Herb of the Week - Melissa Officinalis
Melissa officinalis or lemon balm is one of my favourite herbs. Like most other members of the mint (Lamiaceae) family, lemon balm will grow and grow in your garden. The plant can be used medicinally before it flowers.
In medicine lemon balm is typically used in two areas - digestion and mental health, not that the two need to be mutually exclusive.
Many digestive complaints are the result of anxiety or depression and for this purpose Melissa is a great herb. When combined with it's relative Mentha piperita (Peppermint) lemon balm can be quite useful for those with upset stomach, flatulence, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition to it's use for digestion, lemon balm also has sedative properties. This makes the herb particularly useful in cases where digestive complaints are making it difficult to sleep (it can also be used for insomnia in general). The sedative oils gently relieve tension and stress reactions, making lemon balm a useful herb for migraines or headaches associated with tension.
Like any herbal medicine, lemon balm may not be right for you. Please check with your Naturopathic Doctor before using this herb.
Thanks for reading!
Dr Kendra Clifford ND
Godfrey, A., Saunders, P., Barlow, K., and Gowan, M. 2012. Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine Volume 1, Botanical Medicine Monographs. CCNM Press. Toronto Canada.
Hoffman, D. 2003. Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press. Rochester Vermont.