Among the medicinal herbs, lemon balm is one of the plants that are underestimated and sometimes even forgotten - wrongly so. In the following guide, we present their diverse areas of application and modes of action.
Lemon balm - what is it exactly?
Lemon balm is a plant that, like peppermint and chamomile, has been in most gardens for decades - but few garden owners are aware of its special effects. Because lemon balm is a medicinal plant with many areas of application. Nevertheless, the plant is cultivated mainly for its lemony-fresh, slightly minty scent, which it exudes in the garden in summer and which becomes even more intense when rubbing the leaves between your fingers. Lemon balm contains many essential oils, which can help with conditions such as insomnia, stomach pain or restlessness.
The use of lemon balm in natural medicine looks back on a long tradition: Already in the Middle Ages people knew about its special healing powers - at that time it was mainly cultivated in monastery gardens and was taken because of its calming effect on the stomach, for example in the form of lemon balm Tea. But lemon balm is also enjoying increasing popularity in the kitchen these days.
Lemon balm and its uses in the kitchen
A wonderful way to use and preserve lemon balm is to make a syrup. You will also need fresh lemons, water, some citric acid and sugar. The syrup later refines your mineral water, but also sparkling wine and cocktails with a fresh, sparkling aroma.
In addition, lemon balm is an excellent herb for fish dishes, which comes into its own when the leaves of the plant are processed gently. For example, you can put them in the oven together with the fish, wrapped in aluminum foil. The aroma becomes even more intense if the chopped leaves are sprinkled over the dish just before serving. Lemon balm can also harmoniously complement fresh summer salads - this can also be fruit salads. However, you should only use freshly picked leaves here, since dried lemon balm leaves do not have such an intense aroma.
In recent years, more and more jellies, jams, jams and even pesto have been made from lemon balm. Lemon balm can also be used for sorbets, panna cotta or ice cream and provides a fine, fresh taste.
Because lemon balm is relatively good for drying, the leaves can be used all year round - although fresh leaves have a much more intense aroma. To preserve, cut the stems from the plant in small bunches, tie them together and hang them up to dry in an airy but not too bright place. After just a few weeks, the leaves have dried and can be used in the kitchen as desired.
Lemon balm as a medicinal herb with special powers
Lemon balm has enjoyed a good reputation as a valuable medicinal herb for many centuries. Already in ancient times, many scholars knew that the plant can have a calming, mood-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, lemon balm is also a popular phytotherapeutic agent in modern medicine. The blossoms and leaves of lemon balm are rich in essential oils and secondary plant substances such as nerol, citral, geraniol and tannins such as rosmarinic acid. The plant also contains flavonoids such as apigenin or luteolin and even caffeic acid. It is not without reason that lemon balm has special effects on our body: it is said to relieve stress, relieve cramps and anxiety, have an antibacterial and sleep-inducing effect on our organism.
In homeopathy, the focus is particularly on the calming or relaxing mode of action. That is why naturopathic doctors are happy to recommend preparations with lemon balm if a patient suffers from insomnia or nervousness. The dried herbs can be taken either pure or together with other herbs such as lavender or valerian.
A popular home remedy for stomach problems, the first symptoms of a cold, menstrual pain or anxiety disorders is lemon balm tea, which can be easily brewed from fresh leaves and hot water.
Buy lemon balm - what to look out for
If you don't grow lemon balm yourself, but want to buy it, you should make sure it grows vigorously with many large leaves. Quite a few quickly raised plants have hanging, weak stems, which should be as stable as possible. It is also important to ensure that the leaves do not have any brown or light spots, as these can be an indication of a plant disease. It is also often confused with peppermint because both plants look very similar. However, lemon balm can be recognized immediately by its smell, because it has an intense lemony-minty scent. Fresh lemon balm is now available in many supermarkets, while dried leaves can be found in herbal shops, health food stores and pharmacies, but also on the Internet. Because growing lemon balm is relatively easy, many people also choose to cultivate it on the balcony or in the garden.
Tips for using lemon balm
Fresh or dried lemon balm leaves can be brewed into an aromatic tea, which can help you fall asleep in the evening. In addition, lemon balm is also available in the form of juice, as tablets or capsules and as tinctures in pharmacies or on the Internet. For external use, such as antibacterial treatment for cold sores, an ointment is the right choice.
Another classic home remedy for treating insomnia and restlessness. The preparation mentioned above as an evening tea is particularly suitable for this. Many naturopaths still rely on the effects of lemon balm spirit for various physical ailments.
Popular medicinal plant: what should be considered when using lemon balm?
In general, lemon balm is considered a well-tolerated and gentle food. However, it cannot be ruled out that allergic reactions to the plant and its ingredients may occur in individual cases. If in doubt, pregnant or breastfeeding women should first consult their doctor or midwife to find out whether it would make sense to use it. Anyone who likes to enjoy a freshly brewed lemon balm tea should not take it permanently, but only drink it when they want to counteract sleep disorders and restlessness in a natural way.
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