lemon balm uses
Organic Gardening

Lemon Balm Uses: How to Use Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, a perennial herb from the mint family, has a pleasant lemon scent and so many uses. Its leaves are rich in essential oils. This herb has been used for centuries as a mild sedative because of its calming properties. Whether you’re interested in the natural health benefits of herbs or looking for new culinary ventures, lemon balm is a versatile plant that can contribute favorably to your daily life.

The medicinal benefits of lemon balm range from alleviating stress and anxiety to providing relief for digestive problems and sleep disorders. Beyond its health applications, the herb finds its way into diverse culinary dishes, offering a subtle lemon flavor to teas, salads, and even desserts. In addition to being an invaluable component of the kitchen and medicine cabinet, lemon balm can enhance your living space with its aromatic leaves. If you rub the leaves, you’ll get a very pleasant lemon smell. Hence its name! It’s used in aromatherapy and has advantages in the garden thanks to its ability to attract bees and other pollinators.

This post is all about lemon balm uses.

***Note: this post is NOT medical advice. Always speak to your physician. This is purely for educational purposes.***

Lemon Balm Benefits: Medicinal Purposes

Lemon balm has a variety of medicinal uses based throughout history as well as in modern research. Let’s take a look at lemon balm benefits.

Anxiety and Stress Relief

Research indicates that lemon balm can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and promote relaxation. According to a small study conducted, individuals that consumed doses of dried lemon balm leaves showed changes in both their performance and mood. There needs to be more research though. There haven’t been many studies done on humans.

Lemon Balm for Sleep and Insomnia

It can help improve sleep quality and help with insomnia through its calming properties. You might benefit from using lemon balm extract or oil to help your mood and encourage restful sleep.

Digestive Health

Your digestive system may also benefit from lemon balm’s soothing effects. It is traditionally used to help with gastrointestinal discomfort and may help reduce symptoms like bloating and indigestion.

Cognitive Function

Enhancing your cognitive performance could be another advantage of using lemon balm. Preliminary studies suggest that it may improve memory and cognitive tasks, potentially by mitigating the effects of stress on the brain.

Ways to Incorporate Lemon Balm into Your Life

There are many different ways to use lemon balm and incorporate them in your life. It can be used in cooking, herbal teas, aromatherapy, and it can even be used in the garden. Let’s take a look at how we can use it.

Lemon Balm in the Kitchen

Lemon balm is used in different dishes and is super versatile. Here’s how you can incorporate lemon balm into your cooking:

  • Herbal Teas: Infuse fresh lemon balm leaves in boiling water to create a soothing herbal tea.
  • Salads: Add a refreshing twist to your green salads by including whole lemon balm leaves or garnish fruit salads for a fragrant note. Check out Food52’s recipe, “Radish and Herb Salad with Sungold Tomatoes and Strawberries”, featuring lemon balm.
  • Poultry Flavoring: Lemon balm can elevate your poultry dishes with its zesty flavor.

To utilize lemon balm in your dishes:

  1. Begin by washing the fresh leaves thoroughly.
  2. Chop the leaves finely or add them whole, depending on your culinary creation.
  3. Introduce the herb early in the cooking process for savory dishes, allowing its essence to infuse into the meal.

Cooking Tips:

  • Substitute lemon balm wherever you might use mint for a citrusy twist.
  • Pair lemon balm with ingredients like peas, broad beans, and potatoes for a harmonious blend of flavors and textures as suggested here.
  • Lemon balm can be used as a replacement for lemon zest in some recipes, lending a subtle aroma.

Use lemon balm sparingly as its flavor can become overpowering if too much is used. Fresh lemon balm is preferred for its vibrancy, but dried lemon balm can also be used with a more concentrated flavor. Experiment with how much to add to suit your taste!

Aromatherapy and Cosmetic Applications

When you incorporate lemon balm into your aromatherapy practice, you’re harnessing the calming properties of the plant. Its essential oil is known for its ability to help reduce anxiety and stress, which makes it a favored choice for aromatherapy blends. To tap into these benefits, you can diffuse lemon balm essential oil in your living space for a soothing atmosphere. If you’d like some suggestions on essential oil brands to use, feel free to leave a comment below! Quality is key to aromatherapy and you want to get what you pay for.

Lemon balm is a valuable addition in a cosmetic routine because of its antiviral qualities. When applied topically, such as in creams or ointments, it may help treat skin irritations like cold sores. Some people appreciate its naturally fresh, citrus scent in homemade cosmetics, giving products a pleasant fragrance without artificial additives.

Here’s a quick guide to using lemon balm in aromatherapy and cosmetics:

  • Aromatherapy:
    • Diffusion: Add a few drops to your diffuser.
    • Inhalation: Inhale directly from the bottle or a cotton pad with a few drops.
  • Cosmetic Uses:
    • Topical applications: Apply lemon balm-infused products to affected areas.
    • Homemade cosmetics: Use the essential oil for its scent and benefits.

Note: Be sure to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil for topical use to avoid skin irritation. Great options for carrier oils are olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. 

For more detailed information about the benefits of lemon balm essential oil, refer to Lemon Balm Essential Oil: A Guide to Benefits, Uses and Side Effects.

Lemon Balm in the Garden

This hardy perennial is known to be easy to grow and it thrives in a variety of conditions, making it an excellent choice for gardeners of all skill levels.

Some key characteristics are:

  • Hardy and adaptable, tolerates a variety of soil types
  • Attracts beneficial insects like bees and butterflies

How to Take Care of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm plants have thick, bushy foliage and releases a pleasant lemon scent. Crush or bruise the leaves to get a whiff! Frequent trimming encourages leafier growth, and these trimmings can be used in teas and other culinary preparations.

  • Pruning: Encourages bushier growth; trim regularly
  • Fragrance: Fresh lemon scent enhances garden aroma

One of the key horticultural benefits is its reputation as a companion plant. By planting lemon balm near vegetable and fruit plants, you can help deter some unwanted insects, thanks to its strong, mosquito-repellent fragrance. It pairs well with summer and winter squash, tomatoes, and the cabbage family. It may even improve the flavor of your veggies and fruit.

[RELATED POST: Find Out All About Oregano Companion Planting]

In terms of propagation, lemon balm is prolific and can easily be propagated by root division or seed, ensuring that you can expand your growth with little additional investment. Just keep an eye on its spread, as lemon balm is known for its vigorous growth habits. My personal opinion? Grab a packet of seeds and plant! Seed packets are relatively inexpensive, plus you can spread so many throughout your property.

This post was all about lemon balm uses.

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