Monday, June 1, 2009
Getting to know your friendly neighborhood herbs: Lemon Balm
Marisa bought some lemon balm at a local farmer’s market and it seems to be a very strong and beautiful plant. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and its leaves impart a nice lemon favor similar to lemongrass. Like most members of the mint family, lemon balm is considered a weed because of its ability to take over a garden. For this reason it is good to plant it in a pot or a secluded area in your yard. It does well in partial sun but can dry out in full sun exposure. It is also best used fresh as it loses a lot of its flavor after it is dried. What can you use it for?
Insomnia and Anxiety
According to the book “Country Wisdom and Know How” it can be mixed with extract of valerian and used as a sleep aid. Studies have shown it to be as powerful as pharmaceutical sleep medications.
Lemon Balm can be used to make a tea. Today the tea is taken to treat colds and flu, lower blood pressure and for insomnia and indigestion. To make the tea, steep one Tablespoon of fresh leaves in a mug of boiling water. For a spicy kick you can add a little ginger or if you prefer your tea sweet add some honey.
Lemon balm can be used a s substitute to recipes that call for lemon grass or lemon zest. You can add it to chicken as you roast it. We have added lemon balm leaves to salads for a nice citrus kick. We will share recipes using lemon balm in the future on this site.
Even if you don’t use it for any of these purposes I think it is a beautiful, dark green plant that would be attractive as ground cover. Find some at your local farmers market and see if you can find other uses for it.