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The Benefits of Lemon Balm

Body+Soul, March 2007

In much of the country, March 20 will herald spring in name only, as the cold, gray days of winter still hold sway. Enter lemon balm, perhaps the most cheerful member of the mint family. Used for ailments ranging from cold sores to stomachaches, this versatile herb contains volatile oils that ease stress and buoy bad moods.

Make your own
Delicious by itself, lemon balm also blends well with other mood-soothing herbs. For straight-up tea, pour boiling water over dried lemon-balm leaf (1 to 2 teaspoons of herbs to 8 ounces water). Or blend with equal parts oat tops (or oat straw) and a pinch of peppermint.

Where to find
Look for dried lemon balm at herb stores or online (try mountainroseherbs.com or zackwoodsherbs.com). In the spring and summer, grow your own in a pot or an outdoor garden.

Safety first
Large, prolonged doses of lemon balm may suppress thyroid function; it's recommended that people with hypothyroidism should use it with caution.