What is Lemon Balm?
Lemon balm, sometimes referred to as balm mint is an incredible herb that’s a known to have many health benefits as well as uses.
The plant grows to about 150 cm, and in the summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear on the plant.
Confusing it with the bee balm plant is easy.
One of the ways you will be able to tell them apart is the mild lemon scent that the lemon balm plant has.
Here we are going to tell you how the plant is grown, its uses, benefits, how to extract it and how to consume it and its side effects.
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea has plenty of health benefits which we will be discussing all throughout this article.
Apart from the health benefits, it refreshes your taste buds and acts as a mood booster at the end of a long, tiring day.
Lemon balm tea can be used throughout the year and is specially used at night to help with sleeping issues.
Lemon balm tea can also be used for indigestion as well as wounds. The tea can be steeped by using 1 tbsp of lemon balm tea into hot water.
You can also use organic honey to add added benefits and uses.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
Growing lemon balm is easy. The plant can survive under most conditions, but it thrives better in fertile, well-drained soil under the full sun.
It doesn’t even need to be fertilized because experts believe that if you fertilize it, the scent reduces.
An easy method to start growing the plant is to grow it from packaged seeds, or you can merely buy seedlings.
The plant also propagates easily from seeds, but if you plant it indoors, you won’t see it set seeds.
It’s advisable to discard it once it starts to flower because the potency and taste of the leaves reduce once it begins to bloom.
Also Read: 101 Black Seed Oil Benefits and Uses
How to Plant Lemon Balm
It’s advisable to start the process 6-8 weeks before transplanting it to an outside garden.
You don’t have to cover the seeds with soil completely.
In fact, you should barely cover them and keep watering them with just enough water.
The seeds will germinate within 10-14 days, and at that point, they will be ready to transplant the seedlings into the garden.
Their location in the garden should be in the area where they won’t be directly under the midday sun.
The plant thrives better under much cooler conditions in the garden, meaning it should be partially exposed to the sun.
When Should You Harvest?
Consider harvesting it throughout the summer or on a need by need basis rather than collecting it and storing it for later use.
This is because when lemon mint is stored or dried, it loses its flavor and its aroma.
Can You Grow Lemon Balm Indoors?
Absolutely. Lemon balm smells nice, and it also adds a splash of green to your home.
The smell of lemon has been known to improve moods.
Since it’s not exactly a seasonal plant, you’ll be able to enjoy its beautiful aroma throughout the year.
The perfect place for growing lemon balm indoors is inside a large container that drains.
Any decent potting soil should work well for the plant. Regularly water the plant but be careful not to overwater it.
Identify an area in your house where the plant will receive plenty of sunshine.
Taking care of the plant as it grows is very easy, but you always have to monitor it and pluck out any flowers once you see a sign of flowering.
As mentioned earlier, flowering reduces the aroma of lemon balm.
Is Lemon Balm Invasive?
The short answer is yes. It can be very invasive especially in a garden outside.
Most people think that the plant spreads in a garden because of its roots, but that’s not true.
It’s invasive because of its seeds. They are easily transferred from one area of the garden to another by insects like bees.
And since the seeds don’t even need to be covered by soil to germinate, they can easily take over your garden.
The good news is that you can safely grow them indoors without worrying that it will take over your house by regularly picking flowers once the plants start to flower.
Also Read: 18 Powerful Castor Oil Benefits and Uses
You can start harvesting the leaves as soon as the plant has grown enough to start putting out healthy new growth.
However, you should always keep in mind that you should never harvest more than 25% of the plant’s leaves at any one time.
If you spot brown leaves on the plant, it could mean that you were exposing the plant to too much sun, too much water or too much cold air.
Like most plants, lemon balm can be infested by whitefly, scale, mealybugs and aphids.
The sooner you identify the infestation and treat it with the least toxic option, the better the chances are that the plant will recover.
Lemon Balm Benefits
Lemon balm as extensive benefits that can be used throughout the year. What makes this natural heb special is its ability to be effective yet be completely natural.
Lemon balm benefits are great for any person who wants a natural approach to health and wellness.
Below you can find the list of Lemon Balm Benefits
Lemon Balm for Cold Sores
Many studies have shown that lemon balm has antiviral properties and is useful in treating cold sores which are caused by the herpes virus.
Applying lemon balm based creams has been shown to bring positive results especially when it comes to coping with oral and genital herpes.
In fact, it’s been proven that using lemon balm that contains 1% lemon extract reduces healing time by a considerable percentage.
Lemon Balm for Dementia
In 2003, a study was carried out at Northumbria University, and researchers found that subjects who took lemon balm scored better in memory tests than those who did not.
Research has also shown that the use of lemon balm significantly reduces agitation caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon Balm for Anxiety and Insomnia
Sleeping problems and anxiety have become a widespread problem thanks to all the multitasking and stress that people have to cope with in this day and age.
