Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis
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Melissa officinalis, known as lemon balm, balm or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae, native to south-central Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean region, and Central Asia.
It grows to 70–150 cm tall. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. The white flowers attract bees, hence the genus name Melissa (Greek for ‘honey bee’).
Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies. It can be used in fish dishes and is the key ingredient in lemon balm pesto. It might be a better, healthier preservative than butylated hydroxy anisole in sausages.
In the traditional Austrian medicine, M. officinalis leaves have been prescribed for internal (as tea) or external (essential oil) application for the treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, liver, and bile. Lemon balm essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy.