A Haitian Treasure: Melis (Lemon Balm)

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Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis, is a perennial herb in the mint family. Lemon balm, known as melis in Haitian Creole, grows best above 70 degrees. It has a fresh, floral, sweet lemon scent, making it a popular essential oil in aroma therapy.  It is known for being purifying, balancing, and vitalizing.  This also makes it popular as a starting point for perfume materials, soap, and incense. Historically, Tibetan traditional medicine has used it to ease psychological problems, Charlemagne (King of Franks) once ordered it to be planted in every monastery garden, the Greeks dedicated it to the goddess Diana 2,000 years ago, and different cultures have used its leaves to encourage bees to return to beehives.
In Haiti, lemon balm is commonly used as tea, and that's how I'm familiar with it!  Growing up, I had simmering cups of Melis tea prepared for me for a variety of reasons. It is really good for treating colds and for calming anxiety.  But is known for being especially good at easing the discomforts associated with indigestion. Drink up!

FYI- Lemon balm is often co-distilled with citronella, a plant that is closely related to lemon balm, but is still quite different.  Haiti is one of the world's TOP producers of citronella, but not of lemon balm for whatever reason.
Some Benefits:
  • naturally anti-bacteria, anti-viral, and anti-spasmodic
  • can block some of the activity of the thyroid hormone, making it popular for treating an auto-immune condition called Grave's disease
  • calms the nervous system through its citral and citronella components
  • natural astringent
  • known to be effective against herpes simplex and Alzheimer's symptoms
  • as a surgical dressing on wounds
  • serves as a mild sedative
  • can cure a range of diseases and symptoms ranging from anxiety, nausea, bloating, and gas, to tumors, rheumatism, and high blood pressure
  • extremely popular for treating cold sores on children
Some Uses:
  • tea!
  • as a cream to apply to lesions
  • as an essential oil for inhalation
  • as a natural insect repellent
  • leaves can be used for flavoring
  • as a massage oil

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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!