As far back as the Middle Ages, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) was used to soothe tension, to dress wounds, and to treat ailments such as toothaches, skin irritations, and sickness during pregnancy. As a medicinal plant, lemon balm is considered a calming herb that has traditionally been used to provide relief from menstrual cramps, reduce stress and anxiety, promote restful sleep, and ease gastrointestinal complaints (e.g., indigestion, gas, bloating, and colic). It is often combined with other herbs in teas or tinctures for relaxation, such as valerian and chamomile. In modern times it has been used to treat cold sores (oral herpes).
Native to Europe, lemon balm has dainty clusters of flowers that grow all over the world. It is found in backyard herb gardens, in crops grown for medicine and cosmetics, and is used to scent candles and furniture polish. In the spring and summer, the flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. If you rub your fingers on these leaves, your fingers will smell tart and sweet, like lemons. The leaves are similar in shape to mint leaves, and area part of the same plant family.
Lemon balm may be formulated as a tea, tincture, or cream/ointment. Herbs do interact with other medicines and should not be taken without consulting your wellness practitioner.
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