Lemon balm was named “Herb of the Year” in 2007 by the International Herb Association. This doesn’t come as a surprise because this surprising plant is capable of just about everything. Its uses are many: from the kitchen to the outdoors, lemon balm is an extremely versatile and useful plant. The best thing is that it’s easy to grow in the comfort of your own garden. In this article, we’ll explain the top 9 reasons why you need to grow lemon balm in your garden.

Calms the Mind

Lemon balm is known for its soothing psychological properties. Indigenous tribes have used this powerful remedy for centuries as a way of enhancing spiritual experiences and treating stress. To reap the benefits of this wonder plant, finely chop its leaves and boil them in water. After a few minutes strain the liquid and slowly consume it. Optionally, you may use the leaves to extract their oil, which may be rubbed onto the skin (after being diluted with water) which is said to cause a relaxing effect. Alternatively, pre-made pills containing lemon balm may be purchased from your local pharmacy.



Improves Sleep

According to research by a German study, the consumption of products containing lemon balm may be useful in getting more restful sleep. The mentioned study found that lemon balm aids in peaceful and deep sleep amongst participants who consumed the product daily. A similar study also found that menopausal woman suffering from sleep disruptions reported much better sleep after consuming lemon balm extract, as opposed to those who took other supplements. It is recommended to consume the substance thirty minutes to an hour before sleep as to allow its properties to produce their effects.



Boosts Alertness

Even though lemon balm can help to calm the mind, it also increases your alertness levels. The natural compounds in the leaves improve energy levels and may come in handy in certain situations where concentration is needed such as before an important exam. In fact, an Australian study found that the herb caused considerable improvement amongst patients who had consumed it; likewise, it found the plant to improve mood and increase happiness. It is important to consume lemon balm products with moderation because excessive consumption may lead to side effects for certain people, such as headaches or insomnia.



Mosquito Repellant

Mosquitos despise the chemical make-up of lemon balm, especially a compound called citronellal, which gives the plant its sweet, lemony scent. The plant offers great flexibility when it comes to repelling bugs: it can be directly rubbed onto the skin to protect vulnerable areas, it can be made into a lotion by combining it with oil (olive) and applied to the skin, and it can be boiled and placed into a spray bottle for convenient, long-lasting use. The substance may also be used on children and animals provided that they do not have any allergies to the related substances. Some people even make candles from lemon balm, which give off a delightful scent while at the same time repelling mosquitos.



Boosts Immune System

Lemon balm is loaded with antioxidants that prevent free radical cell damage, amongst other benefits. A chemical known as Quercetin protects weakened cells and increases the defense levels of the immune system. Other health-related benefits include: increased liver performance, adequate blood sugar levels, protection of brain cells, and younger and brighter skin. Daily intake of lemon balm or products containing it may be the key to a sustainable and balanced lifestyle. This miracle plant may be consumed in many ways: eating it directly, as a brew, in salads, and even mixed in with desserts.



Homemade Tea

Tea is one of the best and most well-known uses of lemon balm. A variety of recipes may be used for a refreshing and homemade tea, perfect for a hot summer evening (if served with ice) or a relaxing winter afternoon (if served hot). To make one serving of lemon balm tea, you may use either dried or fresh leaves. If using dried, mix one tablespoon of leaves for each cup of boiling water, allow it to sit for a few minutes and drain it carefully. If using fresh leaves, use two tablespoons. You can also experiment by adding different herbs such as mint or anise to achieve a certain flavor balance.



Cleaning Aid

Lemon balm is surprisingly effective as a cleaning agent for various surfaces including wood and marble countertops. It may also be used on dirty windows or walls (as long as the paint is resistant to the herb). To make a cleaning herb vinegar, begin by shaking the dried plants to remove any dead insects. Then mix equal amounts of rosemary, thyme, pine, mint and lemon balm. Fill a jar with the herbs and add equal amounts of water and vinegar. Seal the jar and remove any excess air. The substance may be used for two weeks.



Culinary Uses

Besides being used for teas, lemon balm is also extremely useful for a variety of culinary uses. The fragrant scent and beautiful lush leaves make an extraordinary addition to any meal or dessert. For salads, dried lemon balm leaves may be added for a sweet touch; toss it directly into a fresh salad or mix it with salt, pepper, oregano and mint for a feisty combination of flavors. Another idea is to add dried leaves into butter for a scrumptious herb butter which may be used on fish or other seafood. Lemon balm also finds many uses in making desserts: use lemon balm oil to add a zesty but mellow touch to frostings, batters and other recipes.



Scented Bags

Known best for its light and inviting scent, lemon balm is best used as an air freshener. To make your own fresh and homemade air freshening bags, cut up a handful of lemon balm leaves and allow them to dry in the oven in low heat, or place them into the sun to dry. Afterwards, mix the dried leaves with other scents such as mint or rosemary and place them into a cloth bag and hang it from the room or place it into a quiet location. The resulting product emits a calm and inviting scent, great for homes and other indoor areas.



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