Your first job, the beginning of the school year, high demands on the professional front… and on top of this, the kids are having a hard time adjusting to their first weeks in kindergarten. All these – and with much more going on – make it a challenging time of the year for many of us. But looking on the bright side, it also brings opportunities to turn new beginnings into personal growth. And the good news is: Lemon Balm is a delightful herb that can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing, offering you the support you need!
Impact of stress on health
An important skill to achieve personal and professional growth and balance, is the ability to cope with stress. From rush hour and traffic jams to exams, unexpected changes, tight deadlines, pressure, various worries, packed schedules, and overwhelming responsibilities – there are plenty of stress factors that you need to deal with on a daily basis.
Both the short and long term destructive effects of stress are well-known: decreased immunity and sleep quality, as well as increased anxiety and faster development of illnesses. Among the first alarming signs that the stress level is high are sleep disorders, high blood pressure, headaches, and digestive issues.
So, in order to improve your resistance to stress, why not turn to nature’s gifts? Did you know that there is a small, fragrant plant which has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation? Lemon Balm (or, Melissa officinalis) is a fragrant medicinal plant that has been long known in the history of herbal medicine for its calming effects.
How does lemon balm help?
Lemon balm is thought to work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA. These neurotransmitters are known to be involved in mood regulation. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to its ability to improve one’s mood. This makes it useful for calming the nervous system, as well as aiding in sleep and fighting anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
According to a study performed on more than twenty persons in Melbourne, Australia, by the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, ”a drink containing 0.3 g of lemon balm and fruit sweetener was associated with a lower state of anxiety and better working memory” and the participants claimed they experienced “improvements in feelings described by the positive items on the state of anxiety scale. These descriptors include ‘calm’, ‘secure’, ‘at ease’, ‘satisfied’, ‘comfortable’, ‘self-confident’, ‘relaxed’, ‘content’, ‘steady’ and ‘pleasant’”.
The Herb Society of America states that “Lemon balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect. Other phytochemicals in lemon balm which may provide antioxidant activity include phenolic acids, terpenes, rosmarinic acid, and caffeic acids. Lemon balm also contains tannins, which are astringent and contribute to lemon balm’s antiviral effects, and eugenol acetate, which is believed to be one of the phytochemicals responsible for lemon balm’s reported antispasmodic effect.”
And considering that we are more vulnerable to catching viruses in the autumn, did you know that lemon balm is among Medical Medium’s Top 9 Herbs and Supplements used against colds and flu?
Grow your own lemon balm
Lemon balm is easy to grow and can be found in most environments. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It’s tolerant of a wide range of soil types but prefers well-drained soil. Lemon balm will spread if left unchecked, so it’s best to plant it in a pot or a container.
Once you have your lemon balm plant, you can start harvesting the leaves. Just cut them off at the stem and dry them for later use. Our special tip: dehydrate the leaves and add them to a potpourri, together with other fragrant plants of your choice. Place it in your room or on your work desk – enjoy the smell and calming effects!
How to use lemon balm
Even though it is related to mint, the leaves have a citrusy scent. Its pleasant fragrance, together with the health benefits, makes it widely used in the food industry – for example in soft drinks, teas, jams, jellies, sauces, as well as appetisers, desserts, and even in main courses.
You can use it fresh or dried and brewed as a tea. Here is a delicious tea recipe that will surely brighten up the blue autumn days:
Lemon balm citrus tea
∙ 1⁄2 cup dried lemon balm leaves, in small pieces
∙ 1⁄4 cup dried mint leaves
∙ 1 tablespoon dried organic lemon zest
∙ 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries lightly crushed
∙ 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
➺ Combine the ingredients – it will make approximately 15 cups of tea. Store unused tea mix in a tightly sealed container in a cool dark place for later use.
Preparation: In a warm teapot, steep 1 heaping teaspoon of tea blend for each cup of boiling water. Steep 5 minutes, then strain, and serve with raw honey.
If you are feeling stressed or down, consider adding lemon balm to your diet or taking a supplement. We recommend the potent Lemon Balm extract from Vimergy – pure and clean, for your mental and physical wellbeing.Remember to talk to your doctor first before you start taking any supplements.