Lemon Balm, or Melissa, is most often used by herbalists for its essential oils, although you’ll rarely find Lemon Balm essential oil for sale at your local herb and essential oil shops. This weedy member of the mint family isn’t the densely packed essential oil powerhouse many of it’s cousins are; Lavender and Spearmint are generally among the most inexpensive essential oils on the shelf because they offer distillers a good yield of essential oil per pound of plant material, often in the neighborhood of 1 kg of oil per 100 kg of plant. Compared to the 10,000 kg it takes to extract 1 kg of Lemon Balm essential oil, you can see why Lemon Balm essential oil is both expensive and fairly rare.
Even with that in mind, Lemon Balm essential oil offers a lot of gentle healing power that shouldn’t be overlooked. From an energetic perspective, Lemon Balm is universally considered cooling. Within the Ayurvedic system it’s also pungent. Traditional Western herbalists include sour while Traditional Chinese Herbalists include drying in their description of Lemon Balm. Although the words used to describe the properties of Lemon Balm essential oil differ, the conditions it’s used to relieve are much the same.
Lemon Balm is best known as an essential oil that supports balanced mental-emotional states. A few drops in combination with others, such as lavender or Juniper, can help stabilize folks who feel anxious or depressed. Lemon Balm’s affinity is for those who feel oppressed in their current lives. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, this can result from a stagnation of Qi energy. Liver and Heart heat call for Lemon Balm’s cooling quality as does a disturbed shen. In the context of Ayurveda, Lemon Balm is helpful in reducing excess Pitta and balancing Vata, offering a cooling touch to the overheated thought patterns that result when Vata is either excessive or insufficient.
On a more physical level, folks who are best served by Lemon Balm essential oil are those who are prone to digestive strife. They often suffer from indigestion, nervous stomach, nausea or flatulence due to poor function in their digestive system. Traditional Chinese Herbalists will notice symptoms of Liver and Heart heat and may also note disturbed Lung Qi symptoms, such as bronchitis, coughing, or nervous asthma.
Folks who struggle with matters of the heart, be they physical in nature, like hypertension or similar heart conditions, or be they emotional in nature, such as insomnia and nervous agitation, can benefit from the soothing nature of Lemon Balm essential oil. In either case, partner Lemon Balm with other heart soothers, like lavender or helichrysum or rose geranium. A grounding component, such as ginger or Atlas cedarwood, can help when an agitated heart or emotional complex is accompanied by racing thoughts or a flighty mind. For folks who struggle with depression, a mildly lifting and stimulating essential oil like Rosemary or Bergamot blends well with Lemon Balm to sooth the heart and lift the spirits.
Traditional Western Herbalists classify Lemon Balm as an herb of Cancer, which means it’s got a strong affinity for helping to soothe and heal at our emotional roots. Lemon Balm essential oil is like the proverbial mother’s hug, gentle and strong enough to help us calm the emotional waters we find ourselves in particularly when the situation is beyond our ability to control. Folks who feel oppressed and intensely angry about it can find peace within Lemon Balm’s cooling embrace. Helichrysum is a particularly good partner for Lemon Balm when the pain has migrated inward, creating a huge and deep wound, as is Yarrow. When comfort-eating is the go-to tool for dealing with the pain, grapefruit essential oil is a good partner for Lemon Balm.