Post-Apocalyptic Medicine Cabinet: Lemon Balm

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Wellness & Healing
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My favorite use for Lemon Balm in the world we have at the moment is as a mosquito repellent.   You simply pick a few leaves, crumple them up a bit so that they’re bruised (it releases the oils in the leaves) and rub on your skin. The  leaves contain 24% citronella , a safe and effective natural deterrent against mosquitoes. You can also use the leaves to make an infused oil you can rub or spray on (or mix w/ a carrier lotion to spread more evenly)

In a post-apocalyptic scenario, the systems we have in place  for controlling mosquito populations would cease. We take those methods and even bug repellent for granted but in a environment where mosquitoes are allowed to breed and spread malaria ,West Nile virus,encephalitis and other mosquito-born maladies, a good repellent could effectively save your life.  There are some good sources of natural repellent but lemon balm is very easily found and can be readily available. It’s a prolific grower and there isn’t mcuh danger of running low on your supply.

Lemon balm is best planted in containers. It behaves much like mint and spreads like crazy when allowed to grow unfettered by a container. The advantage to this in a scenario where you might not exactly have access to a garden supply store or mail order seed catalog is that you can find lemon balm growing wild throughout North America. It’s native to southern Europe so I might assume the same can be said there.  You’ll know lemon balm primarily by it’s lemony scented leaves and it’s square stems.

Square stem!

You can harvest leaves straight from the source or if you want to cultivate at your home(base) , it transplants quite well. Usually a solid yank at the base of the plant will uproot it. Wrap the roots in moist heavy cloth or drop into a container with dirt (a mop bucket, a large plastic planter…whatever you have on hand) for transport.

Another handy use for lemon balm is to reduce plasma DNA damage in those who have had low dose radiation exposure when drank as a tea. I don’t think this is going to save your ass in a serious nuclear meltdown or bombing but with slight exposure, it could be better than nothing.

For normal, everyday tea drinking, it has calming properties and I often brew it with some chamomile or mint for headache and stress relief. It  also has anti-viral and antibacterial properties, as well as high antioxidant levels, so it’s a good one to use in any healing tea blend. It works on cold sores (herpes simplex) ,too!

Lemon Balm Tea

Use a heaping teaspoon per cup of tea of chopped fresh or dry leaves in a tea ball or other infuser. You can also make your own tea bags using coffee filters or other material such as cheesecloth. Steep in hot water for 10 minutes. Drink!

Lemon Balm Infused Oil

For topical remedies, such as cold sores and insect bites, it’s helpful to use as an infused oil.You could also use this as your mosquito repellent.

Here’s exactly how:

  1. Susan says:

    Ooops, what happened to the exactly how to make an infusion? I was hoping to confirm or disprove my thought that it’s basically boiling the leaves in a little water. This sounds like a miracle plant to someone who gets bitten by everything that can fly and bite. I can’t walk through the yard without getting a dozen new bites on my ankles! Thanks for the suggestion. I will look for it at the nursery next week. The leaf looks a lot like mint, so I wonder if it’s from the same family.

    • Jupiter says:

      Oh,no…can you not see the “How To” video? Hmm, wonder why…
      Basically, you’re heating oil & the leaves in a double-boiler method, then straining it. It is very similar to mint…sometimes the only way I can tell is by smelling it 🙂

  2. I just transplanted some lemon balm from a friends garden. I was planning to use it in tea and cooking. I didn’t know about the insect repellent and medicinal qualities. Thanks for the great info!

  3. Carol says:

    Enjoyed the good information you have provided. I have lemon balm in my yard (not in containers) and it has spread all over. I’m glad to know about the mosquito repellent quality.

  4. alix says:

    I love lemon balm. I grew it one year, and it did really well. Thank you for linking up at Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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