Lemon Balm

History::

 

Lemon balm is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean Region and Greece. It belongs to the mint family. Its Greek name is "μελισσόχορτο" (pronounced "melisochorto) means bee herb. It was named thus, because its flowers have a high content of nectar, so bees love it.

During ancient times, it was considered an elixir of youth, and was used by alchemists and priest in various remedies.  It was associated with the worship of goddess Artemis in ancient Greece.

We are informed by Theophrastus and Dioscorides that its medicinal and aromatic properties were well known since ancient times. Dioscorides was using it against snake bites and to promote menstruation.

European women during the middle ages were preparing talismans with lemon balm, and were using them as love charms.

Carmelites (a Christian order) use it since 1611 to produce an alcoholic spirit, called Carmelite Water (eau de melisse des Carmes).

 

Medicinal Properties::

 

Lemon balm is most commonly used as an infusion made out of leaves and flowers. It aims digestion, nourishes, promotes sweating and helps heart function, while having a soothing effect.

An ointment produced by leaves and flowers can help with arthritic pain and healing of wounds

It is also called herb of longevity.

 

In Cooking::

 

Lemon balm flavors meat, poultry, fish, cheese, soups, fruit preparations, spirits and beverages, as well as various teas and infusions.

Since its fragrance is strong and reminiscent of lemon, it can enhance lemon flavor in foods.

Drying in order to use it later has to be done before flowering.


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