Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

By Jalapeno Gal77 -via APN

Lemon Balm Herb Lemon Balm is well known for its calming properties, much like a tranquilizer when sipped in tea.  I have found it great to start and end my day with as it calms me mentally and physically.  Lemon balm also seems to restrain the growth of virus and bacteria and because of these properties it is commonly used for cold sores, to induce sweating in those with fever, cleaning sores and cuts, and can be used on insect bites and stings.  Lemon Balm has no known reactions from its use and has been used medicinally and in culinary dishes for over 2000 years.

Lemon Balm Uses:
  1. Lemon Balm Tea: You can add dried or fresh leaves in a glass jar and fill with water.  Set it in the sun for some delicious, lemony, afternoon tea.  Strain the tea and then you can drink it warm or in a glass full of ice.  I love to add fresh cut lemon or a few fresh sprigs of lemon balm to add to the taste and to make it inviting to the eyes.
  2. Lemon Balm Syrup:  Add a 1/2 cup of dried herb to 4-5 quarts of water.  Let that simmer on low for about 30 minutes.  Add 3  1/2 cups of sugar and let cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until it thickens.  Pour over pancakes, ice cream or waffles.  You can also add this to your hot Lemon Balm tea to sooth the throat and make it sweeter.  (much like honey)
  3. Lemon Balm Insect Repellant:  Add a good handful or fresh or dried lemon balm leaves to a quart of vodka and let seep for 4 weeks.  After 4 weeks, strain out the leaves and add to a spray bottle. You can also put in mint leaves or citronella leaves to help make it stronger or make it smell different.  All 3 of those will help repel mosquitoes, fleas, biting flies etc.
  4. Lemon Balm Toothpaste:  Make a strong Lemon Balm oil infusion.  Add enough of it to 2 tablespoons of baking soda to make it pasty.  This will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth.  If you don’t like the lemony taste you can add Cinnamon to the paste or mint leaves to the infusion.
  5.  Lemon Balm Infusion:  Rather than type out all the instructions I am going to redirect you to the link I use to make mine. :)
  6. Lemon Balm Salve:  Lemon Balm can be made into a salve to be used on cold sores, cuts, herpes, or shingles.  The chemicals in the lemon balm help in the healing of viral skin infections.  Used on a regular basis, it can help with the outbreak of herpes.
  7. Lemon Balm Sitz Bath:  Make an infusion and place in a jar. Let it sit for about 6 hours or overnight is better. It allows for all the chemicals in the lemon balm to seep into the infusion. Pour into a shallow bath and soak for 20 minutes. this will help heal the sores of herpes. It will also help if you have boils. Boils are caused by a skin infection.
There are other uses such as air freshener, to make your laundry smell better or to light rub the oil on your body after a bath using a wash cloth with a little lemon balm infusion dripped onto it.  My personal Favorite, and my families, is the lemon balm tea with added enchinacea and Valerian when they are sick.  The flavor is wonderful and it stops the coughing.  Because of its calming effect, it also puts them right to sleep. ;)

Growing Lemon Balm:

Start your Lemon Balm Seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost.  To start your seeds you will need light.  Lightly tap seeds just under the top soil.  You can also use those seed starting kits or trays if you desire to.  When transplanting into a larger pot or into the ground, Lemon Balm prefers a moist, well-drained soil.  It has beautifully light green, heart shaped leaves and can grow up to 24 inches in height.  You do not want to over water but keeping the soil moist will make the lemon balm scent much stronger.

When you transplant your plant, wait until you see its second set of leaves and then introduce it to the outdoor elements a few hours at a time gradually increasing the time spent outdoors per day.  You do not want your plant to go into shock by just moving it outdoors and leaving it.  That would be much like stepping into a steaming bath of hot water.  It will shock and burn your skin.  This is a common mistake people tend to make when starting seeds indoors and moving their plant outdoors.

Once your plant has begun to get thick, you can harvest the leaves at any time for use.  To help your plant grow larger and thicker, snip off the top of the plant at the node.

Definition of Node: A node is the area from a plants stem where the leaves grow.

Stem_nodesIf you do not want to grow you Lemon Balm from a seed, the plant can be found at almost any nursery.  Below is a wonderful drink that can be made from your Lemon balm and served to guests:
  • 6 cups of honey
  • 2 cups of lemon vodka or white rum
  • 3/4 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup freshly cut lemon balm leaves (lightly packed) or mint leaves
  • 8 lemon slices
  • Stir in honey and 5 tablespoons of hot water into a pitcher and stir until dissolved.  Stir in vodka and lemon juice, and then add two cups of ice cubes.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Squeeze Lemon Balm or mint leaves until well bruised and add to pitcher.  Pour over ice in glasses and add fresh lemon slice to each glass.  Serve and enjoy!
I hope you all have fun with Lemon Balm and remember its medicinal qualities when you need it.  I know it has sure helped our family in times of needs for colds and coughs and is much cheaper than NyQuil. :)

Keepin It Spicy,
Jalapeño Gal