According to research, lemon balm has been shown to help cope with these two problems.
In fact, it works well when combined with chamomile. Chamomile is known to have sedative effects, and when it is mixed with lemon balm, which helps the body relax, the result is better sleep.
In addition, chamomile does not react with alcohol considering it’s always advised that you should never take sleeping pills with alcohol.
Lemon Balm helps Cope with Side Effects Caused by Radiation
People undergoing cancer treatment, for example, usually have to go through chemotherapy and the side effects can be very unpleasant and painful to cope with.
Lemon balm helps to counter the effects of radiation from chemotherapy.
A recent study revealed that patients who used lemon balm during their chemo treatment suffered less damage to their plasma DNA.
Lemon Balm for Digestive Health
Lemon balm has been used for years to treat indigestion and other stomach problems.
It helps with bloating and soothing of the gastrointestinal tract.
It works well when combined with peppermint to alleviate heartburn.
It’s also used commercial drugs used to treat colic, flatulence and an upset stomach.
Lemon Balm for Muscle Aches and Pain
When we get the flu sometimes, it comes with muscle aches and pains.
However, the antispasmodic action of lemon balm helps to alleviate the pain.
Lemon balm increases are sweating especially when you have a fever, and this is good for the body because sweating helps to get rid of toxins.
Lemon Balm Acts as an Antioxidant
We get exposed to all sorts of harmful radicals every day, which can be detrimental to our health.
Antioxidants help to get rid of these harmful radicals, and lemon balm contains plenty of antioxidants.
Lemon Balm Boosts Your Immunity Level
Lemon balm has components such as rosmarinic acids and caffeic all of which have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Using lemon balm on a regular basis boosts your body’s immunity and thwarts away minor infections.
Lemon Balm Boosts the Health of Your Skin
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, lemon balm can do wonders for your skin because it contains active natural astringents.
It also helps to treat skin inflammation and cleansing clogged pores.
Lemon Balm for Mouth Infections
Lemon balm is useful in treating oral infections, bad breath, and bleeding gums.
All you have to is add a few drops of lemon balm essential oil into your mouthwash and gargle it to kill bacteria associated with bad breath and oral infections.
Lemon Balm to Relax Tensed Nerves
Lemon balm is a mild sedative and can help you relax when you’re feeling tense.
You can soak in a bath infused with lemon balm or add a tincture to it to help you relax after a long day at work.
Culinary Use of Lemon Balm
You can use lemon balm leaves in salads. They add a lot of flavor and aroma to any salad.
You can combine it with mint to prepare meat dishes.
You can also mix it with other herbs such as chervil, parsley, black pepper and thyme to make various dishes.
And finally, you can opt to mix it with sorbets or fruit juice to create a minty, flavorful drink.
Lemon Balm Keeps Pests and Bugs at Bay
We spend a lot of money buying OTC repellent products to kill bugs in our homes.
Unfortunately, most of these products contain chemicals and allergens that can cause respiratory issues for some people.
Lemon balm is a natural bug repellent that contains citronella.
All you have to do is spray lemon balm tincture to indoor plants and those in the garden.
Lemon Balm for Air Freshener
You can boil fresh leaves in water and spray the liquid in rooms to spread that minty-lemony aroma.
How to Make Lemon Balm Extract
Preparing lemon balm extract is easy, and it’s a great way to preserve the plant’s scent and medicinal benefits.
Before we tell you how to make a lemon balm extract, you first have to understand what an extract is.
By definition, an extract is a concentrated liquid made by extracting the constituents of a herb using vinegar, water, glycerin or any other non-alcoholic solution.
The difference between an extract and a tincture is the amount of herb infused in the non-alcoholic solution.
A tincture is three parts water to 1 part herb while an extract is 1 part herb and 1 part water.
To make lemon balm extract, you will need glycerin. The reason as to why glycerin is the best solution to use is because it has a high boiling point, it’s viscous, odorless, colorless and water soluble.
It is also non-toxic and has a low glycemic index.
This makes it an ideal solution given that the extract won’t be contaminated with any toxic agents.
To make the extract, you will need:
- Glass container
- Vegetable glycerin
- Boiling water
- Fresh or dried lemon balm leaves
Step by Step:
Fill the glass container within a few inches to the top with fresh lemon balm leaves. If you are using a glass container, you only need to fill the container to around two thirds.
Boil a cup of water and pour it on the leaves.
Add the vegetable glycerin up to a few inches of the top of the glass container. Cover the container with a lid.
To prevent the container from breaking, place it in a crock pot with a towel underneath. Next, fill the crockpot with water and turn it on to minimum heat. Do not cover the crock pot because this will raise the temperature and we want to maintain a low temperature.
