Versatile Lemon Balm

Lemon balm

Description- An upright perennial herb with attractive lemon scented leaves. Leaves are oval and serrated, about an inch long with clusters of pale yellow flowers blooming in late July. The entire plant emits a pronounced lemony scent. Lemon balm is native to southern Europe and North Africa, and grows wild throughout much of America.

Medicinal- Lemon balm was once used as a mild version of Valium in past centuries. As the British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper described it in the 17th century, “lemon balm causes the mind and heart to become merry, and banishes all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind arising from melancholy.” Modern studies have shown the herb does have a sedative effect on the central nervous system of lab mice and rats.

Culinary- Lemon balm’s flavor can best be described as intensely lemon with a slight hint of mint. The leaves are best used fresh in cooking and baking, but dried leaves are best for making teas. The dried leaves produce a mild flavored, lemony tea. For a beverage with full bodied flavor, add the dried leaves to a base of loose black tea. 1/2 teaspoon each of the black tea and lemon balm brewed in 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep, strain and sip.

Aromatic- Lemon balm with its heavenly smell is perfect for potpourris and sachets. Dry the whole leaves and use them in craft projects.

Lemon balm has many other uses. For example:

Bee keepers setting up new hives rub lemon balm leaves inside the hives to encourage the bee colony to stay. Although the flowers of lemon balm attract honeybees, the plant also repels certain insects.

Using fresh leaves, rub down outdoor furniture, picnic areas, toys and other outdoor items.

Blessed be, Sweet Ones.

“She Grows Lemon Balm”

~ Meadow Walker

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