Your cart:
You have 0 item items in your cart
View cart
Total Price
Have a question? Click here to Ask a Chef

Lemon Balm

Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Melisa officianalis Lamiaceae Southern Europe and Northern Africa

This fresh tasting herb has been used as a delicious medicinal herb and to make soothing tea, for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, lemon balm was used to treat scorpion stings and insect bites. It was added to wine to reduce anxiety and was infused in a tea used by Arabs to treat depression. Lemon balm has a long and happy history.

In London, lemon balm was a main ingredient in small bouquets that were carried around as a fresh pomander of sorts, to disguise the smell of the dirty streets. A symbol of longevity and pleasantness, lemon balm was rubbed inside bee hives to encourage the bees to return to their hives. In fact, lemon balm's botanical name, Melissa officinalis, is derived from the Greek word for honey bee. This may be why lemon balm is often confused with bee balm.

Lemon balm plants can be found all over the world and are a member of the mint family. The fragrant leaves are fresh smelling and citrusy and will develop small, yellow flowers. Reaching heights of up to two feet, fresh lemon balm leaves are often added to cold, sweet drinks for a refreshing, flavorful kick.

Leaves can also be found in potpourri and due to their oil content are sometimes used alone or in conjunction with other ingredients, to polish wood furniture.

Lemon balm is a common ingredient in commercial therapeutic teas prescribed to relieve colds and flu symptoms. This same tea is sometimes recommended to treat depression, stress and even indigestion. Lemon balm has been linked to relieving anxiety and insomnia.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Historically, lemon balm has been used to:

  • Aid digestion
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve stress
  • Freshen breath
  • As an antibacterial
  • Relieve virus symptoms
  • As an anti-oxidant
  • Induce sleep
  • Reduce symptoms of migraine

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Lemon balm has traditionally been used mostly in teas and as a garnish. However, it has the potential to add a fresh zest to many dishes. Lemon balm and mint complement each other and offer a refreshing take on chicken or fish. Try to use fresh leaves when possible, as dried ones will have lost some flavor. Add lemon balm a few minutes before serving for maximum flavor.  Food for thought:

  • To make lemon tea: steep chopped lemon balm leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  • Add a few whole lemon balm leaves to black tea
  • Add chopped lemon balm leaves to cold beverages such as lemonade to enhance the flavor
  • Add chopped or whole lemon balm to fruit or green salads
  • Make a simple syrup of lemon balm and use to make ice cream or sorbet
  • Stuff free range chicken with a mixture of fresh herbs and lemon balm and rub skin with finely chopped lemon balm before serving.
  • Lemon balm goes well with basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, chives, dill, thyme, chervil and bay leaves

view other A-Z Spices