What did people use to balance their mood before anti-depressants. The pre-vallium herb of choice was Lemon Balm. Melissa Officinalis or Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family. It was used to level moods long before pharmaceuticals became fashionable.
The great thing about lemon balm is that there are absolutely no side effects with it. There is no addictive chemical, it doesn’t cause numbness or lowered libido and you can basically take it with you wherever you go.
You can drink lemon balm tea either hot or cold. Drinking several cups each day will help to maintain more balance in your moods. It is particularly useful in times of extreme stress or grief. It helps to calm anxiety and allows you to think things through clearly.
According to Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine the Psychiatric uses are “to strengthen the brains resistance to shock and stress….anxiety and neurosis.” It is a mild antidepressant with the side benefit of also assisting with insomnia.
Lemon balm will give a level of assistance in depression however, as with most medications, if the depression continues make sure and see your doctor. I do not in any way recommend going off of pharmaceutical antidepressants and replacing them with lemon balm. Any changes in medications like this need to be dealt with by you and your doctor.
Lemon balm does make a recognizable difference in some people. Personally and professionally I have both used it and recommended it as a first step toward handling stress and depression.
As a member of the mint family, if you choose to grow your own lemon balm be sure to plant it within a pot in your garden. It will take over the garden if given the chance.
It has a lovely citrus flavor that makes it excellent for iced tea. It is warming and relaxing as a hot tea. For hot tea simply steep 1 tsp of lemon balm in an 8 ounce cup of water for 3 minutes. Add sweetener to taste. Sugar is not recommended since it adds to depression. Better choices would be honey, stevia or agave.
For iced tea steep 1/4 cup or more lemon balm in a pot of hot water until the water cools. Strain and pour the cooled tea over ice and sweeten to taste. For a different flavor you can also add lavender to the pot of hot water.
Lemon balm leaves are available at most health food/supplement stores in either leaves or tea bags. Tetley tea has a blend called Cleanse which includes lemon balm and is quite tasty.
Bartram Thomas, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company, New York