Balm, horehound

(Melissa officinalis, fam. Labiatae)

Balm is perennial cabbage-like plant, with quadrangular pedicel, extensively branched. Leaves are counter positioned, egg-shaped, irregularly toothed, with leaf pedicels the shortest being ones at the top.

Dried leaves used as active part of the plant, contain essential oil, tannins, bitter substances, mucilage, resin, etc.

Acyclic monoterpene aldehides and alcohols, such as citral, citronellol, geraniol and linalool are dominant in essential oil. It also contains monoterpenes: limonene and pinene.

Due to its complex chemical composition, the balm affects numerous organs and the essential oil, with particularly pleasant smell, is the main ingredient its wide use is based upon.

Balm is mild, good and pleasant medication used for digestive system problems (against abdominal distension, stomach difficulties, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea).

Morning nausea in many pregnant women can be significantly reduced if they consume one cup of freshly prepared balm tea, twice a day, in the morning and evening.

Balm in form of single-component tea or combined with bitter teas (gentian, red st. john’s wort, wall germander or yarrow) is given to enfeebled and exhausted people in order to improve their appetite.

Due to the presence of tannin in its composition, this tea is rightfully used against diarrhea, particularly in children. Balm is reputable remedy for treatment of migraine, headache, acute and chronic insomnia caused by fatigue or nerve disorders and depressions.

In order to strengthen the nerves it is best to combine dried balm leaves with marjoram and long treatment is recommended.