Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a square stemmed, upright herb that grows to 20 inches. The leaves can grow to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide and are characterized by a strong lemon fragrance and astringent, antiseptic, and healing properties.
Lemon balm has been used for many centuries as an effective nervine and natural aid to sleep and relaxation. Melissa Officinalis preparations were used by both the ancient Greeks and Romans as a surgical wound dressing. Paracelsus described melissa balm as the "elixir of life." The word melissa comes from the Greek for 'honey bee .' The plant provides excellent bee fodder, hence its' ancient name of bee balm. Anecdotal successes include Melissa Officinalis successfully used heal an ulcerated spider bite.
This herb is high in natural polyphenols that have been shown very effectively as a topical treatment for shingles and herpes, thanks to its anti-fungal and strongly anti-viral properties. In addition, lemon balm leaf extract has a strong and long tradition as general wound healers when applied externally, and herbalists often recommend them for managing complex skin problems. Melissa preparations are suitable for acne, eczema, cuts, sores, minor wounds, and warts, as well as painful insect bites and bee stings.