Lemon Balm Hydrosol

The last Hydrosol mix of the week included 2 of the ingredients that are also in this weeks' mix (see the earlier article to read about Sage and Cornflower), so for this article, I will concentrate on Lemon Balm (INCI: Melissa Officinalis).

The INCI name originates from Greek and translates to 'honey bee'. It is believed the plant got its name because of its excellent bee-attracting capabilities while flowering. If you know your herbs, you'll immediately recognize – by looking at the leaves – that Lemon Balm belongs to the mint family.

Pricy Stuff

As common as this plant may be, Lemon Balm essential oil is among the priciest, and, oddly, also quite difficult to source. This is one of the reasons I have never really worked with this essential oil.

Come to think of it, I've never even smelled this essential oil. My years of experience with Lemon Balm is solely with the hydrosol, which has a wonderfully crisp-green-lemony scent and is reminiscent of the taste of the leaves. (They're quite refreshing. You may find them adorning your dessert in trendy restaurants.)

Multifunctional and Safe

The fact that the 'Melissa' name is followed by 'Officinalis' means this plant has a history of medicinal use, and there are several documented effects. Aside from helping towards relieving anxiety and having an overall calming effect, Lemon Balm also assists towards sharpening mental focus.

It is gentle enough to be put into baby products and safe for use during pregnancy. For skin, it offers excellent antioxidant properties, and is effective towards clearing up problem skin, calming rashes and even fighting skin infections. I've seen good results with it for combination skin.

Cocktail Magic

Although I love the way this hydrosol functions on it's own, I have found it does even better as part of a mix. I've pretty much tried blending it with every hydrosol I use, and it has never disappointed.

Lemon Balm adds a summery-sweet freshness to just about any blend, and often seems to 'anchor' a mixture (read: the scent remains uniform through the duration of the products use). It has functioned exceptionally with Cornflower and Sage in this weeks hydrosol mix.

Some Documented Properties of Lemon Balm

- antibacterial
- antiviral
- mood and mental performance improver
- antioxidant
- antispasmodic
- antiflammatory

Additional Properties (undocumented)

- antiaging
- mosquito repellant (although I think citronella and lemongrass have this market cornered, it could be worth doing a mix of these 3 next summer to test as a natural mosquito-repellant spray)


Unknown said…
Hi, how could I increase the shelf life of a homemade hydrosol naturally?
Thanks in advance
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown -- The best way is to ensure the product is pure and packaged properly. Use purified water to distill, use only prime plant material, and package and store optimally. There are hydrosol/plant distilling associations that can help you with this. :)