonic, Infusion (tea), Lotion (using Lemon Balm Oil), Ointment (using Lemon Balm Oil), Tincture, Essential Oil, Juice, Infused Oil

Preparation & Applications: A gentle plant suitable for all ages. With its mood enhancing effects and calming properties, the plant is well known for lifting the spirits, relieve stress, anxiety, tension and poor sleep. A soothing plant for digestive issues, nausea and colicky pains. Its ability to relax muscles including the heart, reduce spasms, and healing cold sores and fever blisters makes this traditional plant widely used for thousands of years.

  • Cold Sores (oral herpes): Tiny blisters on the skin can indicate several things 

    • 1) The body is fighting infection. Make an infusion (tea) from 2-4tsp of crushed leaf in 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for ~15 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups (700 ml)/day.

    • 2) The body is being attacked by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Make an infusion (tea) from 2-4tsp of crushed leaf in 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for ~15 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups (700 ml)/day. You can also apply the tea directly on sores with soaked cotton balls throughout the day.

    • 3) Skin has been over-exposed to sunshine or wind. Blisters mainly occur around nostrils and lips. Apply a cream, or an ointment, or Lemon Balm Oil 

  • Anxiety, Depression & Tension: When you are stressed it is important, more than ever, to find inner-balance, to take care of yourself by eating and sleeping right, and to find time to rest. Make an infusion (tea) and drink up to 3 cups (600 ml)/day. 

  • Sedative and Antidepressant Tea: Powerful herbs make powerful remedy! Make an infusion by combining equal amounts (1-2 tsp full) of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and Lemon Balm (Mellissa officinalis). Let it infuse for ~15 minutes. Drink this tea 3x/day. 

  • Nervous Exhaustion, Children Suffering from Chickenpox: Make infusion from 2-3 tsp. of dry or fresh herb with 1 cup of hot water, 3x/day. 

  • Headaches & Anxiety: Make tincture from fresh leaves if possible. Take 10-20 drops in water 3-5x/day. 

  • Nausea & Emotional Upsets: You can use dry or fresh herb in this case; whichever you have handy. Make an infusion of 2tsp of fresh herb per 3/4cup (150 ml) of water. Drink up to 3cups/day. 

  • Digestive problems: Make an infusion (tea) and drink up to 3 cups (700 ml)/day. 

  • Indigestion & Acidity: Eating too much too fast, skipping meals, or worrying too much may lead to stomach reflux, bloating, heartburn and/or stomach pain. To remedy these symptoms, make an infusion by combining any of the relaxing and carminative herbs (mentioned above). Adding Chamomile or Meadowsweet to the tea can reduce inflammation. 

  • Stomachache, Stomach Spasms: Poor digestion, excessive nervous tension, food poisoning or infection may lead to cramping pain and/or irritation in the abdominal area. There are several herbs which make great infusions for such discomfort. There are two categories of herbs, when mixed will provide a comforting tea, which will sooth upset stomach and reduces spasm.

    • Relaxing herbs: German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), Lemon Balm (Mellissa officinalis), Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

    • Carminative herbs: Anise (Pimpinella anisum) – use seeds, Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – use seeds, Mint (Metha spp., pp.) – use leaves, Angelica (Angelica archangelica) – use root. To make infusion - Mix 3 parts of relaxing herb with 1 part of carminative herb. Drink up to 3cups (750ml)/day. 

  • Muscle Spasms: Massage Lemon Balm Oil on the affected area as needed. 

  • Flu with Muscle Aches & Pains: Common herbs for common ailments. Make an infusion of 5g of Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), 5g of Lemon Balm (Mellissa officinalis), and 5g of elderflower (Sambucus nigra). Mix the herbs with 750ml of water, and drink the mixture up to 3cups/day. 

  • Painful Swellings: Use a pad soaked in an infusion (tea).  

  • Tension, Chest complaints: To make massage oil - Dilute 5-10 drops of essential oil in olive oil or Lemon Balm Oil

  • Shingles: Blend 5 drops of essential oil with olive oil and massage the affected area very gently. 

  • Cuts & Scrapes: Apply juice from the plant as needed. 

  • Insect stings: Apply an ointment as needed.


Research: Studies shown that combining Lemon Balm and Valerian reduces restlessness and improves sleeping patterns.

Studies have also shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease were less agitated and their cognitive skills improved after ingesting Lemon Balm. 

Scientists were able to identify various compounds which showed an ability to block the herpes simplex virus from spreading. The outcome of clinical trials was that Lemon Balm extract applied externally 3-4 times/daily reduced severity and duration of herpes outbreaks.

Another study discovered that, with Lemon Balm use, the average healing time for cold sores was reduced by half (to approximately 5 days) and the time between outbreaks was prolonged at least by double; thanks to Polyphenols – an antiviral constituents of the herb. Polyphenols have the ability to combat herpes simplex virus.

The European and German health authorities regard the plant as a highly effective relaxant for treating gastrointestinal spasms. The German authorities recognized that the volatile oils (citral and citronellal) have a calming effects on the central nervous system.

Caution: Do not take essential oil internally except under professional supervision and direction. If you are suffering from hypothyroid and taking any sedative medications, Lemon Balm may interfere with those pharmaceuticals. The herb should not be taken before operating machinery, or by anyone who must remain alert.

Credits: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (Andrew Chevallier), The Complete Medicinal Herbal (Penelope Ody), Healing Remedies (C. Norman Shealy), National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs (Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog & David Kiefer), University of Maryland Medical Center

  • Jana Glanzer
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