Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) has been known for more than 2000 years as a medicinal herb. In Ancient Greece, it was believed that Lemon Balm and bees shared a strong relationship and that they used the plant to find the way back to their hives. In addition, Ancient Greeks believed that the herb promotes long life. Many cultures believed that the plant possessed “mystical” soothing powers. In the Middle Ages, the herb was a symbol of sympathy.
The herb belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which has around 3,500 species, all characterized by strong and pleasant aromas. The Lamiaceae includes a wide variety of culinary herbs, including mint, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, savory, marjoram and lavender. Grown in many regions of the world, the herb is native to the Mediterranean area, North Africa and West Asia. The leaves of the herb have a pleasant lemony aroma, hence its name. The botanical name of the plant “Melissa officinalis” originates from the Greek word for “honey bee;” as the plant attracts bees.
Lemon Balm is rich in a variety of aromatic and polyphenolic compounds, which might explain the interest towards its functions. Lemon balm is commonly used as a food additive, in herbal teas, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
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