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Lemon balm, raw

Lemon balm is the best-known type of lemon balm and is an aromatic spice both raw and dried. It is still used in medicine today.
The information we compiled for this ingredient complies with the standards ofthe USDA database.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 65.04%
Macronutrient proteins 28.46%
Macronutrient fats 6.5%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 0.3g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.2g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 1:1

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Here, essential linolenic acid (LA) 0.26 g to essential alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 0.19 g = 1.33:1.
Ratio Total omega-6 = 0.26 g to omega-3 fatty acids Total = 0.19 g = 1.33:1.
On average, we need about 2 g of LA and ALA per day from which a healthy body also produces EPA and DHA, etc.

Of the four species of lemon balm ( Melissa ) found in temperate zones worldwide, lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis L.) is the best known. Raw lemon balm in particular contains medicinally effective essential oil with digestive, antimicrobial and relaxing properties.

Use in the kitchen:

Can you eat lemon balm raw? In the kitchen, the delicate, lemony-aromatic leaves are best used raw. When cooked, lemon balm leaves lose their refreshing aroma and their intense lemon scent. It is best to add the finely chopped or plucked shoots shortly before serving. Lemon balm is particularly aromatic before it flowers. 1,2,3

What can you do with lemon balm? The leaves and flowers of lemon balm add a special touch to salads, quark, raw vegetables, herbal soups , sauces, mushroom dishes and chutneys. The mild lemon aroma of lemon balm also goes well with sweet dishes such as desserts, fruit salads, jelly, jam or compote. Lemon balm sorbet, lemon balm syrup, wild plant lemonade, punch or lemon balm tea on ice are refreshing. Fresh leaves can be preserved in oil or vinegar. Fresh or dried leaves are suitable as a seasoning ingredient. 1,2,3

For a quick vegan pesto, puree lemon balm leaves and cashews with olive oil (or, healthier: cold-pressed rapeseed oil ) and a little salt . A much healthier nut alternative would be walnuts .

Vegan recipe for herbal lemonade with lemon balm:

Depending on your preference, boil fresh herbs such as lemon balm, lemon thyme or common thyme , meadow sage or common sage , peppermint or other types of mint and rosemary together with apple juice and let the mixture steep for at least 30 minutes. 4

Add mineral water or tap water and a little grated peel of an untreated lemon to the cooled and strained herbal broth. Alternatively, lemon juice , orange juice or grape juice are suitable. Spices such as crushed juniper berries , nutmeg orvanilla refine the lemonade. You get an Asian touch if you add a little lemongrass or coriander . The herbal lemonade can be kept in the fridge for three to four days if it is tightly closed. 4

Recipe for (fresh) lemon balm tea:

Basically, lemon balm tea made from fresh leaves is preferable to tea made from dried leaves. 5 Lemon balm tea is drunk several times a day throughout the day or one cup in the evening. 6

For a tea with fresh leaves, you need two handfuls of lemon balm per liter. Allow the infusion to steep for about 20 minutes. 3 If you use dried lemon balm leaves, pour boiling water over 1.5-4.0 g (1 tsp = 1.0 g) of finely chopped herb and cover the container. After steeping for 5-10 minutes, strain the tea through a sieve. 3.7

To use as a bath, boil 50-60 g of lemon balm leaves with 1 liter of water and let the brew steep for 10 minutes. The strained brew is added to a full bath. 6

Vegan recipes with lemon balm can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where to buy?

Lemon balm tea is available from supermarket chains such as Coop , Migros , Spar , Rewe , Edeka and Hofer or from organic supermarkets such as Denns or Alnatura - packaged in tea bags as part of a tea blend or as a single-variety product. We have not yet found any lemon balm tea at Volg , Denner or Hofer . You can buy lemon balm as loose tea in pharmacies, drugstores, specialist retailers, organic shops or health food stores, including in controlled organic quality.

Lemon balm is a component of many approved standard tea blends, containing up to 30g/100g. The medicinal plant is contained in gastrointestinal teas (lemon balm, peppermint, camomile) or in calming teas, sleep teas and nerve teas (lemon balm, valerian, St. John's wort, hops, lavender). 7,8 For nervous stomach pains, lemon balm can be prepared with camomile, caraway , fennel and anise . A harmonious blend for moments of relaxation is the combination of lemon balm with green or white tea. 9

Lemon balm can be bought as a potted plant or freshly cut. You should look for fresh quality with firm stems and leaves. 3

Numerous phytopharmacological ready-made preparations are available in drugstores, pharmacies or online. Lemon balm leaf extracts such as fresh plant extracts, distillates, oils, dry, thick and fluid extracts as well as combination preparations can be found in the product groups sedatives (calming medicines), spasmolytics (antispasmodic medicines) and flu remedies. 7

