As August slides into September, we start to crave those cooling temperatures and changing leaves. Change and transformation are all around us in the natural world and that can inspire us to look inward and see what we’d like to work on changing as well. Mama Nature is the ultimate inspiration and adviser. Is there something you’ve felt niggling the back of your mind or tingling in your soul? The trees will be shedding lots of things that won’t serve them in the coming months. They will focus energy into the roots and dig in deeper to connect to what brings them sustenance in the bleak months of the cold and rain, why not join them? Book a consultation* to talk about what you’d like to shake off, flip the script or embrace, connect or ally with. As with everything there are herbs to help, whether it's a tea, tincture, or new food recipes, there are options.
Herb of the Month-
Lemon Balm, what a glorious little plant, she reminds me of the Shakespeare quote “Though she be but little she is fierce.”
Written history of using lemon balm dates back well in time to the Ancient Greeks and Arabians where it’s Latin name “melissa officiinalis” comes from the Greek word for BEE because this little beauty attracts bees like few other plants. In fact apiaries would often plant around hives to guide the bees home. Often new hives are rubbed down with lemon balm to pull the bees inside. This spurs the common name “bee balm” although I use bee balm to describe Monarda plants- just an example of why “official names” do help.
Lemon balm grows in most any warm spot and can get quite leggy, growing about 3 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide. It’s a member of the mint family but does NOT spread like a mint. It’s seeds however are teeny and love to hitch rides on the wind, spreading all over your yard. It’s like a never ending scavenger hunt to see where she’ll pop up when you plant Lemon Balm in your garden but since it’s such a valuable plant, I’ve never minded finding it alongside my roses.
This is one of the longest used plant allies and she often gets taken for granted or overlooked when something cool and exotic comes along but she’s like that old friend you grew up with and can pick up right where you left off whenever you meet back up again.
Lemon Balm is the common name for the plant melissa officiinalis. The first part of course is because it’s flavor is so close to the lemon. Balm is a nickname of sorts referring to the word balsam which is actually means “An aromatic resinous substance, such as balm, exuded by various trees and shrubs and used as a base for certain fragrances and medical and cosmetic preparations.” BUT, I like to think of it as a balm using the second definition of something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect because that is what lemon balm does BEST. It comforts and restores.
Let’s talk physical- The ancients were well aware of her restorative powers. Ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist Dioscorides used the leaves steeped in wine to treat snakebites and scorpion stings. In her book A Modern Herbal,renown herbalist Maud Grieve wrote in 1931 “It is now recognized as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of aromatic plants make excellent surgical dressings: they give off ozone and thus exercise anti-putrescent effects. Being chemical hydrocarbons, they contain so little oxygen that in wounds dressed with the fixed balsamic herbal oils, the atomic germs of disease are starved out, and the resinous parts of these balsamic oils, as they dry upon the sore or wound, seal it up and effectually exclude all noxious air.” So use lemon balm to wash a wound. You could brew a strong tea, strain and after you’ve completely washed any debris out of the wound, pour the cooling tea over the wound several times a day. You could infuse witch hazel with fresh lemon balm leaves and a bit of thyme or St. john’s wort and use this to clean the wound or as a face astringent. You could also put the cooled tea in a spray bottle with a little vegetable glycerin to stabilize it and spritz your face or other ares as a lift up after being out in the sun or a vigorous work out.
Lemon Balm is a very gentle and safe nervine, a nervine is something that works to feed, nourish, calm, soothe and strengthen nerves and the entire nervous system. You can use it in an acute case, like a panic attack or to help long term issues like anxiety and PTSD. Energetically Lemon Balm works the head region and the stomach, often called the second brain. This combo is one of the reasons I like it so much for trauma. When we experience any situation or sensation that reminds us (triggers) back to to a situation that was traumatic, our flight or fight responses get tapped. One of the very first practices in the body when it is in F or F is to shut down digestion and any extra energy that digestion would use. This is a really great way to ensure that our limbs get all the energy and can respond to the stress appropriately by either fighting or getting the heck out dodge. Sadly if we have or are experiencing a chronic level of stress or even unresolved emotions around that stress, our digestive system remains in a state of let’s call it “Not Optimal” working order. We may still digest food in the way that we move it through the body but we can become impaired in the way it doesn’t absorb the proper nutrients or food stays in the system too long or perhaps not long enough. Lemon balm works to soothe and bring back some blood flow to the stomach, helping us re boot or regulate what has been on a long pause. It has a way of balancing the acid/alkaline ratio too which often gets out of order when we are stressed because of the lack of blood flow to it and the foods we often turn to soothe or disassociate from the situation.
Now back to that energetic head region. All herbs have an affinity area even though herbs never just work on one part of the body. Lemon Balm’s primary affinity area is the head, because it’s kinda a nerve rich area. Anyway, as part of it’s relationship to the head, she helps soothe headaches, bring blood flow to the brain and nourishes it. This makes LB a great herb to assist with memory and issues like ADD/ADHD. Just remember this is a MILD action and shouldn’t be used to replace any medication and it typically works better with other herbs especially if you are looking to experience dramatic results. Lemon balm is definitely anti depressive and anti anxiety but using it long term is the best way to really heal those issues or any issue with trauma. My trauma tea has other nervines and herbs for the heart that come together with Lemon Balm as it’s leader to help comfort and open you up to making peace.
Lemon Balm has a long term association with helping us come to terms with things we’d rather not handle. This reminds me of seeking advice from a grandparent, they will hug you, rub your back and/or feed you a meal BUT they are still going to make you do the work. Lemon Balm, won’t make you forget your troubles and bliss out, but it will make the issues not loom over you like monsters.
