Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Bee Balm

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Botanical Name:Monarda didyma
Family: Lamiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Monarda
Other Names: Bergamot,Eastern Beebalm, Wild Oswego Tea, Horsemint, Monarda

Parts usually used: Leaves

Habitat: Native to Eastern North America. It grows in dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges from Ontario and British Columbia to Georgia and Mexico.

It is of 16 species of erect, herbaceous annual or perennial plants in the Lamiaceae, indigenous to North America. Ranging in height from 1 to 3 feet (0.2 to 0.9 m), the plants have an equal spread, with slender and long-tapering (lanceolate) leaves; the leaves are opposite on stem, smooth to nearly hairy, lightly serrated margins, and range from 3 to 6 inches (7 to 14 cm) long. In all species, the leaves, when crushed, exude a spicy, highly fragrant oil. Of the species listed, M. didyma (Oswego Tea) contains the highest concentration of this oil.Flowers: About 1-1/2 inches long; corolla 2-lipped, 5-lobed; stamens2, projecting; stigma 2- parted.Reddish bracts present beneath flower cluster.Leaves: 3 to 6 inches long; opposite, dark green, ovate to lanceolate, coarsely toothed.


It has a dense, rather shallow root system, with many runners, making root division a most

reliable method of plant propagation.

The genus was named for Nicolás Monardes who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants found in the New World.

The Monarda plants prefer full sun and moist yet well-drained soil. Plants established in partial shade or filtered sun have higher incidences of rapid horizontal spread and flower less. An aggressive plant in the South-eastern United States, Bergamots can grow in a wide variety of soil conditions. Powdery mildew, rust, and (rarely) tobacco mosaic viruses disrupt established plants on occasion, but the plants are in general highly resistant to most wilts and viruses and are not easily damaged. Used most frequently in areas in need of naturalization, Monarda is often used in beds and borders to encourage and increase the appearance of hummingbirds, pollinating insects, and because of oils present in its roots is sometimes used to companion plant around small vegetable crops susceptible to subterranean pests. While seed should be stratified briefly before starting, seed may be cast directly or started in coldframes or greenhouses at soil temperatures approaching 70° Fahrenheit. Generally, propagation occurs by hardwood and softwood cuttings, root cuttings, layering, and division; the latter, quite frequently, is the most popular method out of necessity: the plant should be divided every 3 to 5 years to reduce spread, keep the central core of the plant healthy, preclude root rot, and improve air circulation about the foliage.

Flowers, species, cultivars
Monarda species include annual and perennial upright growing herbaceous plants with lanceolate to ovate shaped leaves. The flowers are tubular with bilateral symmetry and bilabiate; with upper lips narrow and the lower ones broader and spreading or deflexed. The flowers are single or in some cultivated forms double, generally hermaphroditic with 2 stamens. Plant bloom in mid to late-summer and the flowers are produced in dense profusion at the ends of the stem and/or in the stem axils, the flowers typically are in crowded into head-like clusters with leafy bracts. Flower colors vary, with wild forms of the plant having crimson-red to red, pink and light purple. M. didyma has bright, carmine red blossoms; M. fistulosa — the “true” wild bergamot — has smokey pink flowers. M. citriodora and M. pectinata have light lavender to lilac-colored blooms and have slightly decreased flower quantities. Both species are commonly referred to as “Lemon Mint.” There are over 50 commercial cultivars and hybrids, ranging in color from candy-apple red to pure white to deep blue, but these plants tend to be smaller than wild species, and often developed to combat climatic or pest conditions. “M.didyma” species can grow up to 6 feet tall. Seed collected from hybrids — as with most hybridized plants — does not produce identical plants to the parent.

Constituents: Volatile oil, Compounds related to Thymol, Tannic acid.

Several Bee Balm species (Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma) have a long history of use as a medicinal plants by many Native Americans including the Blackfeet, Menominee, Objibwe, Winnebago and others. The Blackfeet Indians recognized the strong antiseptic action of these plants, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee Balm is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a tea made from bee Balm as a general stimulant. Bee Balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence.

Although somewhat bitter, due to the thymol content in the plants leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano, to which it is closely related. Bee Balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet in elevation.

Medicinal Properties:
Carmative, rubefacient, stimulant. Has been used mainly as a stomach preparation, to relieve nausea, vomiting, and flatulence.
An infusion is good for colds, coughs, nausea, and sore throats. Native Americans used leaf tea for colic, gas, colds, fever, stomachaches, nosebleeds, insomnia, heart trouble, measles, and to induce sweating. Poultice used for headaches. Historically, physicians used leaf tea to expel worms and gas.

Formulas or Dosages:
The best quality tea material is achieved if the leaves are stripped off the square, hollow stems and dried in warm shade within 2-3 days. A longer drying period might discolor the leaves, producing an inferior type product. Finish drying with artificial heat when necessary.
Legends, Myths and Stories:
This plant is entirely different and hardier than Melissa. It is a beautiful scarlet flowering native American mint. The foliage has a perfume fragrance. The flowers are so popular with bees that the plant deserves the name American bee balm.

Bergamot or bee balm is a part of American history; it is a source of tea which was a popular substitute for the imported variety amongst the mid-Atlantic patriots in the wake of the Boston Tea Party. That period was probably the best in bergamot’s history, though it retains its mystique, thanks to a striking appearance and the richly American nick-name, Oswego tea.

The name Oswego tea came from the town, Oswego, New York? More likely both the town and the tea acquired the name Oswego from the Native Americans inhabiting the area, who had it first. The Native Americans passed their knowledge of the plant to the colonists, and one, a John Bartram of Philadelphia, reportedly sent seeds to England in the mid-1700s. From England, bergamot traveled to the Continent, where it is still cultivated, generally under the names gold melissa and Indian nettle.

Among the foremost growers of this herb in the United States were the Shakers, who had a settlement near Oswego, New York. The Shakers were among America’s great herbalists; they valued bergamot not only for tea and culinary uses, but for its medicinal virtues. The leaves can be used to flavor apple jelly, fruit cups, and salads.

The entire plant emits a strong fragrance similar to citrus, but most like that of the tropical tree, orange bergamot, hence the nickname bergamot. The scent is suitable for use in potpourris and other scented mixtures. The bright red flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies and make striking, long-lasting cut blooms. The blossoms provide the flavoring for the famous Earl Grey tea. The flowers are also edible.

The hills around Pittsfield, Massachusetts are rife with this plant, wild and domestic.

Companion plant
Bee balm is considered a good plant to grow with tomatoes, ostensibly improving both health and flavor. It also is a good companion plant in general, attracting pollinators and some predatory/parasitic insects that hunt garden pests.

Monarda species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including case-bearers of the genus Coleophora including C. heinrichella (feeds exclusively on M. fistulosa), C. monardae (feeds exclusively on Monarda spp) and C. monardella (feeds exclusively on M. fistulosa).

Other Information:
The Bergamot of the Monarda species should not be confused with the popular flavoring used in Earl Grey tea. Dried leaves may be used for teas or aromatherapies, but the odor is subtly different from Citrus bergamia, the Earl Grey flavoring. For medicinal usage, Monarda has been known to treat headaches and fevers by infusing crushed leaves in boiling water.

Click to see:->Growing and Using Bee Balm

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Lemon Balm (Balm)

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis
Family:    Lamiaceae
Genus:    Melissa
Species:    M. officinalis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Lamiales

Synonyms: Sweet Balm. Lemon Balm.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), not to be confused with bee balm, Monarda species, is a perennial herb in the mint family Lamiaceae.
Other common names: Melissa, Balm, Balm Mint, Bee Balm, Blue Balm, Cure-all, Dropsy Plant, Garden Balm, Sweet Balm, Heart’s Delight

Part Used: Herb.
Habitat: A native of South Europe, especially in mountainous situations, but is naturalized in the south of England, and was introduced into our gardens at a very early period.


