Balm mint is often called Melissa and Lemon balm—its botanical name is Melissa officinalis. In English, balm means healing and soothing, which also happens to be the attributes of the herb, according to extensive scientific research.
Melissa is from the Greek signifying honey bee, indicative of the attraction the flowers have for bees on account of the honey they produce. The word balm is an abbreviation of balsam, the chief of sweet-smelling oils.
Balm mint is a favourite plant for bees. Roman author and naturalist, Pliny stated that it is profitable planted in gardens where bees are kept, because they are delighted with this herb above all others and bees would always find their way home again because of it.
As a medicinal herb, it has the following properties:
- Calms the nervous system
- Promotes perspiration
- Reduces fever
- Relieves flatulence or wind
- Settles upset stomachs
Balm mint has antibacterial and sedative actions, and it contains chemicals that fight infection-causing bacteria, as well as an anaesthetic to help relieve pain caused by external force. It is an excellent calming herb, ideal for nervous people, and is useful for migraines, hysteria, melancholia, tension, depression, stress and sleeplessness. Balm mint maintains the health of the digestive tract, and relieves digestive tract spasms, abdominal cramps, dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. It has a toning effect on the circulatory system and counters feverish conditions. Drink a cup of Balm mint tea for sleeplessness or you may try a herb bath before bed.
Many virtues were formerly ascribed to this herb. It is said that John Husseyof Sydenham, who lived to the age of 116, breakfasted for fifty years on Balm tea sweetened with honey. The Roman Emperor Charles drank Carmelite water daily, of which Balm was the chief ingredient.
For painful menstruation and during menopause, a tea made of equal parts of the following herbs is recommended:
- Balm mint
- Lady’s mantle
- Valerian root
Directions: Place the above herbs in an airtight container, mix and shake well, and store the mixture in a dark place.
Infuse one heaped tsp of herbs with one cup of boiling water for approximately three to five minutes and strain. Drink 2–3 cups a day, the first on an empty stomach.