Real lemon balm oil is rarely available commercially, as the content in the leaves is very low and the price is high. Oils with a similar composition (from Cymbopogon species, Poaceae) are available commercially as "Indian lemon balm oil". 7 When buying finished medicinal products, you should pay attention to the label. Citronella oil is also a popular substitute for lemon balm oil. 9

Lemon balm flowers are a particular rarity. The essential flower oil contains around 160 components and has a different composition than the essential oil of the leaves. 5

There is a wide range of "lemon balm spirits" available on the market, although these only contain a small amount of distilled lemon balm leaves. Due to their high alcohol content, these preparations are not always medically justified. A lemon balm tincture, on the other hand, is useful and at the same time more effective than lemon balm spirit and even lemon balm tea, as the concentration of medicinally effective essential oils in the tincture is higher. 6

Found in the wild - Season:

In Central Europe, wild lemon balm is found mainly in nutrient-rich herbaceous areas, for example in forest clearings and on forest roads. It prefers a nutrient-rich, warm and dry location with humus-rich, sandy or loamy soil. 1,2

The perennial and herbaceous lemon balm reaches an age of 25 to 30 years and a height of about 20 to 90 centimeters. Short, underground runners grow from its rhizome. When the green parts of the plant are touched, they give off a lemon-like scent. 2.10

The plant is sparsely or barely hairy and the upright stems are branched. The leaves are arranged opposite each other. The edge of the leaves is coarsely and regularly notched. 2

Season: Since lemon balm is most aromatic before flowering, the main harvest of the leaves takes place before the flowering period, which lasts from May/June to August/September. The flowers are arranged in semi-whorls. The mustard seed-sized seeds are maroon and become slimy when wet. 2,11


Fresh leaves should be used quickly. You can put them in a container of water for a few days like cut flowers. 12,13

Drying herbs is the oldest and simplest method of preservation. When dried, lemon balm loses about 80-90% of its weight. Dried lemon balm can be kept for about a year. After that, it loses a lot of its flavor and healing power. 13

Dried lemon balm leaves should be stored in tightly sealed containers, protected from light and moisture. Suitable containers are brown glass jars or metal cans, but plastic containers are unsuitable. Plastic containers usually have their own smell and can affect the aroma of the herbs - especially if they are rich in essential oils. 14

Can you freeze fresh lemon balm? Freezing is an alternative to drying. Chop up the lemon balm and pack it in portions in foil bags or ice cube trays. In addition to lemon balm, basil , tarragon , dill , parsley , chives and thyme are also suitable herbs for freezing. 13

Ingredients - nutritional value - calories:

Lemon balm contains 7-11% hydroxycinnamic derivatives (phenolic acids) with the main component rosmarinic acid ("Lamiaceae tannins"), 0.5% flavonoids, triterpenes, a strong antioxidant 1,3-benzodioxolaldehyde and 0.05-0.3% essential oils with the main components citral and citronellal. 7

Other ingredients include bitter substances, tannic acid, resin, mucilage, glycosides and saponins. 1

Standardization of lemon balm leaf extracts is necessary because there are significant differences in the content of rosmarinic acid (0.9-2.8%), tannins (3.6-13.2%) and total flavonoids (0.3-0.45%). These differences also explain the different effectiveness of homemade lemon balm leaf teas. 5 According to the European Pharmacopoeia, the content of rosmarinic acid must be at least 1%. 7

The complete ingredients of lemon balm, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health aspects - effects:

How healthy is lemon balm? Animal experiments have shown that lemon balm has analgesic and sedative effects. Histologically, it has also been shown to have an antiulcer effect. This is probably due to the antioxidant properties of the flavonoids. The medicinally effective lemon balm oil also has a relaxing effect on the intestinal muscles. 7,8

What is lemon balm tea good for? Aqueous lemon balm extracts have an antiviral effect, including against herpes simplex, influenza and the so-called myxoviruses, as well as against HIV-1. The extract inhibits virus adsorption (the virus attaching itself to the cell) and prevents the virus from penetrating the cell. 7

Controlled clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of local application of a 1% lemon balm leaf extract for herpes labialis. The reduction was greater after five days of treatment with lemon balm cream than with acyclovir. 7 Lemon balm tea is not sufficient for antiviral therapy. Creams containing a standardized extract with a constant minimum content of rosmarinic acid are used instead. 5

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects:

Contraindications, side effects or interactions due to applications with lemon balm are not known. 5

The essential lemon balm oil should only be used diluted, as it can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. 8

Use as a medicinal plant:

In 1988, the Association of German Druggists named lemon balm the medicinal plant of the year. 2 Today, the leaves (Melissae folium) and the essential oil (Melissae aetheroleum) are used as pharmaceutical drugs.

