Lemon Balm, or you may know this herb as Melissa, is an easy plant to grow. It likes a sunny spot, and if it can be watered every now and again it will reward you with a big bushy plant very quickly – in fact a little too quickly at times – and it is also fantastically good for the bees.
My Lemon Balm is one of the oldest plants I have planted myself in the garden at around 10 years old, it is next to my Tess of the D’Urbervilles Rose (planted for my Daughter Tess), and in the summer provides a good contrast to the deepest pink of the rose with its fresh bright green leaves. Both plants magically are associated with Love, so they make a good companion planting combination. It does, however, get a little too big for its boots at times, and I need to chop it back, so early on I was keen to learn what I could do with Lemon Balm. I will share another post shortly for other things you can do with Lemon Balm leaves.
What is it used for? Lemon Balm is known to have anti-viral properties and is good for frayed nerves. If you smell the leaves, they have a lemony, slightly minty smell, that will immediately uplift the spirits. It is also very gentle, and in most cases it is considered find to use small amounts for children. You can chew on a leaf and it will help ease upset stomachs and colicky type symptoms. You can also gently crush and place on a bite or sting to help stop the itching. I am making this batch for a night-time massage oil (I am adding Lavender to my blend also). Just a few drops rubbed into the wrists, neck and shoulders when you get in the bed, can help stop the mind from racing.
As mentioned above, magically Lemon Balm is associated with love and attracting love, so this is a great herb to use for any love magic, or in the pursuit of romance. Lemon Balm is thought to attract love into your life. It is lovely to throw a few fresh leaves into the bath for a quick attracting love ritual.
Infusion; You can use this method for infusing herbs and plants into oil for almost everything. I prefer the ‘sunny windowsill’ method. So, this is what I am sharing here.
Firstly, you will need;
- A carrier oil. I am using Sweet Almond Oil as it absorbs quickly, is a pale oil and has very little fragrance, allowing the herb to shine through, it is also not too expensive. You can also use fractionated Coconut Oil, Olive Oil or Jojoba. Be mindful of nut allergies.
- A Jar for the herbs and oil.
- A bottle to store your infused oil.
- Enough herbs to fill the jar without cramming.
What to do? Pick your herbs on a sunny day, when they are warm, mid-morning is thought to be the best, as they should contain the maximum amount of vital oils at this time. I lay mine out to dry for around 24 hours, this will just take some of the moisture out of them. Any water in your oil may lead to the oil going bad and increase the chance of bacteria.
Gently pack your leaves into the jar and when nearly full, but not packed too tightly, add your oil, all the way to the top. Use a small spoon or fork to gently push the herbs down releasing any air bubble. You should then sit your little jar on a sunny windowsill for 4-6 weeks until it is infused. I don’t shake my oils, but some people do, and some people prefer a cool, dark place to infuse, experiment and do what works for you.
After 4-6 weeks, take the lid off, if it smells intense the oil is probably ready to go. If you have any residue on the top, just lift it off – the oil underneath should be fine. Gently pour the liquid out through a sieve and into another jar and bowl and just let it all trickle out without forcing, leave it for 10 minutes or so if you can, gently draining. This is the oil you can store, and it will keep happily in a dark, cool place for 9-12 months.
You can usually get a ‘second press’ from the green gunk in the sieve. Push it gently into another bowl and squeeze out the last bits of oil. This oil will usually not store great, as it will have a higher moisture content, so you can use this oil immediately or within 1-4 weeks.
I am simply going to be using this batch for a body oil as I said above, but of course you can add to homemade lotion bars, lip balms and moisturisers as you please. The lovely thing about Lemon Balm is not matter what you use it for, you will always feel like someone has given you a hug, and even better the Bees will love you for growing it.
Haile x o