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3.21.2012

A Haitian Treasure: Melis (Lemon Balm)

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Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis, is a perennial herb in the mint family. Lemon balm, known as melis in Haitian Creole, grows best above 70 degrees. It has a fresh, floral, sweet lemon scent, making it a popular essential oil in aroma therapy.  It is known for being purifying, balancing, and vitalizing.  This also makes it popular as a starting point for perfume materials, soap, and incense. Historically, Tibetan traditional medicine has used it to ease psychological problems, Charlemagne (King of Franks) once ordered it to be planted in every monastery garden, the Greeks dedicated it to the goddess Diana 2,000 years ago, and different cultures have used its leaves to encourage bees to return to beehives.
In Haiti, lemon balm is commonly used as tea, and that's how I'm familiar with it!  Growing up, I had simmering cups of Melis tea prepared for me for a variety of reasons. It is really good for treating colds and for calming anxiety.  But is known for being especially good at easing the discomforts associated with indigestion. Drink up!

FYI- Lemon balm is often co-distilled with citronella, a plant that is closely related to lemon balm, but is still quite different.  Haiti is one of the world's TOP producers of citronella, but not of lemon balm for whatever reason.
Source
Some Benefits:
  • naturally anti-bacteria, anti-viral, and anti-spasmodic
  • can block some of the activity of the thyroid hormone, making it popular for treating an auto-immune condition called Grave's disease
  • calms the nervous system through its citral and citronella components
  • natural astringent
  • known to be effective against herpes simplex and Alzheimer's symptoms
  • as a surgical dressing on wounds
  • serves as a mild sedative
  • can cure a range of diseases and symptoms ranging from anxiety, nausea, bloating, and gas, to tumors, rheumatism, and high blood pressure
  • extremely popular for treating cold sores on children
Some Uses:
  • tea!
  • as a cream to apply to lesions
  • as an essential oil for inhalation
  • as a natural insect repellent
  • leaves can be used for flavoring
  • as a massage oil

Have you ever had an experience with lemon balm? Please share!

The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.   Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.
Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!


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*Medical Disclaimer: Though Naïka of Naïka in Balance is in pursuit of a medical degree, she is NOT a licensed health practitioner. 
Naïka believes individuals have the power to make informed health decisions on their own. If you feel that it is necessary to consult your healthcare provider before using any of the remedies mentioned, please do so. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth.


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