Lemon balm2 790 xxx

9.15.09 It's the Balm

The first year in my house upstate, I discovered big patches of a leafy green plant that smelled deliciously lemony. It popped up as soon as the earth warmed and couldn't be deterred. Turns out it's lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a perennial herb in the mint family that is native to the Mediterranean. Mine grows into big bushes that have little white flowers by summer's end. These are full of nectar and attract the bees, and thus the genus name Melissa, which means "honey bee" in Greek.Lemon balm has long been used as a medicinal herb because of its antibacterial, antiviral and sedative properties. It is said to be effective against the herpes virus. A poultice made from the leaves can be applied to any sores or lesions. You can also rub the crushed leaves on your skin as a mosquito repellant. It is exceptionally high in antioxidants and also exhibits antithyrotropic activity, making it useful in treating hyperthyroidism. Amazing, no? Try simply steeping the leaves in hot water for a soothing tea. Or make this panna cotta, infused with a delicate lemony flavor.
Tagged — panna cotta