The Backyard Pharmacy – Lemon Balm

lemon-balmThere’s a plant, quite possibly growing in your yard right now, that you may not fully appreciate. Lemon balm is a medium sized, leafy green plant with the four-sided stem of a mint, and small light yellow flowers. Originally from Europe, Melissa officinalis is now naturalized in the States and is often considered a nuisance due to its propensity to spread easily through ones garden if allowed to. Pinch off a leaf, crush it in your fingers, and you will get an unmistakable smell of lemon.

Although rather ordinary looking, lemon balm has an amazingly wide variety of medicinal uses for animals and humans alike.  It’s not considered a particularly strong herb, so its very safe to use.  A tea make from the dried leaves has a mild but pleasant taste, and quite effective for nervousness, mild depression and upset digestive systems.  Let’s say you plan on leaving Heidi, your sweet but anxious German Shepherd with a sitter while you go put of town for a week.  Make a pot of lemon balm tea and have the pet sitter pour it into Heidi’s food at every meal.  It will not only help keep her calm and relaxed while you are gone, but will also sooth her GI tract and help to prevent the stress-induced diarrhea that German shepherds are famous for. Or maybe you have a young colt that is not dealing with the stress of training well.

A handful of the dried leaves twice a day in the feed can do wonders to help him stay more calm and focused. It’s also a great help for horses recovering from colic.Lemon balm has a mild thyroid suppressing effect, so I’ve used it in helping to treating  hyperthyroidism, which is a very common condition in older cats. It also has antiviral properties, so it can be useful in upper respiratory infections.  I’ve also used it effectively in treating herpes eye infections, another common feline ailment.  And lastly, an oil made from the fresh plant makes a great remedy used topically for burns, blisters, stings and herpes eruptions in any species.

This amazing plant with so many uses is easy to grow and can be found at your local nursery.  And remember, it’s not just for critters!

Published in LocalsGuide.

There are 3 comments left Go To Comment

  1. Diana Harlow /

    Thank you for information. How much lemon balm would you recommend for hyperthyroid cat. I have purchased capsules.

    1. Dr J / Post Author

      Lemon balm alone will not control hyperthyroidism in cats. It will lower the dose needed of others medications used to lower thyroid levels. It’s very safe, though. Cats can be difficult to get capsules down, so may not be the best method.

  2. Brandi Gray /

    I’m transitioning my hyperthyroid gal to a natural/raw diet, and have researched the components of a balanced herbal treatment. Being on a fixed income and having a pharmacist friend, it’s less expensive to get each ingredient , than buy the premixed formulas. I consult regularly with our vet, and she’s aware of my desire to treat holistically. But, we have no vets here experienced in holistic care beyond their own expensive supplements to conventional treatment. I worked as a tech for years, so I won’t mess around if holistic isn’t enough. Other than increased appetite/drinking, no weight gain (but no loss either) and smelly poo, she’s in good health. Shiny coat, normal energy/behavior, blood work sh.
    Could you please recommend an estimated dosage of lemon balm, bugleweed, and motherwort? (Kitty is a spayed 10 y old of 9 lbs.) I have correct dosages of everything else, but would really appreciate help with these few. Thank you.

Leave a Reply