Keep Calm and Drink Lemon Balm
I have been fighting a seasonal-change cold all week. That irritating itchy throat and the beginnings of a gravelly nasal twang in my voice, and just an overall tinge of "blah". Today I had the blessing of my schedule opening a little midday and the afternoon sun was feeling so good coming through the window that I decided to go out to the backyard herb aisle and see how things were doing. Every thing was looking good, except for the two huge holes where my tomato plants used to be! That dang varmint Riley must have taken then out on one of his night jaunts! :-( I swear I'm going to start gutter-gardening to keep my botanicals out of his reach!
Lemon Balm From the Backyard
I noticed some lemon balm had made its way (again) into the greek oregano. If you are not already aware, lemon balm spreads like wildfire and will gleefully leap curbs and sidewalks to dig its grubby little roots into new territory. I was actually happy to see it because I lost most of this year's "crop" due to nitrogen blasting (again...Riley. Which means he peed on the balm and burned it to the ground. ) So, like I said, I was really happy to see the little nippers. I began pulling it and soon had a pretty big handful. Not really enough to dry but too much to just throw away. (I would NEVER do that! I mean, ok, maybe I have once or twice, or well, heck it grows freaking wild all over the place! Anyway...)
The video at the end of this delightful post from
should fully illustrate the joys of lemon balm! Thank you Deb and a special thanks to YOUR Lemon Balm!
Anyway, back to my measly (what IS the origin of that word?) handful of lemon balm...
I decided to wash it and make a pot of tea since, as I mentioned, the change of seasons had me sniffly. Yes, here in Michigan I like to say Fall is made up of leather jacket mornings and hot-pants afternoons. These abrupt fluctuations always take a toll on my immune system. (Or, maybe I should have been more pre-emptive...I'll have to keep working at that.)
Lemon Balm Willow Sauna
Washed, drained, massaged and popped into their steamy bath, I am looking forward to a soothing lemon balm afternoon. While I am waiting for steepage, I decided to learn more about this member of the mint family and see what I was getting myself into.
From this great little second hand store find, "20,000 Secrets of Tea; The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature's Healing Herbs", I found that the official name is Melissa Officinalis. Melissa in Greek means "Honey Bee". It was once called Cure-All and was popular in potions to preserve youthfulness. So, I will be drink this regularly and watch the hands of time come to grinding halt. Yay!
Other benefits listed:
Antiviral, antibacterial, antidepressant, antihistamine, eases spasms, nervous system tonic, aromatic, digestive stimulant, eases tension in peripheral blood vessels.
Nature's Antihistamine, helps with allergies and asthma, aids respiratory healing, and will help you sweat out the toxins of a cold or flu.
Antidepressant and tonic for the nervous system. Cleansing to kidneys and urinary tract.
Soothes digestive system to relieve spasms, indigestion, gas, and colic. Reduces stress and therefore stress related disorders such as colitis.
It's interesting that this herb is not even mentioned in the "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" at all, and this is one of my main "go-to's" as well. Oversight or trending? Like, maybe she just wasn't that like populerrr back then, like, you know? Or maybe its uses were seen as primarily culinary as indicated in "Mother Nature's Herbal", a book that has a wealth of information I'm sure, but is organized in such an unintuitive way that I find it better bedtime reading that reference. That is why I have found it important to have multiple (credible) information sources.
n the Middles Ages lemon balm was used to soothe tension, to dress wounds, and as a cure for toothache, skin eruptions, mad dog bites, crooked necks, and sickness during pregnancy." (Crooked necks? Is that like when you sleep wrong? Is a "crook" the same as a "crick"?) They list a host of other uses as well including possible aid in dementia and Altheimer's. What I really appreciate about their site is the listing of potential interaction concerns and cautions. Herbs are medicine and must be treated with respect!
I'm now ready to pour one on. It's a pale lemony tea that reminds me of a gentle squeeze of fresh lemon, just a whiff. It's delish hot or cold, but it is known for its cooling properties so its REALLY good iced on hot, steamy days. I take mine without any sweetener but a light sweetener would compliment nicely such as agave, or a light honey, not the heavy raw buckwheat I usually use. To each her own. Enjoy!
PS. You can tincture your lemon balm or make a syrup, I have links below. I read that the leaves would also be good in salad dressings, stuffing, preserves.
Cup O Balm Calm
Woo hoo! Just to underscore why I love what I do so much: In researching this blog post, I came across some more awesome blogs and recipes that feature lemon balm. I'll blog about 'em when I make 'em and in the meantime if YOU make them, please let me know how they worked!