Lemon Balm - Best Herb for Digestion

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis Lamiaceae Also called Bee balm


This perennial herb is native to the eastern Mediterranean but now grows wild all over Europe. Its stems are erect and form dense about 70cm high. All parts of lemon balm are hairy and have a strong lemon scent. Its pointed oval leaves have rounded indentations and prominent veins. Lemon balm ~ white or pinkish flowers grow at the point where the leaves join the stem and its fruits are small and brown.


Parts used

  • Leaves
  • After collection in July to September (when flowering begins) the leaves are dried in the open air.
  • Lemon balm is used mainly for infusions or powder capsules. The plant may also be processed to release its essential oil.
  • The plant has a traditional use in liqueurs such as Benedictine.

Constituents

Lemon balm contains flavonoids, tannins and phenol acids, including rosmarinic acid. A small amount of essential oil consisting mainly of citrals is also present and due to the low yield, this is one of the most expensive essential oils sold.


Medicinal uses

Lemon balm is most often prescribed to treat intestinal problems such as sluggish digestion, bloating, belching and flatulence. Experiments have clearly shown the plant's capacity to relieve stomach spasms and aid digestion. In 2001, a German trial found that a herbal preparation containing lemon balm improved the symptoms of dyspepsia.


The plant is also used to treat minor sleep problems as well as nervousness and mild depression. For these purposes it is combined with other plants, such as lime flower, hawthorn and passionflower. A Spanish review published in 2001 also documents the use of lemonbalm for treating attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in infants.


Earlier research has demonstrated the antiviral properties of lemon balm, which is used to treat herpes. The plant also appears to have an effect on the thyroid gland and has been used to treat hyperthyroidism.


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT digestive problems, nervousness, depression, minor sleep problems INFUSION Put 2-3g of dried leaves into 1 cup of boiling water, then strain. Drink a cup at midday and a cup in the evening after food.


CAPSULES (200mg powder) Take 1 capsule, three times a day before meals. Children should take 2 a day.


SOLUBLE EXTRA a Put 50 drops into a glass of water. Take three times a day.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


Cultivation

Planted in moist soil in a sunny or lightly shaded location. Both seed and cuttings can be sown in autumn or spring.


CAUTION

It is best not to use lemon balm over a long period of time (1-3 months) because it may reduce hormonal activity in the sex glands.



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