There are now well-founded monographs on lemon balm from the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products ( HMPC ), the umbrella organization of national European societies for phytotherapy ( ESCOP / European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy ), the Commission E (independent, scientific expert commission for herbal medicinal products of the current Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices ( BfArM ) in Germany) and the World Health Organization ( WHO ), which describe recognized areas of application for lemon balm.

Is lemon balm good for the stomach? The HMPC has recognized lemon balm as a herbal medicinal product for traditional use to improve mild stress symptoms, as a sleep aid and for mild cramp-like gastrointestinal complaints. 7

The indications for ESCOP include tension, restlessness and irritability. Lemon balm can be used for the symptomatic treatment of digestive problems and externally for cold sores. 7

Commission E recognizes the use of lemon balm for nervous-related sleep disorders and for functional gastrointestinal problems. 7

The Federal Institute for Drugs ( BfArM ) has approved a medicine based on lemon balm for the external treatment of herpes simplex HSV-1 and HSV-2. 7

Folk medicine - natural healing:

The ancient Greeks and Romans valued lemon balm as a medicinal and spice plant. In the 17th century, the famous "lemon balm spirit" was invented. 3

Since the 15th century, lemon balm has been used as a calming, antispasmodic, digestive and carminative agent. The traditional medicinal plant is also used as a diaphoretic, nerve-calming and strengthening agent for colds and flu. Functional circulatory weakness, nervous palpitations, restlessness, irritability, migraines, hysteria, melancholy, gout, rheumatism and a nervous stomach are other indications in folk medicine. 7,9

Due to its antispasmodic effect, lemon balm is used for all complaints that are caused by cramps, such as menstrual cramps, headaches, cramps. 6,7

Applied externally, lemon balm can help with insect bites, wounds, ulcers, bruises, contusions, earaches and toothache. 1.9

Especially in women, lemon balm has been shown to be very effective in treating typical complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and acne. 9

Baths with lemon balm are used for inflammation of the skin and genital organs or for relaxation. 15

Occurrence - Origin:

Lemon balm originally comes from the eastern Mediterranean region (Balkans and Asia Minor) and from Western Asia. Its natural area extends from Anatolia through the Caucasus region, Iraq and Iran to Pakistan. Today, lemon balm is widespread throughout the world in temperate and warm regions and regularly grows wild there. 2.7

The four species of the genus Melissa ( Melissa axillaris , Melissa flava , Melissa yunnanensis and Melissa officinalis L.) are distributed in Eurasia and North Africa according to Wikipedia . 2

Growing in the garden or as a pot plant:

Lemon balm can be grown in a warm, partially shaded and protected location in the garden or as a pot plant. The soil should be well-drained and sandy-loamy. Compost or mulch are suitable as fertilizer. 7,12

Before the first flowers appear in spring, the plant should be cut back to 10 cm above the ground. Firstly, the urge to produce new shoots is particularly strong at this time and secondly, lemon balm is at its most aromatic at this time. You can then harvest two or three times by the end of September. 2.12

Cultivation - Harvest:

For commercial use, lemon balm is grown as a perennial crop that can be harvested three to four times a year just before flowering using a scythe mower or combine harvester. The yield of leaf mass per hectare is around 15 to 30 tons. 2

Lemon balm is grown in Central Europe, Western Europe (especially Spain and southern France) and Eastern Europe. Imports come from the regions mentioned. 7

Danger of confusion:

Lemon balm can be confused with lemon mint or other types of lemon balm. There is no real danger, as the plants mentioned are also edible.

Unlike mint, lemon balm has white flowers and no reddish stem. Lemon balm can be distinguished from other types of balm thanks to its lemony aroma. 14

Animal protection - species protection - animal welfare:

The flowering period of lemon balm is from May/June to August/September. The flowers provide bees with a rich summer forage. Moths also visit the small lip flowers of lemon balm. Forage is the general term for the food that the bees bring in, i.e. nectar, pollen and honeydew. The nectar value of lemon balm is high and the pollen value is medium (nectar value and pollen value scale: none, low, medium, high, very high). In ancient times, lemon balm was cultivated as a bee pasture. 2,11

In the past, beehives were rubbed with lemon balm juice. The antiseptic effect was believed to prevent the spread of disease. 10

General information:

What is the difference between lemon balm and melissa? The melissas ( Melissa ) are a genus of plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae). The best-known species of melissa is lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis L.). 2,10 See also if there is a risk of confusion.

The genus name Melissa is related to ancient Greek meli (= honey), melissa / melitta (= honey bee) and meliteia (= bee herb, lemon balm; probably derived from meliteion, a type of mead used by the Greeks 16 ). The name refers to the use of the plant as a bee pasture. The species suffix officinalis means officially or used as a medicine. 2

Alternative names:

Alternative names for lemon balm are garden balm, lemon herb or lady's balm.

In English, lemon balm is called melissa and lemon balm is called balm, sweet balm, lemon balm or common balm.

Literature - Sources: