We grow lemon balm in raised beds. Its luscious green leaves have a distinctive lemony scent when rubbed, and if doing a tour, I always encourage people to do so!
I have experienced all types of weather this week - slapping on the sunscreen at the start, to having to wear my jumper and waterproofs by the end. This summer has wreaked havoc on the herbs, and this week in particular has highlighted the effects such inconsistent weather patterns have. Some herbs have thrived in all the rain, whilst others have really struggled, some are only starting to get going, whilst others have flowered early and already gone to seed.
Lemon balm overview and medicinal uses...
Latin name: Melissa officinalis
Parts used: Leaves
Medicinal uses: Lemon balm is affectionatly known as the 'herbal hug' due to its abilities to calm and soothe, as well as to build up, uplift, and strengthen; it is an all round tonic. Lemon balm is high in vitamin C (immune boosting), as well as thiamine (vitamin B1 - supports nervous system, and mental function, and is essential for carbohydrate metabolism).
Habitat and cultivation: Lemon balm is relatively easy to grow, and to some, it is considered a weed as it self sows so readily. It can be grown straight in the ground or in a pot, is just as happy in full sun as it is in semi-shade, and loves moist free-draining soil.
You can propagate it by root division, or by soft wood cuttings in either spring or autumn, and also by layering - simply by laying a branch down along the ground and placing a stone on top of it. It is an easily adaptable plant indeed.
Harvest the leaves just before it flowers - this is when the plants energies are at their strongest. The top third of the stem is considered to have the most essential oils, where the plant is at its newest and freshest. Chop the stem and either hang to dry, or dry on trays, or strip off the leaves straight away if using fresh.
Lemon balm 'herbal hug' tea baths...
One of my favourite things, is having a bath. Particularly after a long day of manual labour in the garden. At this time of year, when I can harvest some of the herbs for myself, I use them in my baths as an added luxury.
As lemon balm has such calming properties, and helps with insomnia, it is the perfect thing to do before bed. The smell alone will soothe the senses and calm the mind.
Go on to experiment by using other aromatic herbs such as rosemary, lavender (visually stunning as it makes the water go a purple-blue), sage, or mint. There are endless possibilities, examples include:
Emma is passionate about promoting good health, and likes to keep things simple. She enjoys yoga, meditation & being outdoors, yet likes to indulge in coffee, wine & cake - Everything in moderation!