Jess's Top 10 Favorite Ways to Use Lemon Balm
“Lemon balm causeth the heart and mind to become merry.”
—Avicenna, physician and philosopher (970-1037)
I am a huge fan of lemon balm and am on a personal mission is to inspire everyone to grow and use it. A member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, lemon balm has vibrant green heart-shaped leaves with toothed margins and a bright lemony scent and flavor. Lemon balm is sometimes called sweet balm, sweet Mary, Melissa, balm mint, blue balm, gentle balm, honey leaf, honey plant, or heart’s delight. It is one of my very favorite perennials in my garden and I find myself dividing my plants every year to grow more.
I’ve received lots of great questions about lemon balm so I thought I’d share a quick recap on the benefits of lemon balm and my favorite ways to use it:
Rich in vitamins and minerals, lemon balm has many beneficial attributes including antimicrobial, antiviral, and mild antidepressant properties can be used to naturally support those with headaches, digestive issues, nausea, abdominal paint, menstrual cramps, anxiety, and mild depression when ingested as an herbal tea or used in aromatherapy. Medicinally, it is known as the “gladdening herb” for its uplifting qualities. It is used to help sooth anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia and headaches. It contains a potent natural antiviral which can be very helpful during cold and flu season, and helps your body fight infection. When used topically, it naturally supports those with bee and wasp stings and skin conditions such as ulcers, wounds, scratches, scrapes, and cold sores. As a gentle nervine, it is safe to use on children. It can be infused in honey and used as a calming nighttime syrup to calm and rejuvenate the nervous system and promote peaceful sleep in both children and adults. Lemon balm is used to naturally improve memory and concentration and is used to support those with Alzheimer’s disease and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)
Why grow lemon balm yourself? For starters, it is easy to grow and prolific, giving you generous harvests for months. It is very pollinator-friendly and absolutely irresistible to bees. In fact, the genus name of lemon balm, “Melissa” officinalis, originates from the Greek word meaning “honey bee.” Bee keepers often use this plant, not only to provide the fragrant nectar to their bees, but to calm and relax them in order to keep them from swarming and stinging.
In the kitchen, lemon balm can be used to make a delicious and refreshing batch of lemonade or add to other iced drinks. I most enjoy using lemon balm as a garnish for cocktails and salads, and making candied lemon balm chips and decorate cookies with them.
Around the home, lemon balm is a rejuvenating addition to bath bundles and bath soaks, and makes a fragrant addition to floral arrangements. It can also be used to make natural mosquito repellant sprays.
- Add to a flower arrangement for a lovely minty, lemony scent.
- Make candied lemon balm and decorate your favorite sugar cookies with them.
- Make a batch of lavender lemon balm lemonade to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.
- Add a handful of fresh lemon balm stems to an herbal bath bundle to hang from your shower head.
- Whip up a quick bug balm to naturally repel mosquitoes.
- Keep a planter with lemon balm near your outdoor seating area to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
- Brighten up your cocktails and salads with fresh lemon balm garnish.
- Lemon balm is a great child-friendly herb that can aid with sleep. Infuse some lemon balm in honey for a nighttime syrup to help your little ones calm down and get ready for bed.
- Lemon balm tea (hot or iced) can help relieve abdominal pain, nausea, and menstrual cramps. (Add a teaspoon of the lemon balm-infused honey for an extra sweet treat!)
- Add lemon balm, fresh or dried, to your bath tea for a rejuvenating evening soak.