Lemon balm history begins in the Mediterranean
Melissa officinalis is called lemon balm in English.
The plant is native to Greece and the Mediterranean area and the word melissa is from the Greek for bees.
In the garden, it is used to attract and feed bees for honey production.
During the long lemon balm history, there have been periods when it has fallen out of favor, been overlooked, or even forgotten in some cultures.
But it still shows its useful persistence in providing us with relief for a variety of problems.
Using the leaves in various preparations for relief of minor aches, pain, insomnia, depression, emotional upsets, infections, antiseptics, mental concentration, and a sense of well-being goes back over two thousand years according to records by ancient Greek physicians.
Lemon balm was carried throughout the Roman Empire and as far as Great Britain.
There are references to the plant by Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Pliny the Elder.
Later, many of the Greek medical texts that mentioned Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) were preserved by the Arab empires and used by Arab physicians when knowledge was lost elsewhere.
In Europe, Charlemagne ordered it planted and used in monastery gardens which were used as a source of health care for nobility as well as local people.
As a daily morning tea, lemon balm is associated with reports of extraordinary longevity.
It has been reported that Llewelyn, Prince of Glamorgan lived for 108 years during the 13th century and is said to have drunk tea from lemon balm leaves on a regular basis.
It has also reported that John Hussey of Syndenham, England started drinking lemon balm tea at breakfast around age 66 and lived to age 116.
By the 17th century in France, Carmelites were making tonics from lemon balm mixed with other spices and herbs for reducing pain, depression, fever, and to improve memory.
The Carmelites were granted patents for their lemon balm combination steeped in wine called Carmelite Water.
Benedictine monks also used lemon balm in their recipe for their liquor “Benedictine.”
From Great Britain, the lemon balm history passed to the American colonies where it was used in Williamsburg and was grown in Thomas Jefferson's garden.
Lemon balm is also used in India (Ayurveda), China, and other Asian countries, both historically and in modern times.
Today, researchers who are studying lemon balm mention that throughout its two thousand year history, there are no anecdotal reports of serious problems with its use.
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