Lemon Balm has many “anti- properties”-anti inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antiviral. To put it more simply, she wards off inflammation which as I’ve said before, can be linked to every illness. She cleans up infection and those nasty bits that we can’t see without a microscope and she protects us from viruses wreaking havoc. In this quaint leaf, we find a powerhouse of help. I hope you find that you are gravitating to her more and more after learning a few of her abilities this month.
Lemon Balm Blueberry Chia Jam
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup finely chopped fresh lemon balm
1-2 tsp fresh lavender
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp lemon juice
3 TBSP Chia Seed
1-4 TBSP Maple Syrup depending on how sweet you want it
Place Blueberries and water in a pan, heat and mash. As it starts to bubble add in the herbs and the maple syrup - Make it to your taste and depending on the sweetness of the blueberries. After it thickens slightly add the lemon juice and the Chia seeds. Remove from heat and let it cool, jar and keep it in the fridge. It'll keep for a week or so. It's so yummy on toast, pancakes or diluted in a salad dressing. Play with it on ice cream in yogurts and marinades.
Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
1 TBSP Shallots, very finely chopped
1/3 Cup fresh Lemon Balm, finely chopped or 2 TBSP dried
1/2 tsp lemon zest
7 TBSP Lemon Juice, fresh
3 TBSP White Wine Vinegar or ACV
1-2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 Cup of Grapeseed Oil
Mix it all together and let it be for about 30 minutes to marry the flavors well. It's fabulous on a green salad or a light dressing for fish or even poultry. Such a cool and mild dressing.
Lemon Balm Rosemary, Lemon Zest sugar
2 cups of white sugar divided into 1 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup of fresh lemon balm with leaves removed from stems
10 inch sprig of rosemary, leaves removed from stem
Place 1 1/2 cup of sugar in a food processor and pulse with the herbs and the lemon zest until well mixed. Add in the other 1/2 cup of sugar and pulse again. Store in the fridge for a week to 10 days. Use in teas or in baking recipes.
Lemon Balm, Rosemary Lemon Baked Donuts
1 cup flour- we used Bob’s 1 to 1 GF
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup LB, Rosemary Lemon Sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup buttermilk or whatever milk you like, Buttermilk has a nice twang and makes a soft crumb
1 large egg
1 teaspoon oil of choice, grape seed is lovely as it's mild
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350F degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, milk, egg, oil and vanilla.
Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the applesauce mixture. Using a spoon mix until just combined. Do not overmix or the doughnuts will be tough.
Use a pastry bag, or large plastic bag, to pipe the mixture into the donut pan. Alternatively, you can spoon the batter into the molds, but the finished doughnuts may not appear as even.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed gently around the edges.
Removethem asap and tossed them in left over sugar mix. Enjoy warm!
Carlemite water, IS NOT WATER but is traditionally an infused wine invented by the Carmelite nuns. The earliest discovered written recipe is from the 1300’s but it’s possible it was used before that time as record keeping is often lost to history. There are several different variations you can make of this wine but the base is pretty much always lemon balm, angelica and wine.
Some medicinal reasons for this combo would be Lemon Balm’s ability to lift the mood from either anxiety or depression, it’s use on memory and cognitive function, and the way it helps with sleep. Angelica root is primarily used as a digestive aid but does have anti inflammatory properties and will help with fevers and insomnia. Both herbs are wonderful at helping the insurmountable seem less intimidating and many say that Angelica has the energy of “holding you”. THIS combo is a must for so many people right now.
My personal account of using this remedy was quite remarkable-
I’d never had such an immediate and profound reaction to well, anything. The phrase that came to mind was “right as rain”. Everything energetically tightened up like a human Bounty quicker picker upper towel and reabsorbed all my energy that was leaking out. I noticed not only a lightness in spirit but in me physically. Each time, I’ve had another glass, it’s been the same and the effects are lasting longer after each dose. Other friends and clients have reported similar reactions and have added that they are sleeping deeper and noticed less stomach discomfort.
Recipe for Carmelite Water -
1.5 liters of white wine- I prefer a sweet wine here but go with one you usually enjoy.
1/4 cup dried Angelica Rt
2 cups fresh Lemon Balm or 3/4 cup dried
1 lemon rind, peeled
freshly grated nutmeg. - About 1/3 of a nut. Nutmeg is a great herb for relaxing and blends the tastes of Angelica and LB beautifully, it’s often used to help people stay asleep if they have issues waking in the middle of the night.
Feel free to add in some cinnamon, chamomile, roses, calendula or whatever ally you feel drawn to add.
Mix all together and taste periodically for flavor. Usually 2-4 hours and then strain. Store in the fridge.
The recommended dose is a standard 6-8 oz glass of wine but go with what you like.
You can also make this into a tea and store for a few days in the fridge. Try it a syrup in other teas or over something lovely and vanilla like ice cream or a slice of cake. As always play with it!
Herbs Tips for August
Lemon balm works wonders for cold sores. Use a LB lipbalm, infused oil or even dried crushed leaves directly on the sore
Lemon Balm blends in tea with almost ANY herb- try it with mint, tulsi, rosemary or chamomile.
Adding lemon balm to dishes in your kitchen will brighten both the taste of the dish and your disposition
August 31st- Last day for the coupon code- BetterW/herbs saves 20%
Sept 1st- While supplies last all orders will receive a braid of Sweetgrass
Sept 6th- Closed for Labor Day
Sept 24th - Closed
Sept 25th - Crystalline Expo at Rothchild’s
Heads up for The Herb of the Month, Sept- Elder
* All consults are moved to the phone for the near future as Covid numbers continue to increase in the Knoxville area
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.