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I’ve seen lots of information floating around the internet touting the benefit of growing lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) on your porch as a means of repelling mosquitoes, and while that is one of the lemon balm benefits, it also has a variety of other uses. Let’s take a look at them and how they can be a useful addition to any homesteader’s garden.
Lemon Balm Benefits
Lemon balm is used for several medical purposes and is a good tool to keep in one’s arsenal.
One use is to provide aromatherapy for Alzheimer’s patients; it helps to improve one’s memory by binding to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, and enhancing its performance to help people learn and retain information.
Lemon balm is also known to help shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak. It can even decrease the number of blisters when applied topically.
A tea made from lemon balm plant leaves can reduce stress and anxiety. It can also be used as an aid in fighting insomnia since it has sedative properties
To make a calming herbal tea, steep the leaves in hot water for 5 minutes. Then strain and drink with a teaspoon of honey.
Apply topically for bug bite relief. It can inhibit the harmful activity of bacteria and viruses. Try taking a bath with an infusion of lemon balm, thyme, and sage for cold and flu relief.
Culinary Uses of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has a host of culinary uses. As mentioned above, lemon balm may be used as an herbal tea but is also a zesty addition to a black or green tea.
Here are some other uses in the kitchen
- garnish for fish or vegetables
- as a zingy addition to a salad
- lemon peel or rind substitute
- create a flavoring extract for food
- and if you’re longing for something sweet, it can even be candied.
In the Garden
Lemon balm attracts bees which are great pollinators for your garden. It also makes a plant-safe insecticide when leaves are steeped in water and then sprayed on the desired areas.
If you are a beekeeper, here’s a nice tip for your hive: rub some lemon balm leaves inside the hive. This encourages bees to stay.
Lemon balm is a wonderful aromatherapy tool. Here’s how to use it for its aromatic properties:
- add to the rinse cycle while doing laundry for a fresh fragrance
- scent homemade cleaners
- use in potpourri
- make soap with it
- use lemon balm to fight acne by adding some leaves to a large bowl of hot water and leaning over the water with a towel over your head for a steam bath. This also helps to soothe dry skin. And it makes a wonderful rinse for oily hair and nice skin toner.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a perennial plant that can grow in U.S. zones 4-9. It can be grown by sown seed, root division, or rooted cuttings.
Lemon balm grows best in full sun but can also grow in part-sun and part-shade environments. Since it is a member of the mint family, it is best to plant it in a pot to contain it as it can spread vigorously.
When harvesting lemon balm, aim to leave about four inches of the plant above the soil.
Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker
Do you remember the old root cellars our great-grandparents used to have? In fact, they probably built it themselves, right in their back yard.
If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then you need Easy Cellar.
Easy Cellar will show you:
- How to choose the ideal site
- Cost-effective building methods
- How to protect your bunker from nuclear blast and fallout
- How to conceal your bunker
- Affordable basic life support options
Easy Cellar will also reveal how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.
- America's Natural Nuclear Bunkers: Find the Closest One to Your Home
- 56 Items to Stockpile in Your Easy Cellar