Lemon Balm, like so many other famous healers, comes from the mint family. It has a citrusy scent and flavor that lends it just as easily to culinary applications as it does to medicinal and magickal ones. In fact, lemon balm is one of my children’s favorite herbs to infuse into honey. (Learn how to make an herbal infused honey.)
Any herb or plant which is given the name “officinalis” is recognized as having significant medicinal benefits. Of course, ancient herbalists knew of its value long before binomials proclaimed it. Dioscorides, Cupeper, Virgil, Pliney the Elder, and Hildegard von Bingen all recorded the virtues of Lemon Balm in their works. Germany’s Commission E suggests the herb for nervous disturbances. It has also successfully been used for menstrual cramping and infections, whether viral, fungal, or bacterial. The extract is especially effective against cold sores.
Lemon Balm was widely used in the Middle Ages and many herbalists called it the “elixir of life”. Charlemagne ordered that it be planted in every monastery garden because he loved its calming effects so much.
In Europe, lemon balm was used to freshen the floors in rooms and was often strewn between pews in churches to keep the air smelling fresh and clean. This was common all the way until the 1800s. It was introduced to North America by early colonists and it was one of the herbs which were cultivated and grown in Thomas Jefferson’s garden. Lemon Balm was predominantly used to make tea, attract bees and in potpourri. It was also used to substitute lemons in jams and jellies.
Legend has it that Louis XIV had a physician who really believed that lemon balm was the elixir of life. He tried out his theory on an older chicken which had stopped laying. According to his records, after giving the bird the lemon balm tonic for a few days, it grew shiny new feathers and started laying eggs again. There was even a Welsh prince who reportedly lived to 108 and believed this was because he drank at least one cup of lemon balm tea a day.
Other Names: Melissa, Bee Balm, cure-all, dropsy plant, honey plant, Melissa folium, sweet balm, and sweet Mary
Composition: Lemon balm refers to the fresh or dried leaf of the plant, which is rich in essential oil.
Methods of Administration: tea, tincture, herbal honey, salve, ointment
Culinary Uses for Lemon Balm
Desserts: Given its sweet, citrusy flavor, fresh lemon balm and lemon balm extract are used most commonly in desserts like lemon tea cookies and lemon poppyseed loaf.
Tea: Make a lemon balm tea, or infuse simple syrup with lemon balm and add to your next batch of iced tea.
Salads: Lemon balm leaves are a great addition to fruit or vegetable salads.
Vinaigrettes: Use lemon balm in a quick, lemony dressing made with olive oil and vinegar.
Seafood: Garnish seafood dishes with freshly choppy lemon balm.
Sauces and soups: Lemon balm can also act as a substitute for lemon peel in dishes like sauces and soups.
Needless to say, this is one herb that has more than earned a spot in my witchy garden and would hold a treasured place in my apothecary even if I couldn’t grow it on my own.
- appetite stimulant
- digestive aid
- abdominal distension
- gastric complaints
- Graves disease
- herpes labialis (cold sores)
- insect bites
- menstrual cramping
- nervous disturbances
- skin irritations
Contraindications, Side Effects, and Interactions
- Lemon Balm is contraindicated for people with hypothyroidism.
- Tea: 2-4 g herb per 8 ounces of water
- Tincture: 2-6 mL of a 1:5 in 45% alcohol (how to make a tincture)
- Cream/ointment: Apply 1% of a 70:1 lyophilized aqueous extract topically up to 14 days
Magickal Associations and Correspondences
Deities: Artemis, Aphrodite, Diana, Moon Goddesses
Zodiac: Cancer, Leo and Pisces
Crystals: Amethyst, Rose Quartz, and Moonstone
- Use in love spells for attracting love and healing broken hearts.
- Use as a ritual bath, drink as an infusion, or add it to a balm to invoke calming and soothing energies.
- Add dried lemon balm leaves to love sachets and amulets.
- Cement bonds of friendship by steeping lemon balm in wine for a few hours and then sharing a glass.
- Hanging lemon balm in the home ensures that you will stay true to your individual path.
- Invite love into your home and your life by hanging lemon balm near doorways and windows.
- Use lemon balm in healing magick and sachets.
- Lemon balm is a suitable altar herb and offering for the goddess Diana.
- Lemon balm is useful in moon magick.
- To manifest your dreams, write your desires on a piece of paper and then wrap the piece of paper and some dried lemon balm in a piece of fabric that you carry on your person until your desire becomes a reality.
- To combat anxiety, keep a sachet filled with dried lemon balm with you.
- To purify your home or tools, burn dried lemon balm as a smoke cleansing.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am a not medical professional and everything written here is a product of my own research. Don’t take any advice given here over that of a trained doctor. If you ingest any herbs, always make sure that you’re 100% sure that they’re safe. If you’re pregnant or giving to a child, always consult a doctor before ingesting herbs and plant you aren’t familiar with. Magickal instruction and spells are for personal entertainment purposes only. The desired result/outcome cannot be guaranteed as a result of using any magickal item, and should not be used as a replacement for medical/professional assistance.