Common name: Melisa, Lemon Balm, Balm, Honey plant.
Botanical name: Melissa officinalis.
Lemon balm is a perennial plant of the mint family, native to center-southern Europe and Mediterranean. It can grow 70-150 cm high, has gentle lemon scent and white little flowers during the summer time (they attract the bees, hence the name Melissa – Greek for honey bee). The leaves can be harvested a couple of times a year, between June and September. It grows vigorously and spreads vegetatively and from seed. Lemon balm is rich in essential oil containing citral, citronelall, geraniol and linalol, tannins and bitters.
Lemon balm has culinary and medicinal use. It is very popular in aromatherapy.
As medicinal plant, lemon balm is used as a carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, hypotensive, diaphoretic. It relives the spasms in gastrointestinal tract; its gentle oils reduce anxiety that arises from stress; it lightens depression and acts as a mild tonic for the heart (dilates the peripheral vessels and lowers blood pressure). Its use is indicated in cases of simultaneous digestive and nervous tension.
Lemon balm extract is identified as potent in vitro inhibitor of GABA transminase. That documents calming effect on the nervous system.