Lemon Balm

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Disclaimer: This data is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to prescribe or treat specific problems. As with any herb or medication, please consult your Doctor of Naturopath or your Medical Doctor before trying anything new.

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"Melissa officinalis"

Lemon Balm is one of my most favorite herbs. It has so many uses, medicinal, culinary, & just down right fun!

Lemon Balm has Sedative properties, as well as diaphoretic, antitryptic, and antispasmodic. The tops are part of this herb that is used. Circulation and nerves are affected by the use of Lemon Balm tops.

An infusion is the most popular method of preparation, but a tincture, fluid extract, or powdered capsules can be used also.

Lemon Balm has been used as a specific in the treatment of children with fever, flu symptoms, & approaching colds. An infusion is made and sweetened with honey and given as hot as the child can drink it (obviously without burning them). The child is then put to bed under heavy blankets so that the fever can break when the child sweats.

Lemon Balm makes for a nice calming tea, soothing to the nerves. It can also be mixed with a little catnip leaf for calming effects as well. Catnip & Lemon Balm Tea was always a biggie at our house during big school test weeks so that my daughter could unwind AFTER studying and get a good nights sleep. It is gentle and works well with no left over tired feelings. She would awake the next morning very refreshed. (I must brag here - my daughter was a straight "A" student her entire high school - and so far 1 1/4 years of college), so I will never discount this tea! :-)

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Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family which is easily seen by its square stem which is characteristic of the mint family.

Lemon Balm grows up to 2 feet high, with oval, toothed leaves. It has dainty little white (sometimes yellowish) flowers which appear in small bunches during the middle of summer. Lemon Balm likes to grow in shady places that have rich, moist soil.

Lemon Balm can be propagated easily by seed, and also by division taken early in the spring. If you are growing from seeds, sprinkle your seeds on top of a well prepared flat of soil. Do not cover seed with dirt. Instead just tamp down the dirt gently and water very carefully. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days this way instead of the traditional 2-3 weeks. Germination temperature of around 70-75 degrees is choice.

In the fall, the plant top will die back. Provide it with some nice winter time mulch for two reasons, one to enhance the soil, and two, to give it a bit of harsh winter protection.

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Drying Lemon Balm

Dry Lemon Balm's fragrant leaves while they are still on their stems, or by gently pulling off the leaves and laying them on cheesecloth or nylon screening. Place in a warm dark, airy place. An airy attic makes a greag drying room for drying this herb.

Light will discolor its beautiful leaves. If you take too long to dry lemon balm, it will cause it to lose its aroma and healing properties. So the trick is not too hot and not too cold for your area to dry them in. Moving air is a must.

It is best to try to dry these leaves in a two day time period.

When dry the leaves are easily removed from the stems. Store in an air tight dark glass container that has a good seal.

Try using the empty stems in your fireplace to add a nice lemony scent to the air as your fire burns.

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Lemon Balm Coffee Cake

1/3 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 oz dry yeast
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup lemon balm, chopped
1 stick margarine
1 tspn vanilla

Filling (Optional):
Two 8 oz. pckgs cream cheese
1 tspn vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 tspn lemon peel

Scald milk. In large bowl add flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon balm, & margarine. Mix with a pastry blender, or cut in with two knives. Add vanilla and 2 eggs to the milk. Blend milk and flour mix until it holds together. Wrap in wax paper & set in refrig for 3 hours. Cream the filling ingredients. When dough has chilled, cut in 2 portions. Roll out each portion into rectangles. Spread each rectangle with filling. Roll up jelly roll style. Repeat for other half of dough. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 35 minutes or until done.

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Marcia Wilson
Journeywoman Herbalist
The Allways Natural Herb Farm
10/21/98

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© 1998- Linda Coffin

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