Tag Archives: Cold sores

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm, NL:Citroenmelisse)

I love the uplifting citrus scent of fresh Lemon Balm (Melissa). In the spring and summer it smells and tastes magical; I eat leaves straight from the plant whilst gardening on the roof, add them to salads and ice cubes and frequently drink it as a tea. Lemon balm tastes great alone or in combination with other herbs, particularly mints. In the autumn and winter I use it dried, it smells good but quite different and has several really useful applications. I made a lip balm containing Melissa this weekend, to help fight off cold sores. I find it works a treat and thought it was time to share a few of this herb’s properties and uses.

The Latin name Melissa means honeybee and this herb is very attractive to bees. It has been planted near beehives since the time of ancient Greece as it encourages bees to return home.  The herb is a member of the mint family and has long been associated with love, friendship, health, healing, success and good cheer. It was the main ingredient in Carmelite water and has a reputation for relieving symptoms of mild depression.

Lemon Balm grows very well in almost any soil, does well in pots and can be divided to make extra plants throughout spring, summer and early autumn.  It is a hardy herbaceous perennial, a pretty variagated variety is available and it makes a great urban herb.

Melissa can be used to:

  • Cool. It can induce a mild perspiration so is sometimes useful taken as a tea when feverish with colds or flu.  In hot weather its cooling properties are also welcomed.
  • Scent. The fresh lemon odour makes Melissa valuable dried in potpourri, as a breath freshener and when the leaves are bruised it can really lift spirits.
  • Flavour. The lemony fresh leaves can be chopped into salads, ice cubes, mayonnaise, white sauces, sauerkraut, custards, jellies, fruit drinks and wine cups.
    Lemon balm can also be used to create wonderfully aromatic vinegars, alone or in combination with herbs such as Tarragon.  They can be used in delicious salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
  • Relieve cold sores.  Some commercial cold sore preparations contain lemon balm but it is easy and cheap to make your own balm.  Recent scientific research has also found that preparations containing Melissa can reduce recurrence of cold sores and can shorten the duration of attacks.
  • Calm and soothe. Lemon balm may be helpful to those suffering from grief, mild depression, anxiety, tension and sleeplessness. It can help digestive problems caused by these issues and many find it works as a relaxing tonic.  Recent scientific research has also found it to be useful in managing agitation in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Relieve headaches. A tasty remedy for simple tension headaches it to soak a handful of freshly picked leaves in a glass of wine for an hour, or drink a tea made from the dried leaves.
  • Relieve chronic bronchial catarrh. Lemon balm tea can help to ease symptoms.

How to make Cold Sore fighting lip balm

  • Follow my instructions about How To Make Salves, Ointments and Lip Balms using a 50:50 mix of Calendula and Melissa heat infused oils.
  • Warm very gently as you dissolve the grated beeswax, I stir with a clean finger to check that the temperature remains really low.
  • Ensure you test the consistency and adjust it accordingly, with more wax or more oil, before pouring into small pots.  Lip balm for cold sores shouldn’t be too firm as application may be painful.
  • When I use a pot of balm to treat a cold sore, I tend to throw away any remainder when the sore is healed. This reduces the risk of using contaminated balm once the skin is healed.

43 Uses for Calendula (NL:Goudsbloem)

Calming, cooling, cleansing. Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold, NL: Goudsbloem) is one of the easiest herbs to grow and perhaps one of the most useful to Urban Herbologists. It is a hardy annual which does very well in containers, can flower throughout the year and self seeds readily. It is beautiful, tastes good and has gentle astringent, anti-inflammatory, cooling, detoxifying and antiseptic actions. If you only have space to grow one herb, this has to be one to consider. Many of the remedies mentioned here are very easy to make, if you prefer to buy them from a reliable source, I recommend Weleda products (some links are included in the list). N.B. Calendula is not to be confused with French marigold (Tagetes patula). Calendula is very gentle but when trying a new herb it is always wise to use very small quantities at first or to do a skin patch test.

43 uses for Calendula

Medicinal uses
1. Sprains
– make a compress from infused flowers.
2. Gum infections –
Mouthwash from tea or a few drops of tincture in water.
3. Sore throat pastilles – Powdered dried flowers, blended with honey.
4. Mastitis & sore nipples – Calendula Cream can help strengthen nipples and prevent mastitis in nursing mothers.
5. Cold sores – Calendula salve is helpful to many cold sore sufferers.
6. Acne – Lotion made from Calendula tea can help speed healing and reduce scarring.
7. Nappy rash – Infused oil, lotion or Calendula Cream can prevent and speed healing.
8. Athletes foot – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
9. Ring worm – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
10. Period pain – Many women find regular use of Calendula tea helpful as a menstrual regulator.
11. Digestive inflammation – Calendula tea can often gently reduce inflammation.
12. Scar reduction – Often Calendula Oil, cream or salve can help to reduce existing scars and prevent scars.
13. Lowering mild fever – Drinking Calendula tea at first signs may help.
14. Skin softening – Massage using Calendula infused oil.
15. Eczema – Calendula infused oil or cream often calms red, hot eczema conditions.
16. Dry chapped skin – Calendula salve or infused oil.
17. Varicose veins – Calendula salve or cream.
18. Chillblains – Calendula salve or cream.
19. Post operative recovery – Calendula tea. Gentle, cooling, nourishing, speeds healing, reduction of scarring.

Culinary uses
20. Herbal ice cubes/wands – Freeze petals in ice cubes for summer drinks.
21. Salad flowers – Pretty and tasty, sprinkle on top.
22. Soups Add dried or fresh flowers or petals to soups. An ancient broth without Calendula was incomplete, hence the name Pot Marigold.
23. Saffron colour substitute – The taste is different but the colour is very similar.
24. Risotto – Adding whole petals livens up the appearance of risotto.
25. Soft cheese –
Blend in whole or chopped fresh petals. Previously used to colour cheese yellow.
26. Yoghurt –
Mix in fresh petals or spinkle on top.
27. Butter –
Mix in finely chopped fresh petals. Can be frozen.
28. Omelettes –
Add fresh petals for colour and taste.
29. Cakes –
Use calendula butter or add fresh petals to cake mix.
30. Milk dishes –
Add to rice pudding, custards and similar dishes.
31. Sweet breads –
A little like saffron.
32. Vegetable bouillon – Add to mixes of dried herbs and vegetables.
33. Source of Vitamin A

Other uses
34. Fabric/Wool dye –
Boil flowers, yellow dye. Suitable mordant is alum.
35. Pot pourri – Whole dried flowers retain colour and mild scent.
36. Alter decorations – Used since ancient times to adorn spiritually significant objects and buildings.
37. Skin toner – Cooled tea.
38. Eye make-up remover – Infused oil.
39. Face cleanser – Infused oil or cream.
40. Lip balm – Soothing and calming, beeswax and infused oil.
41. Hair rinse – Tea, to brighten blond hair.
42. Companion planting – Useful for deterring pests in organic gardens.
43. Year round colour – The Romans noted this plant tends to be in bloom on first day of each month (calends), hence the latin name.