How to use Lemon Balm (3 recipes!)

Lemon balm is one of the easiest herbs to grow in the garden, and that's a good thing because it is super useful! I have been using lemon balm as tea for many years now and just love the light lemony flavor. It's also used in many lip balm recipes because it is great for fighting cold sores. Today I want to talk about how to use the herb lemon balm.

Large medicinal lemon balm plant

I have been growing lemon balm for about 11 years now. I've had the same plant the whole time, although now it's more like 3 big plants and a dozen or so small ones! Luckily I use lemon balm in both both foods and medicine, because I certainly have enough of it. I tried to get ahead of it this year by completely harvesting the 2 plants that planted themselves in spring, but it wasn't very effective.

I mean I certainly harvested and dried a lot of lemon balm! I used this method to dry it all in my truck, which is perfect if you're harvesting mass quantities...like 2, two foot high plants! This plant grows fairly quickly though, especially as summer hits. Even though I cut them down to the ground, they were full size again in just a few months!

What is Lemon Balm?

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a herbaceous upright perennial that will grow for many years with very little care. It isn't picky about it's soil or watering conditions. It also has a tendency to spread and take over the garden as I discussed in 9 Herbs that want to take over your garden. The main reason it's so good at taking over is the sheer volume of seeds each plant produces.

If you allow it to go to seed, it will spread. There's literally no way you will harvest all the seeds before some fall to the ground. I try to yank the tiny plants in spring, but they just keep sprouting! lol What I should do is just plant my lemon balm in the woods instead of in my garden and just let it spread as much as it wants! I wonder if deer would eat lemon balm?

Lemon balm, basil and catnip are all from the family Lamiaceae (mint family). Members of the mint family and all are pretty well known for their medicinal qualities and this one is no exception.

Lemon Balm is a natural anti-inflammatory, has antiviral properties and is very high in antioxidants. It can be used to soothe the stomach, ease anxiety and stress, reduce the length and severity of a cold sore outbreak and even help with insomnia.

It's one of the ingredients in my Herbal Sleep Tea recipe.

The best part is, lemon balm needs so little care that we can grow it just by tossing some seed in the garden and waiting for rain. We're growing our own medicine without even trying. How convenient is that? 

How to use Lemon Balm medicinally

The easiest way to use lemon balm is to make a tea. This can be done with fresh or dried leaves. Simply add 1 tablespoon dried and crushed lemon balm or 1/4 cup whole fresh leaves. Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over the herb and steep in hot water for about 15 minutes. Strain before drinking.

Lemon Balm Healing Recipes

These 3 recipes are easy to make and can help you to unlock lemon balms useful properties.

Lemon Balm cold sore balm

If you have ever dealt with the embarrassing and annoying effects of a cold sore then you'll love this recipe! Place 4 tablespoons of lemon balm infused jojoba oil into a double boiler. Add 3 tablespoons of beeswax. Add 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey, then heat the ingredients until they begin to melt.

Whisk the mixture until it is blended nicely. Pour the mixture into salve tins or a short, wide jar and store cool dark place. This mixture should last at least one year and can be used the moment that you begin to feel the sensation of a cold sore forming. It will cut down the duration and severity of the cold sore.

Lemon balm salve for cold sores in small tins

Infusing the oil

To infuse the jojoba oil for this recipe I put about 5 tablespoons of jojoba oil in a short Ball jelly jar. Fill it with crushed and dried lemon balm leaves till the oil just barely covers them. You may have to mix or shake it down to get the leaves to sink. You really want to pack this as full as you can get it with leaves. 

Cap the jar and put it in a warm area, shaking daily for 4 weeks. When the time is up, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth and your infused oil is ready to be used in this (or other) recipes.

Lemon Balm sleep syrup

This recipe is a great way to calm and relax everyone from children to adults! All you need to do is take a tea pot and add 1/3 cup of fresh lemon balm leaves and 1 cup of water. 

Boil the mixture on a low heat until about half of the water has evaporated. Allow to cool for a few minutes then strain out the herbs and transfer the liquid to a mason jar. While the tea is still hot, add 4 tablespoons of raw honey. Allow to cool. 

Each dose of this mixture is about a tablespoon. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Take 1 dose before bed to help with sleeplessness.

medicinal Lemon balm tea in pot and glass

Lemon Balm bug spray

Insects can be a nuisance, but this recipe will help you deal with them. Take a half cup of fresh lemon balm leaves and a teaspoon each of Basil, catnip, and mint. Place them in a jar, then fill the jar with witch hazel. Put the cap on the jar and store on a cool dark place for at least one week. 

Once finished, strain the plant matter out and pour the liquid contents into a spray bottle. Add a few drops of basil, citronella and lemongrass essential oils. Shake vigorously. Use this homemade bug repellent to keep away mosquitos, flies and other annoying insects.


Do you use lemon balm in any recipes? What do you make? Let me know in the comments!

Related reading: There are  11 herbs the can be grown indoors in winter, which ones will you grow?

~L

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