Melissa, a plant that not for nothing has the ancient name of Melissa officinalis: has many beneficial properties to know. Its fresh leaves, flavor salads, soups, meats, dried flowers, are an important ingredient in herbal medicine for decoctions or infusions.
There is much more to discover about this plant which is also widely used by friars and monks in the preparation of recipes, for health and herbs. It belongs to the family of the Labiateae, its best known properties are antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, and it contains precious essential oils.
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Lemon balm: the plant
Perennial herbaceous plant, the Melissa it looks like a bush, its root develops horizontally and the stem can measure from 40 to 120 cm, it is very branched and hairy. The leaves protrude from the stems thanks to a petiole, have an oval shape and a serrated edge, to the touch they are hairy and furrowed with many veins. The variety "Melissa aurea”Has yellow spotted leaves, otherwise the Melissa it always has a bright green color.
The flowers that we often read in the ingredients of herbal teas, dried, are first white and live flowers, in the shape of a bell-shaped goblet, from yellowish to pink with time.
As a plant it grows spontaneously in southern Europe and western Asia, also in Italy, therefore, where it is found along the hedges and in shady areas. Or in the gardens where you decide to grow it, it is not difficult to do so, it also gives satisfactions and useful leaves and flowers.
Lemon balm: healing properties
The antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant are the best known but not the only ones, but they make it an excellent remedy in case of menstrual pain, neuralgia, digestive disorders, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramps and colitis. Let's start from lemon balm leaves, very rich in essential oil responsible for the pleasant aroma and flavor of lemon. They are very useful during states of anxiety when it is somatizations to damage the gastrointestinal system.
Even those suffering from headaches, as a result of accumulation of nervous tension, can find good relief with Melissa's daughters who, with all the essential oil they contain, act as calming on the nervous system. And they relax the muscles.
In general, the curative characteristics of this plant mean that its use is recommended when you are in the presence of a general picture of irritability or if you suffer from insomnia from excessive fatigue, nervousness, premenstrual syndrome, and tachycardia. The fresh leaf extract also has effective antiviral properties and is used against Herpes simplex.
Lemon balm in herbal medicine
In herbal medicine it is a precious plant, the Melissa, now we are all convinced, I think. But humanity has been for centuries. Its name, from the Greek deriving from apple trees, which means honey, reminds us that in addition to being useful, it is also good, or rather, its scent is delicious, so much so that bees willingly suck the nectar.
The ancients immediately identified it as a remedy against bad mood and nervousness, they recommended it to those who were full of obsessive obsessions or suffered from psychic disorders, it was known as a plant for being able to relieve unrest and sadness. Even the Arabs knew it and considered it interesting because it had a comforting effect: in the 11th century the doctor Avicenna praised lemon balm for "the wonderful property of cheering and comforting the heart".
In 1611 this plant entered the graces of the friars: "Lemon Balm Water" it was in fact invented in that year by French Discalced Carmelites and it was sold out as a popular remedy for rich and poor, against toothache, syncope, nervous breakdowns and various ailments. The only trick must be not to overdo it, an exaggerated dose of this plant can give the opposite result to the desired one.
Other than calming, therefore, the Melissa it could plunge us into a terrible state of anxiety and agitation. The only subjects for which it is not indicated are patients with thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism.
Lemon balm essential oil
The essential oil of lemon balm gives delicious taste and smell and is what makes the leaves precious. Those who want to know more can devote themselves to reading the article "Lemon balm essential oil”.
Melissa in the kitchen
The scent of this plant is irresistible, at least according to the bees, but its taste is also not bad at all, especially if well combined with others. We find the Melissa as an ingredient to flavor ice cream and herbal teas, banally, but it is used fresh in sweet and savory dishes such as vinegars and aromatic oils, sauces, soups, condiments. Has a citrus flavor which goes well with both fish and seafood dishes, and lamb and legumes that come out mitigated, less intense and more pleasing even to the most delicate or capricious palates.
She is not selfish, on the contrary she knows how to team up with other aromatic herbs, the results are excellent in the kitchen if you combine it with mint or fresh coriander. Not obvious but very tasty is a touch of Melissa to add to jams: by chopping the leaves and adding them halfway through cooking, new and curious flavors can be created, especially with apple, strawberry and fig jams that become almost magically citrusy.
Melissa in pregnancy
Among the herbal teas that can be drunk during pregnancy, indeed, highly recommended, there is also the one based on lemon balm. The infusion obtained from dried flowers or leaves is used both because it calms and because it is effective when it comes to treating nausea and vomiting. It has effects similar to those of mint tea, but a different flavor that is often less known but more appreciated.
Lemon balm for infusion
A simple and immediate way to enjoy the benefits of Melissa is to drink an infusion. If you have symptoms such as abdominal cramps, spastic colitis, nervousness and neuralgia, you can prepare it in a few minutes and sip it immediately, so you can get back on your feet quickly.
If instead of the Melissa we want thedigestive effect, an infusion after meals is the best thing, we move the time to late evening if we aim to take advantage of its relaxing and mildly sedative action. In any case it is better to stock up: less than 3 euros Pompadour proposes a box of 20 tea bags, convenient to use when needed. To be safe for a month, you need to buy at least a couple.
Lemon balm seeds
You have to wait longer than for an infusion, but you can sip lemon balm from your own garden if you buy the seeds. They cost even less but they satisfy us not only with the properties of the infusion but also with their giving light to a plant to see grow and take care of. Before even drinking your infusion, I bet that growing lemon balm will improve the mood and take away a lot of nervousness from those who try the enterprise. Here is a pack of M. Officinalis to engage with.
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