12.09.2012
Last of the Lemon Balm
.. you can use it to great effect

 

Today is a good day the sun is out. And it's been possible, at last, to get out into the garden instead of dashing under a large umbrella from car door to kitchen door.

 

Then the pleasure turns to horror: my garden seems jammed with everything I'd rather not see there. Brambles the thickness of ship's rope spill out over bushes in huge coils. An incursion of pink-topped feathery Joe Pye weed; something very tall that looks like purple loosestrife; massive waves of some other horrible sulphurous weed: it all crowds the beds. And depresses me. What was the lawn is now cat-back high grass brimming with plantain, dandelion and achillea; waist-high nettles that would grace a witch's cauldron everywhere. But then, I suffer the intrusion of some, given their extraordinary curative powers.

 

One among them, with energetic pop-up tendencies, I absolutely love. Right now, its rough leaves are beginning to look a little less brisk but they still give out the best of smells, chirpy, citrussy and beguiling. This is the 'herb of good cheer' spirit-lifting lemon balm with its lovely Latin tag, Melissa. That dry leaf, though, has an awful lot going for it: abundant medicinal properties and an essential oil which is one of the world's most sought-after and expensive.

 

Medical herbalist Anne McIntyre, in The Top 100 Herbal Remedies1, says: 'This lovely, relaxing herb, with its pleasant taste, will help to ease away headaches, migraines, insomnia and vertigo. Hot lemon-balm tea is anti-microbial and decongestant, wonderful for colds, flu, chest infections, and coughs, and one of the best remedies for the cold-sore virus. It will also help to lower fevers. Add a strong infusion to a child's bath to help calm over-excitement and induce restful sleep. Stress-related digestive problems, PMS, painful periods, anxiety, and depression all respond well to lemon balm.' That's a lot of magic in one pesky plant.

 

At Great Elm we employ that magic for skin mixing it with soapwort to make our skin-clearing cleanser Hazelnut & Soapwort, or with cornflower for our Melissa & Cornflower toner, and with Juniper to combat oily, spotty skin. We add it to an amazing intensive face care oil, Lemon Balm & Blackcurrant, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and conditioning.

 

But you can make your own skincare with it too. This face wash is truly delicious in almost every way and it works unbelievably well.

 

Take a bundle of leaves, and a few strawberries, whizz them up in a blender with a shot of rosewater and a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil. Slop it all over your face and rub it in as best you can. Then rinse off with warm water.

 

This is a splendidly good anti-aging cleanser. It makes your skin feel beautifully soft, smooth and refreshed. Strawberries, by the way, contain vitamins A and C, which are essential for preserving youthful skin. The melissa does the rest. Divine! And almost makes up for all the other weeds in the garden.

 

Liv O'Hanlon

Great Elm Physick Garden Ltd 01373814607

www.great-elm.com

info@great-elm.com

1Published by Duncan Baird Publishers, London. 4.99 ISBN 1-84483-232-5

   

Click image to enlarge

More News >

08.05.2017

Natural bonus straight from the garden.

Natural bonus straight from the garden.

Make your own delicious fragrances for your home
Read more>

16.11.2016

Ginger Lovers' Collection

Ginger Lovers' Collection

The warmth, energy and zing of ginger.
Read more>

31.08.2016

Keeping your skin in honey-pie order

Keeping your skin in honey-pie order

Make it naturally easy on yourself
Read more>

15.05.2016

Give yourself a lift with Spring

Give yourself a lift with Spring

Now you can help yourself!
Read more>