Lemon Balm – Miscellany of the 22 Botanicals

IN

Chamomile, lime blossom, and lemon balm can all be used by a herbalist for anxious patients.

They are all great after a meal and will all help reduce stress. Mixed together, as a tea they are a powerhouse and all three will help you forget your worries and so you can fall asleep quite nicely.

According to the herbalist, Jekka McVikar the plant will also restore the memory. So if drinking to forget do ensure that you are not drinking anything with lemon balm in it. Although, I’m sure there is a level of intake that will counter anything lemon balm will throw at your memory.

Other medicinal uses for Lemon Balm

Under closer scrutiny lemon balm seems to something of a wonder herb. The University of Maryland Medical Center  list it as one of the herbs, along with green tea (Camellia sinesis L.), that will help those suffering from Graves disease.  Two teaspoons taken in tea three times a day should help normalize an overactive thyroid. It works by slowing the pituitary function, lowering TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels which will reduce the thyroid hormone levels.

Lemon balm is also used as an effective treatment against the herpes virus and various studies cite its efficacy especially in the early stages of infection. Which is, of course, good news for habitual cold sore sufferers like Victoria Beckham.

Over in Iran between 2000 and 2002 some very interesting research was undertaken, treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease with lemon balm. Patients aged 65-80 with mild to  moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given 60 drops of lemon balm tincture a day over a four month period. To quote the study,  “The results of this study suggest that Melissa officinalis extract has efficacy in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It also has a beneficial effect on the agitation experienced by patients with this disease, and so may well prove to be a novel natural treatment”.

Botanist and tonic with lemon balm garnish

Of all the herbs growing in my back garden lemon balm has to be the one that needs the least care.

Grow your own

Of all the herbs growing in my back garden lemon balm has to be the one that needs the least care. It sits in some badly draining soil, never gets watered is never protected over the winter and tends to get hacked right back once or twice a year if I remember. She is also the one herb that I harvest the most from and she keeps on giving. Thankfully, I treat my partner better than I do my herbs or I’d have been single for some time.

There is one word of warning about lemon balm, though, it can be prolific. My patch is kept at bay by the surrounding yarrow and sage. However, I do have cut back at the mosaic of roots that seem come from every angle. I also try and cut it back after it flowers as it will self-seed all over the place. From experience, it has travelled 20 meters up the hill and seeded between concrete slabs.

Lemon Balm and rocket pesto

Once you have some lemon balm growing you’ll never be short of it therefore, it is certainly worth looking into some simple recipes to make the most of it. This one for lemon balm pesto make for a fresh tasting but tangy pesto, something to liven your pasta or add a spot of something to Mediterranean food.

  • 50g hazelnuts chopped and roasted
  • 50g lemon balm
  • 30g wild rocket
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 150ml Olive oil
  • 50g Parmesan
  • season to taste

Combine all but the cheese and oil in a blender and whizz up. Once you have a good paste start to pour in the oil and pulse your pesto. Grate in the parmesan and pulse for a bit until blended then add seasoning if required. Give it a taste and perhaps add more oil if it’s too solid, you could also add lemon, lime juice to taste or even a spot of Lemon balm-ade!

Lemon balm-ade

My niece and nephew are confirmed coke heads, they love nothing more than a few glasses of the fizzy, sugary drink. Fuelled mainly more by the lack of fizzy drinks (other than tonic water), I decided to treat them to something very different and something that was sugar-free and additive free too.

  • Two handfuls of washed lemon balm leaves
  • 2 nitrous oxide canisters (8g)
  • 1 Carbon dioxide canister (8g)
  • 500ml water
  • Strainer

Stuff a cream whipper or infuser with lemon balm leaves and top up with water. Seal and blast with two N20 canisters. This will infuse the lemon balm into the water and it can then be strained into bottles or straight into a glass.

It will be a little fizzy if drunk immediately. However, for longer lasting bubbles you may want to add a blast of CO2.

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