I would like to offer up my favorite herbal ally and the most relaxing tea for these tense times. Lemon balm- Melissa officinalis – is an extremely easy plant to grow, in fact, once introduced to a garden lemon balm is reluctant to leave and will readily establish herself for years to come. But I wouldn’t consider it an invasive plant in the same category as English Ivy as lemon balm has the potential to aid us in some of the most taxing ailments: stress and depression. Apart from being a common plant, this herb is also very safe for adults, children, even during pregnancy- though expecting mothers should do their own research and/or check with their midwife or doctor before adding any ow lemon balm has helped menew herb to their regiment.
The best way to prepare lemon balm is in an infusion of the fresh herb – the leaves, stalks and even the flowers can be used. For this reason any home garden should include lemon balm – even if your home garden is just a few pots on a balcony. Take a fresh sprig of several leaves and combine with one liter of hot water just slightly below boiling temperature and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. It is important to never boil lemon balm as all the aromatic properties are lots when heated to that extent. Alternatively you could do a cold infusion witht he same poportions. This process is similar to a sun tea though I feel it is slightly less medicinal than the hot infusion, it would be a welcome beverage for a picnic or warm weather get-together.
How lemon balm has helped me:
Even before covid, stress, depression, and feelings of isolation were common issues in my life – like so many others. Conventional medicine just didn’t solve any of these issues for me and several years ago I began learning about herbalism and the alternative solution this field of medicine has to offer. When we are talking about depression and stress, one’s background and lifestyle must be considired. I am by no means the only person in my family who tend towards a combination of depression and stress and also living in a different continent than my family is certainly a factor for my feelings of lonliness. And very likely my homesickness will never be “cured” so long as I live so isolated from my family but lemon balm has helped a great deal, I would go so far to say that this herb has changed my life and outlook entirely.
In my experience the key to working with herbs to manage depression is to be preemptive about the treatment. That is, before I am in the depths of sadness or anxiety or when I have just a hint of anxiety, my lemon balm treatment of drinking a cup or two of warm lemon balm tea must be a daily habit. And during these times of constant changes and the general feeling of impending doom that we all feel, I would recomend that anyone who tends towards anxiety or depression begin by trying a cup of lemon balm tea after work or at some point in their daily schedule.
Lemon Balm : a super pollinator plant ::
Native and exotic species of bees all love lemon balm blooms. A mature plant can reach 2 feet in height and width when in bloom and can attract hundreds of honey bees, various species of bumblebees, beneficial wasps, flies, and even a few species of butterflies. The painted lady butterfly, for example, depend on lemon balm as a host plant and lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.
An excelent rememdy for the stresses of daily life::
As mentioned previoulsy, lemon balm is renouned for heloing with anxiety and stress. The affects are most notable, as with almost all herbal remedies, when the herb is part of a daily (or every other day) treatment. Lemon balm is considered a safe herb for pretty uch everone, no one has ever overdosed on lemon balm tea so a warm cup of this herb daily, or in moments of stress or anxiety, really cannot hurt.
Just a note though, I am not talking about infusions with the areal parts of the plant (the leaves, stalks, and flowers) and am not suggesting use of the essential oil of lemon balm. **Please do not drink essential oils ever, although some essential oil sales people might recomend this, consuming essential oils is generaly considered unsafe** In a future post I will include some recipes for using essential oils in aroma therapy and in topical massages oils. Sorry to end on such a disclaimer but I just couldnt sleep at night if anyone drank essential oil after reading a post on this blog.
In general, lemon balm tea, is a very safe herb, a mild and effective treatment to stress, anxiety, depression, and even homesickness. So, make yourself a cup of warm lemon balm tea, or plant the herb in your garden and enjoy!