Herb balm, also known as sweet balm or lemon balm, is a wonderful perennial plant that produces edible blooms. The leaves, when crushed, give off a lemon fragrance.
That's the nice thing about this wonderful plant. If you're lucky, you might find a patch of lemon balm already growing somewhere nearby.
Balm often grows wild in fields and gardens and along roadsides. The stems are upright and can grow as high as three feet.
But keep in mind that lemon balm is different from bee balm. While both will attract insects, bee balm works more as a skin antiseptic, while lemon balm can be taken medicinally to help ease anxiety, among other things.
Make an infusion of balm by placing the fresh or dried leaves in a cup and covering them with boiling water. Then allow them to steep for ten minutes. This infusion - or tea - can help treat nervous disorders, indigestion and/or excitability developing from nervous disorder, hyperthyroidism and depression, anxiety, palpitations and tension headaches.
This lemon balm tea is also safe for children. Sweeten it with honey and give it to soothe a child who is overly anxious.
Lemon balm tea is also a good remedy to take when you are suffering from a cold or flu, because lemon balm produces perspiration to help rid your body of toxins.
If you want your balm in a more convenient form, you can also purchase lemon balm capsules (find some here). Take these capsules the next time you are suffering from sleeplessness or when you have a stomach disorder.
Those with glaucoma shouldn't take lemon balm, as the oil in balm can raise pressure in the eye. Also, wear gloves when harvesting balm; too much contact with balm may give you dermatitis.
Another thing to remember is to watch out for bees. They love balm!
Fresh lemon balm leaves are used to give a lemon flavor to soups, salads and sauces.
You will need a well-drained, sandy soil to grow balm.
Add mulch, as balm prefers a moist soil.
Balm likes a partial shade, so plant your balm close to the downspout by your home. You can also grow balm in a cold frame. If you plan to grow your balm from seeds, start it indoors.
You can also grow sweet balm in a container, but you will need to keep the soil moist.