Ingredient Spotlight: Is Lemon Balm the Elixir of Life?

Ingredient Spotlight: Is Lemon Balm the Elixir of Life?

In our Ingredient Spotlight series, we take a deep dive into our powerful plant-based ingredients.

 

There is a sweet smelling leaf that is synonymous with immortality and known for its power to bring calm and balance to the body—that leaf is lemon balm.

What Is Lemon Balm?

Lemon balm is a common kitchen herb. Once native to the Mediterranean, it now grows around the world in temperate soils. It’s a member of the peppermint family that smells and tastes lightly of both mint and lemon. Any gardener would love lemon balm; for it’s taste, it’s medicinal benefits, and because bees love it.

The Mythology of Bees & Lemon Balm

Bees and lemon balm are somewhat intertwined in their mythology. A colloquial name for lemon balm is “bee balm,” and the botanical name for lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, comes from the Greek word “melissa,” meaning “honeybee.” 

In Greek mythology, Melissa was the nymph who discovered Zeus and nursed him with honey, supposedly giving him the power to become an immortal god. Ever since then, honeybees have been associated with immortality. The 13th century Welsh Prince Llewelyn ,who lived to be 108, and the English John Hussey, who lived to be 116, both drank lemon balm tea each morning and swore by it as the secret to longevity.

Throughout history, Melissa officinalis has been concocted into herbal remedies and daily tonics to restore health, and some have even called it “the elixir of life.” It’s been used in spells to heal broken hearts, and it’s properties are considered to be both spiritual and emotional in nature.

How Lemon Balm Helps Fight Stress and Promote Sleep

As an anti-inflammatory and a gentle nervine, lemon balm does affect the emotions, via the nervous system. Studies have shown that it is effective for relieving anxiety and stress, as well as promoting sleep. Lemon balm has natural volatile essential oils, which contain terpenes like citral, citronellol, and linalool. Terpenes are plant compounds that are proven to affect the human body, with many providing soothing and mood-lifting benefits

We can enjoy the benefits of terpenes just by inhaling them, which is a great case for using lemon balm essential oil for some simple aromatherapy. You can also take lemon balm internally to help with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Our HOLISTIK stress STIK takes the properties of CBD and enhances them with the power of soothing and relaxing lemon balm.

Another great way to incorporate lemon balm into your self-care or pre-bedtime  routine is to take a leaf out of Alison Wu’s book and mix it with chamomile, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and cinnamon to make a stress-busting, mood-boosting herbal tea. Or spray a bit of this lemon balm hydrosol around whenever you need a bit of a lift.

Lemon Balm Is Healing and Balancing

In addition to its anti-stress and calming qualities, lemon balm is a great all-around healer, immune-booster, and energetic balancer. It is a known antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral herb and is suspected to help manage herpes and other viral infections. In ancient Greece, healers would crush lemon balm leaves with wine to make a healing poultice for wounds and sores.

In Germany, lemon balm is a commonly prescribed medicinal tea for sleep disorders and gastrointestinal disorders. Lemon balm tea is well known for its ability to ease an upset stomach and reduce bloating. It is generally a great supportive herb for the digestive system, the immune system, and the nervous system.

Lemon balm has a long history of medicinal use, both taken internally, applied externally, or simply inhaled. We love using the fresh leaves in salads or blitzed into a bright and unexpected pesto. The dried leaves are perfect for making tea or baking into cookies, and these lavender lemon balm popsicles look like a great idea for keeping calm on a hot and stressful day! 

Whether you’re enjoying lemon balm aromatherapy, incorporating lemon balm tea into your daily self-care routine, or growing it in your garden—this humble herb offers powerful health benefits to keep you calm, balanced, and thriving.

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