Melissa oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 8:23 min

Melissa oil, also known as lemon balm, is a plant from the labiate flowers genus, which was originally native to the eastern Mediterranean. Lemon balm is a very popular medicinal and culinary herb today.

Name Melissa
Lat. Name Melissa officinalis
Synonyms Lemon balm, Common balm, Balm mint, Melissa
Origin Southeastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean
Price per 10ml 3,04

Melissa oil has various powerful effects on the psyche and the body. The fragrance of lemon balm oil is described as a mixture between peppermint and lemon.

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Psychological impact

The smell of lemon balm oil has a potent calming effect on the mind. It is able to increase the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the so-called neurotransmitters. These are substances that affect our minds, like hormones. A lack of serotonin leads to restlessness and nervousness. Lemon balm oil is considered to be the oil with the strongest soothing effect. It therefore helps to significantly counteract sleep disorders, harmonizes the mind and prevents mood fluctuation. Anxiety and mild panic can also be managed with the help of lemon balm oil.

Melissa oil is also able to regulate histamine production. Histamine is generally known as an allergen, which is also found in red wine. In our body, histamine is responsible for inflammation and stress.

Melissa oil is also said to have a beneficial effect on memory. In dementia patients, it has been shown that lemon balm oil increases the production of acetylcholine in the brain and thus reduces their symptoms of dementia. But, healthy people also derive benefit from lemon balm oil's effects to enhance our memory. The memory athlete Dominic O'Brien claims never to compete without lemon balm oil. The balm oil helps him to concentrate and sharpens his memory.

Physical effects

Due to its many ingredients, lemon balm oil can be used against a large number of health problems. It has had a permanent place in naturopathy for centuries and is also becoming increasingly popular in conventional medicine. Research into various ingredients in lemon balm oil continues to this day and is far from complete. Nevertheless, based on modern research, lemon balm oil is a unique cocktail of biologically valuable active ingredients. Lemon balm oil if effective for the following:

Melissa oil for cold sores (herpes simplex)

Melissa oil has strong antiviral properties, provided by the many tannins contained within it. This antiviral effect can be used to treat local herpes spots. Herpes is a virus that permanently settles in the body and cannot be removed. Melissa oil is also unable to permanently cure herpes. However, if balm oil is applied to developing cold sores, it's powerful antiviral properties halt their development immediately.

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Gastrointestinal complaints

The calming effects of lemon balm oil is not only limited to the mind. Lemon balm oil is also an excellent, natural treatment for an upset stomach, and related complaints. It helps to calm the muscles that surround the stomach and the intestines.

Gastritis (stomach pain)

If you suffer from persistent, stomach pain and nausea, this can be a sign of gastritis, i.e. an inflammation of the stomach lining. Like many other essential oils, lemon balm oil has strong anti-inflammatory effects. In contrast to many other essential oils however, lemon balm oil is considered to be safe for oral consumption. Melissa oil inhibits the production of substances in the body which cause inflammation. In gastritis, therefore helps to heal the inflamed gastric mucosa (stomach lining).

For improved complexion

Melissa oil is known for being well tolerated by the skin. It has a strong local circulation boost. These properties have led to it being used in many commercially available skin care products. Due to the increased blood flow to the skin, it can regenerate better, is better supplied with nutrients and is therefore able to rejuvenate itself.

Digestive problems

Lemon balm oil has two positive effects on our digestion: On the one hand, it stimulates our stomach to produce more gastric juice. As a result, food that is difficult to digest can be broken down more easily in the stomach. On the other hand, lemon balm oil also stimulates the flow of saliva in our mouth. It is very often forgotten that the digestion of our food begins in the mouth. The enzymes in the saliva prepare the food for our stomach. The stomach is relieved by increased salivation.

Menstrual cramps

Melissa oil has good antispasmodic properties. This can be used to relieve abdominal cramps experienced by women during monthly periods. Melissa oil also has a regulatory effect. If the period is irregular, lemon balm oil can help provide balance.

Side effects

Melissa oil is generally considered to have very few side effects. However, people with certain health problems should be careful. For example, lemon balm oil can impair thyroid function. People suffering from thyroid insufficiency should therefore refrain from using lemon balm oil. There is no evidence of cross reactions with medication.