The root-stock is short, the stem square and branching, grows 1 to 2 feet high, and has at each joint pairs of broadly ovate or heart-shaped, crenate or toothed leaves which emit a fragrant lemon odour when bruised. They also have a distinct lemon taste. The flowers, white or yellowish, are in loose, small bunches from the axils of the leaves and bloom from June to October. The plant dies down in winter, but the root is perennial.
The genus Melissa is widely diffused, having representatives in Europe, Middle Asia and North America. The name is from the Greek word signifying ‘bee,’ indicative of the attraction the flowers have for those insects, on account of the honey they produce.

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It grows to 70-150 cm tall. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. At the end of the summer, little white flowers full of nectar appear. These attract bees, hence the genus name Melissa (Greek for ‘honey bee‘). Its flavour comes from the terpenes citronellal, citronellol, citral, and geraniol.

Balm grows freely in any soil and can be propagated by seeds, cuttings or division of roots in spring or autumn. If in autumn, preferably not later than October, so that the offsets may be established before the frosts come on. The roots may be divided into small pieces, with three or four buds to each, and planted 2 feet apart in ordinary garden soil. The only culture required is to keep them clean from weeds and to cut off the decayed stalks in autumn, and then to stir the ground between the roots.
This herb can be easy to cultivate in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. In zone 4, it needs winter mulch and a well-drained sandy soil to survive. In zone 7, it can be harvested at least until the end of November. It is moderately shade-tolerant, much more so than most herbs. In dry climates, it grows best in partial shade.

Lemon Balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetatively as well as by seed. In mild temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring. It can be easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water, or from seeds. Under ideal conditions, it will seed itself prolifically and can become a nuisance in gardens.

Use in Food and drinks:
It is used as a flavouring in tisane and ice cream, but its most common use is to make herbal teas. It makes a particularly refreshing iced tea, especially when mixed with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also often paired with fruit dishes or candies.
Its use in cooking of different dishes is very much appreciated.

Medicinal uses:

Carminative, diaphoretic and febrifuge. It induces a mild perspiration and makes a pleasant and cooling tea for feverish patients in cases of catarrh and influenza. To make the tea, pour 1 pint of boiling water upon 1 oz. of herb, infuse 15 minutes, allow to cool, then strain and drink freely. If sugar and a little lemonpeel or juice be added it makes a refreshing summer drink.

New research shows that its polyphenols can help significantly in the treatment of herpes simplex and zoster infections. Two other secondary compounds of this plant, citral and citronellal, calm the central nervous system.

Balm is a useful herb, either alone or in combination with others. It is excellent in colds attended with fever, as it promotes perspiration .

Used with salt, it was formerly applied for the purpose of taking away wens, and had the reputation of cleansing sores and easing the pains of gout.

John Hussey, of Sydenham, who lived to the age of 116, breakfasted for fifty years on Balm tea sweetened with honey, and herb teas were the usual breakfasts of Llewelyn Prince of Glamorgan, who died in his 108th year. Carmelite water, of which Balm was the chief ingredient, was drunk daily by the Emperor Charles V.

Commercial oil of Balm is not a pure distillate, but is probably oil of Lemon distilled over Balm. The oil is used in perfumery.

Balm is frequently used as one of the ingredients of pot-pourri. Mrs. Bardswell, in The Herb Garden, mentions Balm as one of the bushy herbs that are invaluable for the permanence of their leaf-odours, which,
‘though ready when sought, do not force themselves upon us, but have to be coaxed out by touching, bruising or pressing. Balm with its delicious lemon scent, is by common consent one of the most sweetly smelling of all the herbs in the garden. Balm-wine was made of it and a tea which is good for feverish colds. The fresh leaves make better tea than the dry.’
The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos.

Lemon Balm is also used medicinally as a herbal tea, or in extract form. It is claimed to have antibacterial, antiviral properties, and it is also used as a mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective at reducing stress, although the study’s authors call for further research. Its antibacterial properties have also been demonstrated scientifically, although they are markedly weaker than those from a number of other plants studied.

