Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an easy to grow herb that not only attracts bees to the garden, but is also a great anti-viral with relaxing properties that are helpful for soothing frayed nerves and calming hyper children.
Traditionally, it’s been used to gently treat colic and upset stomach in everyone from infants to elders. A leaf can be chewed to freshen the breath or crushed and placed on a bug bite to help ease the itch.
If you’ve ever planted lemon balm, you know how one tiny plant can quickly take over a large portion of your garden!
Fortunately, lemon balm has many uses and today, I’m sharing over a dozen things to do with this prolific little gem.
Note: If you’re on thyroid medication, or are pregnant, nursing, or have any other questions or concerns, talk with a qualified health professional before using lemon balm medicinally.
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12+ Things to Do With Lemon Balm:
1. Make a sleepy time herbal syrup:
This is a delicious way to calm and relax everyone from children to adults!
- Place about 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves into a small pot and add enough water to just cover the leaves.
- Simmer, covered partially, until the liquid is reduced in half.
- Strain out & compost the leaves.
- While still quite warm, measure out about 1/2 cup of the concentrated tea and stir 1/4 cup raw honey into it.
- Add more honey to taste, if you wish.
- Store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
- Dose by the spoonful at night to help calm and relax. (Honey should not be used with children under 1 year old.)
Note: You can make larger or smaller batches – keeping a ratio of about 2 parts lemon balm infusion to 1 part honey.
2. Make a lemon balm bug spray:
I’ve tried a lot of homemade bug spray recipes and this is my favorite one.
The best part is that it’s yet another way to help use up some of my abundance of lemon balm and other herbs!
You can find the full recipe and how to make it in my blog post, Lemon Balm Bug Spray.
3. Chop fresh leaves and sprinkle on salads or in baked goods:
Drizzle the salads with honey or a dressing made of yogurt and honey.
Try adding finely chopped leaves (1 to 2 TBSP) and lemon zest (a pinch) to your favorite scone or muffin recipe.
Related: Fresh leaves can also be frozen in ice cubes to dress up a summer beverage.
4. Make a lip balm for cold sores:
This lip balm recipe was designed especially for my son who developed cold sores triggered by sunshine when he was young.
It cleared his cold sores up within a few months and they stayed away!
You can find the full recipe and how to make it in my blog post, Super Healing Cold Sore Lip Balm.
5. Make a glycerite:
Glycerites are a sweet way to dose herbal medicine without the alcohol that regular tinctures contain. Herbal infused glycerin can also be used as an ingredient in lotions, toners and aftershave recipes.
To make a lemon balm glycerite:
- Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves.
- Cover with a mixture of 3 parts vegetable glycerine to 1 part water.
- Cap and let this sit in a dark place for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Dose is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed to relax and calm.
- Store in your refrigerator for several months.
(Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs.)
6. Make a relaxing, tummy soothing tea:
Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves.
Pour simmering hot water into the jar then cover the top with a saucer so that none of the vapors escape.
Let steep until cool enough to drink. Sweeten to taste & enjoy!
7. Make lemon balm soap:
This soap recipe is made with lemon balm tea and naturally scented with lemongrass.
It’s a perfect way to use up some extra lemon balm from your garden!
You can find the full recipe in my blog post, Lemon Balm Soap.
HERBAL SALVES & BALMS
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8. Make a simple remedy for bug bites & acne:
Moisten a pinch of cosmetic clay with lemon balm tea.
Dab on blemishes and bug bites as needed.
Allow to air dry and keep it on your skin as long as possible to help soothe the itchiness and inflammation.
9. Make a relaxing bath:
Fill a bath bag with lemon balm leaves and rose petals.
Hang from the spigot and let the water run through as the tub fills.
For even more relaxation, try throwing a cup of Epsom salt into the tub as well.
(No bath bags handy? Try a thin white sock with a knot tied at the top.)
10. Make a ginger & lemon balm cold syrup:
This Ginger & Lemon Balm Syrup is a ramped up version of a basic ginger syrup, with lemon balm added for its extra antiviral properties.
It’s so easy to make, your kids can help!
Stash it in the refrigerator for around 2 weeks and take whenever you’ve been around germy people, feel a little run down or think you might be catching something.
You can find the full recipe and how to make it at my blog post, Ginger & Lemon Balm Cold & Flu Syrup.
11. Make a lemon balm tincture:
This is a great stomach soothing, anti-viral concoction, perfect to take when you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or bug.
To make a lemon balm tincture:
- Add fresh lemon balm leaves to a jar until about three-quarters filled. (Or fill a jar about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way with dried lemon balm leaves.)
- Pour in 80 proof or higher alcohol (like vodka) until the jar is filled.
- Cap with a non-metallic lid and store in a cool, dark place for about 4 to 6 weeks, shaking periodically.
- Strain and store for at least a year.
- Adult dose is 1/4 teaspoon (about 1 dropperful or 1 ml) at a time, as needed.
- I usually mix with equal parts honey for better patient compliance.
Lemon Balm is also a star ingredient in my trusted Favorite Cold & Flu Tincture.
12. Make a lemon balm vinegar:
Lemon balm vinegar can be used as a hair rinse, added to your bath water, or used to add extra flavor to salad dressings.
You could also use it in an oxymel remedy. (Oxymels are sweet and sour herbal syrups – learn how to make those HERE.)
To make lemon balm vinegar:
- Fill a jar about 3/4 full with fresh leaves.
- Cover with apple cider vinegar.
- Cap with a non-metallic lid and let steep in a cool dark place for a few weeks.
- Strain and use.
- Shelf life should be at least 9 months to 1 year+.
13. Make candied lemon balm leaves:
This is a favorite kid activity around here!
To make: Beat an egg white with a tiny bit of water. Dip lemon balm leaves in the mixture, then dip in sugar. Lay the coated leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven until the leaves look dry, but not browned. Check after 20 minutes and every 5 to 10 after that.
14. Make lemon balm & honey butter:
Mix half a stick (4 tablespoons) of softened butter with a pinch of finely chopped lemon balm. Add a drizzle of honey to taste.
Yummy on hot fresh bread or biscuits!
15. Make an herbal water:
This subtly flavored water is so refreshing on a hot summer day!
To make lemon balm water:
Fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves and a thinly sliced lemon. Pour in cold water until it reaches the top. Refrigerate for several hours.