Botanical name: Melissa officinalis
Plant part: Leaves and Flowers/Buds
Extraction: Steam distilled
Also known as Lemon Balm, Lemon Melissa, Sweet Oil and Common Balm, Melissa Essential Oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of the herb Melissa officinalis, a member of the Mint (Lamicaeceae) family.
This medicinal plant is native to the East Mediterranean and West Asia and has been used since ancient times for its numerous therapeutic properties.
In the 14th Century, the French Carmelite nuns drank water infused with Melissa. In the 16th century, the famous philosopher, physician and botanist Paracelsus described it as “The Elixir of Life,” and in the 17th century writer and gardener John Evelyn pronounced it to be “sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing away melancholy”.
The leaves of Melissa officinalis are quite aromatic and attractive to bees, which gives it one of its other names “Bee Balm”. However, they yield minute quantities of essential oil and it takes 7 tons of plant material to produce 1kg of pure Melissa Essential Oil making this one of the rarest and most expensive oils aside from Rose Otto and a few others.
Due to its many benefits, it has been used in numerous scientific studies for examining its effects of Alzheimer’s disease, memory issues, depression etc with great results.
It has also been used in both modern and traditional medicine as an effective remedy for various health concerns e.g. Insomnia, sleep disorders, indigestion, nausea, fungal infections, candida, viral skin infections, herpes, menopausal symptoms, nervousness, stress, anxiety-related symptoms, indigestion. hypertension, migraines, anxiety, diabetes, dementia, sores, ulcers, fungal infections, headaches, vertigo, fatigue, to help boost memory and more.
This is because of its attributed properties which include, detoxifying, antidepressant, cordial, nervine, emmenagogue, sedative, antispasmodic, stomachic, antibacterial, carminative, detoxifying, diaphoretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, sudorific, and tonic substance.
Its versatility and efficacy keep it in high demand, but due to the large amount of plant material needed to make it and the resulting high cost, true Melissa Essential Oil fetches can range between $85-$200 for a 5ml bottle. Unfortunately, this leads to it being very often adulterated with cheaper oils like Lemongrass and Citronella essential oils because when these 2 oils are combined, they produce an oil similar in scent to Melissa. It is also often chemically or synthetically mimicked and passed off as the real deal but inone of these knock offs will have its benefits or at best may give a placebo effect at.
Melissa (Lemon Balm) Essential Oil
- Melissa’s very strong antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial property makes it impervious to all kinds of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. It also helps grow resistant bacteria in the body and has been used in treating bacterial, viral and microbial infections.
- One of its most well-known traditional uses which has been confirmed by recent scientific research with very promising results is in its efficacy in treating the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 naturally and relieving its most painful symptoms e.g. blisters, ulcers, cold sores, pain during urination and vaginal discharge just by topical application. A 2008 study showed that Melissa Essential Oil exhibited a higher degree of antibacterial activity than lots of other Essential Oils against Gram-positive bacterial strains, including candida.
Helps in treating vertigo and other related which create feelings of disorientation, nausea, vomiting by relieving nausea and decrease symptoms of dizziness.
- Helps control thyroid function by reducing the number of hormones released by the thyroid gland to restore it to the normal levels. This is beneficial to people with Graves’ and other hyperthyroid related diseases, particularly in alleviating symptoms associated with this issue including inability to concentrate, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and headaches. It should not however be used by people with Hypothyroidism related issues (see caution)
- Due to its ability to act as a vasodilator, Melissa can help relieve headaches resulting from constricted blood vessels and reduce pain or discomfort from tension headaches and varicose veins.
- It is also considered an efficient nervine substance that serves as a tonic for the nervous system by helping to maintain its healthy function and prevent nervous disorders.
- It is used to promote relaxation and improve cognitive function and is thus used as an effective treatment for issues like vertigo, nervousness and convulsions.
- Melissa’s potent anti-inflammatory action helps reduce pain and inhibit oedema formation which is a swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissues usually caused by physical trauma to the area. Topical application can help relieve swelling, pain and inflammation caused by injury, arthritis, rheumatism etc.
- Research has been carried out with great results on its action as an efficient hypoglycaemic agent with antidiabetic effect to reduce symptoms of diabetes and improve weight loss and management efforts in addition to a healthy diet and exercise. A 2010 study used Melissa Essential Oil to enhance glucose uptake and metabolism in the liver, along with adipose tissue and the inhibition of gluconeogenesis (glucose formation) in the liver resulting in reduced blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and significantly higher serum insulin levels after 6 weeks of administration to test subjects in comparison to the control group.
- Attributed hypotensive, antihyperlipidemic, antiarrhythmic, neuroprotective and hepatoprotective properties are immensely beneficial to hypertensives as it helps lower blood pressure reducing the risk of a heart attack or brain hemorrhage which increases every time blood pressure spikes. Research also found that it helped reduce the heart rate of injured subjects and increase the heart’s resistance to injury.
- Melissa provides warmth to the respiratory and cardiovascular system which is beneficial in treating and preventing the frequency of coughs and other respiratory issues.
- It helps aid the smooth function of the stomach and digestive process, maintain the proper flow of gastric juices and bile into the stomach, tones and protects it from infections and aids the healing of wound, scratches or ulcers in the stomach.
- As a carminative, Melissa also helps reduce tension in the abdomen by expelling excess gas which could cause discomfort, cramping and bloating, to relieve discomfort arising from these issues e.g. colic, dysentery, spasm, dyspepsia, and vomiting.
- Its antibacterial properties are effective in hindering bacterial infections in the colon, intestines, urinary tract and kidneys.
- With diaphoretic and sudorific properties it promotes sweating which helps in the elimination of toxins and removal of harmful gases like nitrogen. This helps clean the skin’s pores allowing the skin to breathe and cool the body down to prevent overheating.
- It helps reduce fevers by fighting against the bacterial or microbial infections in the body which cause them due to its strong antibacterial action.
- Melissa is effective in easing the flow of obstructed menses, regular use is beneficial in treating irregular menses and it also helps with other issues related to periods or PMS e.g. pain, fatigue, mood swings etc. It also helps with premature menopause and post-menopausal depression amongst other symptoms.
- Its antispasmodic, sedative and relaxant properties help relieve spasms i.e. involuntary, excessive contractions which can occur in the muscular, respiratory, nervous or digestive systems which can lead to severe coughs or pain in the abdomen, cramps, shortness of breath and even convulsions.
- Melissa helps strengthen the immune system and boost proper system function due to its immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory and tonic activities.