AUSTIN, Texas (April 14, 2018) – TheAmerican Botanical Council (ABC) welcomes Four Elements Organic Herbals’adoption of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis,Lamiaceae) through ABC’s Adopt-an-Herbbotanical education program.
FourElements’ adoption supports ABC’s extensive HerbMedPro database, ensuring that this essentialeducational resource remains current for researchers, health professionals,industry, students, consumers, and other members of the herbal and dietarysupplements community.
HerbMedPro is a comprehensive, interactive online database thatprovides access to important scientific and clinical research data on the usesand health effects of more than 250 herbs, spices, and medicinal plants.
“When ABC started the Adopt-an-Herb program, I thought Melissa officinalis should berepresented, almost like a parent likes to see his or her child honored fordoing well,” wrote Jane Hawley Stevens, the founder of Four Elements. “I hopewhen people see Four Elements’ logo with Melissaofficinalis’ photo, they are reminded that the plant has many benefits (calming,antiviral, joy-enhancing, carminative, and more) while being delicious,abundant, and easy-to-grow. They should be reminded to drink some lemon balm tea!”
“I feel such deep gratitude for plants and nature in general,and for all the healing potential provided in these aromatic, beautifulpackages,” Stevens continued. “Honoring my favorite herb, lemon balm, throughthis organization, helps to fulfill my mission of connecting plants to peopleto increase wellness for the people and the planet. I am happy to help supportan organization that actively gathers and brings forth herbal research for thegood of all. It brings me joy to now claim the nickname ‘Mother of Melissa,’ having adopted her throughthis worthy ABC program, fortified with my 2,000 Melissa officinalis plants in my field I started from seed!”
About Lemon Balm
Nativeto southern Europe, lemon balm is a bushy perennial that can grow to two orthree feet tall. Like other members of the mint family, it has square stems andopposite, branching leaves. The flowers, which usually appear from about Juneto September, are small, inconspicuous, yellow to pinkish-white, and have the“lipped” look typical of the mint family. Unlike many members of the mintfamily, the plant’s roots are not invasive.
Theleaves smell like lemon (Citrus limon,Rutaceae) when bruised or crushed, hence the plant’s common name. When fresh,they may be used in drinks and added to salads, soups, sauces, and vegetables.When dried, they may be used to flavor teas and added to sachets and potpourris.Lemon balm reportedly is one of the few sour-tasting mints.
Inhis Historia Plantarum, the Greekphilosopher and botanist Theophrastus of Eresus (372-287 BCE) provided one ofthe first known descriptions of the plant. It is thought that the idea of“Carmelite Water,” or Eau de Carmélite,an alcoholic extract of lemon balm and other herbs, originated in about 1200 CEwhen Christian hermits living in caves on Mount Carmel in present-day Israelrealized the benefits of lemon balm. It is also widely believed that the “balm”of Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor refers to lemonbalm. In addition, Thomas Jefferson reportedly cultivated the species atMonticello.
Traditionally,lemon balm has been used to calm nervous disorders, alleviate insect bites,increase perspiration, and treat colds, gastrointestinal and sleep disorders(including insomnia), and fevers. Preparations of the plant have demonstratedantimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, bacteriostatic,neuroprotective, pain-relieving, and sedative effects. The plant containsphenolic acids (primarily rosmarinic acid), flavonoids, and essential oil (withcitronellal, neral, and geranial as the predominant compounds).
Lemonbalm produces abundant nectar and is highly favored by bees. In fact, the genusname Melissa is Greek for “honeybee”or “bee.” In Greek mythology, Melissa was a nymph who discovered how to obtainhoney, and, in one version of the myth, was transformed into a bee by Zeus. Inthe fourth book of Virgil’s Georgics,from the first century BCE, the Roman poet wrote about “baum” (likely lemonbalm) as a bee attractant. And, in 1629, English herbalist John Parkinsonwrote: “It is also an herbe wherein bees doe much delight.” When bees swarm,usually in the spring and when the hive becomes overcrowded, the queen leavesthe hive with about 50-60% of her offspring to establish a new brood-rearingcolony elsewhere. Beekeepers can lose thousands of bees to swarming. Lemon balmhas been used effectively (spread inside bait boxes or bait hives) to captureswarms, including feral swarms, and prevent loss of bees.
About Four Elements
Establishedin 1987, Four Elements offers a variety of herbal wellness products (includingarnica [Arnica montana, Asteraceae]cream, soaps and body lotions, herbal tinctures, and herbal teas) that arecreated and packaged at its farm in the Baraboo Bluffs of Wisconsin. Thecompany is dedicated to growing organic, and has been certified since 1990.
About Adopt-an-Herb and HerbMedPro
Four Elements is one of 57 USand international companies that have supported ABC’s educational efforts tocollect, organize, and disseminate reliable, traditional, and science-basedinformation, including clinical studies, on herbs, medicinal plants, and otherbotanical- and fungi-based ingredients through the Adopt-an-Herb program. Thisprogram encourages companies, organizations, and individuals to “adopt” one ormore specific herbs for inclusion and ongoing maintenance in the HerbMedProdatabase. To date, 63 herbs have been adopted.
Eachadopted herb is continuously researched for new scientific articles andpharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies, ensuring that itsHerbMedPro record stays current and robust. The access to the studies isconveniently organized by type of publication, with each study condensed to aone-sentence summary with a link to each study’s official abstract on PubMed(the US National Library of Medicine’s free-access database) or other publiclyaccessible database.
HerbMedProis available to ABC members at the Academic level and higher. Its “sister”site, HerbMed, is available to the general public at no cost, with access to25-30 herb records from the larger HerbMedPro database. In keeping with ABC’sposition as an independent research and education organization, herb adoptersdo not influence the scientific information that is compiled for theirrespective adopted herbs.