Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis

Other Names: Balm, Balm mint, Blue balm, Dropsy plant, Garden balm, Sweet balm, Lemon balm, Melissa.

Habitat
    Lemon Balm is common throughout Europe, but  mostly cultivated in the United States. It sometimes grows wild in sunny fields and along roadsides. It is a perennial and is easily cultivated by seed or root division in rich, sandy or loamy soil. The branched upright stem is square and grows to about 3 feet in height. The leaves are bright green growing in opposite pairs they are ovate and serrate. The whole plant has fine hairs and a lemony scent when crushed. The flowers are yellow-white to rose colored or even bluish, two lipped, bilabiate they grow in clusters at the joints or some times on small branches at the joints. Lemon Balm blooms from about July to August. Gather the leaves flowers and stems as soon as the flowers begin to open.

 Properties
   Lemon Balm is edible and medicinal. Fresh leaves can be added to salad or used in egg dishes and can be used to make sauces for fish, poultry and pork. Dried or fresh the whole plant is used to make cool refreshing drinks or warm relaxing teas. Used in alternative medicine the leaves and young flowering shoots are antibacterial, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, febrifuge, sedative, and tonic. Balm contains a volatile oil citral and citronella which is strongly antispasmodic and aids in calming nerves, relieving menstrual cramps, insomnia, depression, hyperthyroidism, upset stomach, and colic in babies. Leaf tea is good for fevers, colds, and headache. Fresh crushed leaves are applied to wounds and insect bites. The essential oils in the fresh plant, particularly citronella make it a most effective insect repellent when crushed and rubbed on skin or clothes. Research has shown that the plant contains polyphenols, it can help significantly in the treatment of cold sores and combat the herpes simplex virus. Added to bath it relieves muscle tension and soothes irritated skin. The oil is often added to skin preparations and perfumes. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy and is very pleasant used in potpourris.

    Lemon Balm can help significantly in the treatment of cold sores and combat the herpes simplex virus. Added to bath it relieves muscle tension and soothes irritated skin. The oil is often added to skin preparations and perfumes. The essential oil (which is quite expensive and often adulterated with lemon or lemongrass) is used in aromatherapy and is very pleasant used in potpourris.

Recipes
Breakfast tea: 2 tsp. chopped leaves added to 1 cup boiling water steep 5 to 10 min. strain add honey and, or lemon.

Cold highnooner: 2 tbsp. per cup of cold water, let stand for 6 to 8 hours. Strain, add ice peppermint sprig and sweeten to taste.