Lemon Balm has been used for thousands of years as an effective calmative that is good for all kinds of nervous problems, including tension headaches, migraines, neuralgia, hysteria, nervous tension, stress, anxiety, excitability, heart palpations (resulting from anxiety) and agitation. Frequently called “the calming herb,” it may be effective in treating Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, easing such symptoms as inability to listen, fidgeting, inability to sustain attention and shifting from one incomplete task to another. It also appears to relax muscle tension without daytime drowsiness.

To prevent insomnia, Lemon Balm is used to calm and relax the nerves, and Lemon Balm is an old and particularly reliable treatment for relieving the feelings of melancholy and depression.

Lemon Balm is also effective in calming the digestive tract. It relieves dyspepsia, colic, gas, upset stomach, indigestion and stomach cramps (particularly when related to nervous tension).

In the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Lemon Balm shows great promise, because of the herb’s possible central nervous system acetylcholine receptor activity and antioxidant properties. It may even positively affect cognitive abilities, enhance memory and improve mental clarity.

Further demonstrating Lemon Balm’s calmative qualities, the herb has been used to relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stopping the spasms and relieving the pain and cramps associated with the disease. In addition, although it is strong enough to ease spasms, it is not so strong as to cause constipation.

Lemon Balm is an old folk remedy for treating feverish patients. It promotes perspiration and cools the body by breaking a fever. It is especially helpful in cases of colds and flu. Lemon Balm is also said to relieve bronchial catarrh and some forms of asthma.

In cases of hyperthyroidism, the flavonoids and polyphenolics found in Lemon Balm induce thryroid-regulating actions and have been known to block the attachment of thyroid cells by antibodies that cause Graves’ disease, a condition that results in hyperthyroidism and over-stimulation of the thyroid gland.

Lemon Balm is said to possess excellent antiviral properties. Its volatile oils have been known to destroy viruses in test tubes in as little as three hours, and this quality makes the herb especially helpful in combating cold sores and herpes virus infection. In addition, it is also thought to relieve the pain, itching, and sting of an outbreak. According to recent research, topical use of Lemon Balm speeds healing time of herpes simplex virus sores on the mouth.

It is valuable for brain and strengthens memory.It prevents brain fatigue, sharpens comprehension,counteracts depression and reverse the spirit.A cold infusion of the balm has a calming effect on the nurves.

The herb is useful in treating several other diseases. It is used in strengthening the gums and remove the bad taste from the mouth.Leaves and stems are considered useful in liver and heart diseases as also venomous insects bite.

Lemon balm essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy. The essential oil is commonly co-distilled with lemon oil, citronella oil, or other oils.

A clinical multicentric study in Germany offers evidence of the antiviral activity of a specially prepared dried extract of lemon balm against herpes simplex infections. The extract was a concentrated (70:1) dry extract of lemon balm which was included at a level of 1% in a cream base. Patients applied the cream 2-4 times daily for 5-10 days. In the group receiving the active Melissa cream, there was a significant improvement in symptoms on day two compared to the placebo group and on day five over 50% more patients were symptom-free than in the placebo group. To be effective, the treatment must be started in the very early stages of the infection.

Research has clearly demonstrated the plant’s ability to impact the limbic system of the brain and   protect   the brain from the powerful stimuli of the body and should be part of any ADHD formula.

Pediatric Use:

Lemon balm may be used topically in children to treat cold sores. The dosage would be the same as the recommendations for use in adults.

For internal use, adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child’s weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 – 25 kg), the appropriate dose of lemon balm for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

No side effects or symptoms of toxicity have been reported with lemon balm use, but this herb should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women.

Possible Interactions
Sedatives, Thyroid medications — Although not yet demonstrated in clinical studies, lemon balm may interfere with sedatives and thyroid medications. If you are taking sedatives (for sleep disorders or anxiety) or medications to regulate your thyroid, you should consult a health care provider before taking lemon balm.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Miracles Of Herbs