(Melissa officinalis); Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family; medicinal lemon balm
A native of the Mediterranean, lemon balm appeared relatively recently in the middle lane of Russia. Fresh and dried leaves of this plant have an extremely pleasant, delicate citrus aroma.
Melissa is a perennial. The stem (as in all representatives of the family) is four-sided, up to 1 m tall. The leaves are bare on top, pubescent on the bottom, egg-shaped, pointed at the top, serrated at the edges. The flowers are irregular, double-lipped, small, pale lilac or white. The plant smells most intensively before flowering (June), in July-August the aroma is much weaker and less pleasant. Melissa is usually grown in gardens for food and medicinal purposes; in the southern regions, large areas are sown – the plant is a good honey bearer. Sometimes melissa goes wild, especially in the Crimea, where it occurs near roads, along river banks, in meadows.
The leaves of the plant are collected before flowering, when they contain the largest amount of essential oil. After a month, you can collect again – lemon balm grows well. The raw material is spread in a thin layer on a dry surface and dried at a temperature of 25-35 °С, without turning it over. Melissa is included in the Pharmacopoeia of many Western European countries.
The leaves of the plant contain complex essential oil, tannins, bitterness, organic acids, sugars and mineral salts.
Leaf extracts are an effective sedative (calming) agent. They are especially useful for the elderly. Infusions of the leaves relieve spasmodic phenomena, reduce the tension of the smooth muscles of the intestines, act as a means of stimulating the appetite – increase the secretion of the digestive glands. Bacteriostatic and antiviral properties of the plant are known. Melissa is usually used for nervous excitement, vegetative-vascular dystonia, insomnia, arrhythmia, blood pressure drops, digestive disorders, vegetative neuroses. Often the plant is used in a mixture with mint, chamomile, valerian and other herbs. Fresh lemon balm leaves are included in the therapeutic and preventive diet: finely chopped leaves are added to vitamin salads. It turns out a piquant, aromatic dish.
Thickets of plants, especially in the southern regions, attract bees. However, due to the long tube of the corolla, insects are unable to collect all the nectar, so the honey productivity of lemon balm is not too high — 100-250 kg per hectare. However, the taste qualities of this honey are excellent.
Infusion of leaves. A teaspoon of leaves per 1 cup (200 ml) of boiling water, infuse for 15 minutes, strain. Drink warm in small sips before going to bed.
Decoction of grass (external). 75 g of lemon balm herb, 30 g of chamomile flowers and 75 g of peppermint leaves are boiled for 5 minutes. in 3 liters of water, filter. The decoction is poured into the bath (a remedy for vegetative neuroses).