Application | Uses

Melissa oil can be used in many different ways. If you want to use the oil as a fragrance oil, you can simply heat it in a fragrance lamp or a diffuser and enjoy the fragrance. Lemon balm oil is also very suitable for cooking or baking.

If you want to freshen your dish with notes of citrus, add a few drops of lemon balm oil to your ingredient list. You can also make excellent alcohol extracts with lemon balm. Melissa is part of many schnapps and liqueurs. 'Klosterfrau Melissengeist' is particularly well known. However, the taste of lemon balm oil is very intense. So don't overdo it. To use lemon balm oil as a bath additive, simply add 10-20 drops of the oil to your bath water. Your skin and your lungs will thank you.

If you want to apply lemon balm oil to your skin, you can use it undiluted. Because of its intense fragrance, it is advisable to add a few drops of a commercially available skin cream. For consumption and internal use, you can also mix lemon balm oil with various drinks, which gives them a certain freshness.

Tea made from Lemon balm leaves is quite popular. When buying lemon balm oil, ensure that you purchase real lemon balm oil. Citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus) oil is also sold commercially as lemon balm oil. Sometimes both oils are blended together. This leads to a reduction in the therapeutic effects. If you buy a blended product, always make sure that the percentage of oils on the bottle is noted.

Manufacturing

Lemon balm oil is obtained by steam distillation. Since lemon balm has a very low-oil plant, you need approx. 4-8 tons of lemon balm leaves for 1 L pure lemon balm oil. This low yield and high production costs make lemon balm oil a very valuable commodity.

Make lemon balm oil yourself

Melissa oil can be easily made at home. All you need is enough lemon balm leaves, some olive oil and a mason jar. Put the lemon balm leaves together with the olive oil in the mason jar and put them in a warm and dark place for about 4 weeks. The glass should be turned over once every 2 days to ensure an even mix. After 4 weeks, the olive oil absorbs all the ingredients of the lemon balm and the leaves can be removed. Store your lemon balm oil in a dark and cool place.

Chemical composition

  • Hydroxycinnamic acid 4-7%

  • Citral 40-70%

  • Citronellal 1-20%

  • β-caryophylls 5-15%

Other constituents include linalool, caryophyllene epoxy, Germacren D, geranyl acetate, α-copane and geraniol. The exact chemical composition of lemon balm depends on the growing conditions and the age of the plant. The time of harvest also plays a central role.

History

The name 'Melissa' first appeared in Dioskurides in ancient Greece and means 'Honey bee' in Greek. Lemon balm has had its place in folk medicine for centuries. Hildegard von Bingen attributed lemon balm's healing properties to a blend of 15 different herbs in the mid-12th century. Paracelsus also mentioned lemon balm in his works in the mid-14th century. In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was so important that monasteries were required by law in some places to cultivate it in their herb gardens.

Botany

Lemon balm is a herbaceous and very persistent plant that can reach a height of 60-90 cm. It also reaches an age of 22-35 years, which is unusual for herbs. The stems and leaves of the lemon balm are covered with fine hairs, but can also be relatively bald. The leaves are ovate and slightly rounded at the tip. The leaf edges are notched like a saw.

The lemon balm has tiny seeds. About 1000 seeds are needed to get a weight of 0.1 g. Despite their small size, lemon balm seeds remain capable of planting for up to 3 years.

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Cultivation

Lemon balm is endemic to today's Turkey, across the Middle East to Pakistan. Through human cultivation, however, it occurs today in all temperate climates around the world. Lemon balm needs warm locations so that it can thrive. It prefers dry and nutrient-rich soils with a thick layer of humus. With artificial influence, lemon balm is mainly found in forest areas and forest roads. Lemon balm is grown in 2 to 3 year old crops, although it could reach a much older age. This is because the stems of the lemon balm become woody with age. If the lemon balm is propagated via seeds, sowing usually follows in mid-May, since a soil temperature above 20 degrees is necessary for germination. However, if it is propagated through young plants, planting will start at the end of March. Lemon balm can be harvested up to 3 times a year just before flowering. The yield per hectare when growing lemon balm is up to 30 tons.

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