As I dive deeper into living more and more in harmony with nature, I find myself in a continuous state of awe by the beauty and amazing power of plants. Yes, that’s right. Plants. These tranquil living beings offer to enrich our lives by bringing us valuable life lessons, granting us mystifying healing powers, and gifting the world with an insurmountable amount of beauty. All you have to do is open your eyes and see them for what they are.
If there is any great example of how incredibly powerful a single plant can be on your mind, body, and spirit, it’s the Lemon Balm.
The Lemon Balm, a close relative of the mint family, is a beautiful and fragrant plant that is also very easy to grow and propagate. Like mint, it can be harvested several times a year without damage or stress to the plant, and, in addition to its wonder aroma, it’s also nearly maintenance free. Just set it out in a warm sunny spot in a pot of rich soil with plenty of water to establish itself, and this plant will take off all on its own. And best yet, it’ll come back year after year. Now that’s my kind of plant.
So the lemon balm is easy to maintain, but what else does this plant offer? Why plant it in the first place? Let’s talk spirit. The aroma of the lemon balm wafting through your house on warm sunny days isn’t just pleasant- it’ll also lift your spirits. Literally. Lemon balm is known to be a mood enhancer. But the lemony aroma isn’t just elevating to your soul, it’s also practical. Lemon balms are known deterrents to unwanted gnats and mosquitoes, making it the perfect addition to your patio or walking gardens.
Medicinely, lemon balm is considered a calming herb. According to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, people have been using this healing herb to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic) since the middle ages. Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores.
So how does one harvest and use lemon balm to seek out all the great benefits? If you’re a tea drinker, you can gather the leaves into a herb bundle and hang them to dry upside down in a warm dry environment. Once dry, they can be crumbled into a mason jar and seeped into fresh cozy tea to get you through the winter months.
They can also be concocted into a brew called “Honey Medicine” which is made by simmering the freshly picked leaves in a large pot of water to extract a tea. Honey, which of itself has wonderful medicinal properties, is added to the tea and kept in the refrigerator. It has been said that a couple of teaspoons of this honey medicine in a hot cup of water will help prepare you for a good night's sleep.
Lemon balm plants have been sitting silently in front of us for centuries, offering all it’s benefits to those who can see its amazing wisdom and magic. Open your eyes to the plants around you and do a little research. You might just find you’ve been next to a silent super hero