Stir the mixture once a day every day to ensure the lemon balm leaves release their compounds.
Continue adding water to the mixture for three days. This is to ensure the level of water is maintained throughout.
After three days, strain the contents of the glass container into a bowl using a cloth. Make sure you squeeze every drop by wringing the cloth.
Transfer the extract into a dark container and store it in a cool dark place. If stored properly, the extract will remain viable for even three years. We, however, recommend that you store it in the fridge to prevent bacterial contamination.
How to Make Lemon Balm Oil
You can make it using either fresh or dried leaves. There are two ways of making lemon balm oil:
The Soaking Method
This method takes a while, but the results are usually satisfactory. To soak the leaves, you will need:
- Dried or fresh leaves. If you decide to use fresh leaves, make sure they do not have any moisture. This is because moisture can attract mold and ruin your preparation.
- Organic oils such as jojoba, almond or olive oil. You can use a neutral oil like canola oil, but the results won’t be as great.
- A food processor or a blender.
- A clean jar
Step by Step Process
Add the lemon balm leaves into the blender and cover them with oil. Blend until you get a pesto-like texture.
This makes it much easier for the lemon balm’s active compounds to be better absorbed by the oil.
Pour the mixture into a dry glass jar and ensure the leaves are well covered with oil.
Seal the container will a non-metallic lid and store it in a cool, dry place.
After at least a month, strain the liquid using a muslin cloth into a glass jar. It’s now ready for use.
After you’ve blended the leaves with oil, pour the mixture into a bowl and place it in a saucepan that’s half filled with water over minimum heat. Remember to use a pan where the container can fit snugly, and it shouldn’t touch the water.
Let the mixture simmer for about eight hours and still monitor the heat of the oil, making sure it’s always at 110F.
Don’t leave the mixture unattended to for those eight hours.
After eight hours, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Strain it into a glass jar in a calm and dry place. This mixture can last up to three years. When refrigerated.
How to Consume Lemon Balm
Sprinkle freshly chopped leaves on fruit salad and drizzle of honey or a mix of yogurt and honey.
Make Soothing Tea
Pour hot water into a jar full of lemon balm leaves and cover with a lid to prevent any vapor from escaping.
Let it steep for about half an hour or at least until it cools down and adds a sweetener of your choice.
Use it in a Muffin Recipe
Add a pinch of lemon zest and 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped lemon balm leaves to your muffin recipe.
Make a Vinegar
Fill a jar that’s three-quarters full with lemon balm leaves with apple cider vinegar.
Seal with a non-metallic lid and store in a cool dark place for two to three weeks.
Strain the liquid and use it in your bath or to rinse your hair. You can also use it as a salad dressing or add it to food dishes.
Make Lemon Balm and Honey Butter
Mix a pinch of finely chopped lemon balm leaves with four tablespoons of butter and apply it to hot fresh biscuits or bread.
Make Candied Lemon Balm Leaves
Take one egg white and beat it with a little bit of water.
Dip lemon balm leaves into the mixture and then dip them in sugar.
Line them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in a 200 degree F oven for an about five minutes or at least until they look dry.
Keep checking on them every 5-10 minutes until they become crispy.
Make Herbal Water
Pour in cold water in a jar full of lemon balm leaves and a slice of lemon. Refrigerate overnight.
Factors to Consider Before Using Lemon Balm
- It Might Interact with Certain Drugs
As with the use of any other herbs, you should always consult your doctor if you are on any medication before using herbs.
If, for example, you are already taking sleeping pills, you shouldn’t drink lemon balm tea because it already has sedative properties.
- Not Ideal for Glaucoma Patients
According to studies, the use of lemon balm can cause eye pressure to increase.
Although the studies were carried out on animals, it is better to avoid using lemon balm.
Additionally, the use of lemon balm can interfere with any drugs you are taking for glaucoma.
- Not Ideal if You’re Going for Surgery
This is because lemon balm is a mild sedative and taking it before surgery or while recuperating from surgery can prolong sleep.
Keep in mind that during and after surgery, your body will have general sedatives and taking lemon balm may have undesired consequences.
- Allergic Reactions
While it’s very rare for someone to be allergic to lemon balm, there is still a percentage of people who might be allergic to it.
Some allergic reactions include vomiting, dizziness, and nausea. These reactions usually occur when someone takes large amounts of lemon balm.
- It Might not be Suitable for Pregnant Women
Although it has traditionally been used to treat morning sickness, studies are yet to establish whether lemon balm is safe to use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Because of this reason, it’s advisable to avoid consuming the herb.
Lemon balm has plenty of health benefits but it should not be taken in large amounts, and you should always talk to your doctor before trying out a new herb especially if you are considering any form of medication.
We would love to know how you plan to use lemon balm if you haven’t started already.
And if you have, how are you currently using it?