Melissa – Pretty Name, Pretty Scent – A Wonderful Essential Oil

Melissa officianalis

Melissa officinalis

Melissa is also called lemon balm. It belongs to the same family as lavender, marjoram, peppermint, sage, patchouli, rosemary, thyme, oregano and more. You can see how the leaf looks similar to some of the other herbs too, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart just from a photo.

Like many plants that create essential oils, Melissa extract is used in Naturopathy extensively for calming nerves and anxiety. This is what the essential oil is good for as well. It has a lemon scent but is more refined than lemongrass, more subtle than lemon and more delicate than any lemon scented eucalyptus or tea tree.

many lemon scented plants exist in nature

many lemon scented plants exist in nature

And once again this plant has an interesting history in healing through the past centuries. The standout landmark for this lovely plant is traced back to the Carmelite Monks of France during medieval times, but this magical herb is recorded as far back as 550BC with the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus – and ancient Greek city now in Turkey. Then we have the founders of modern medicine talking about this herb; 40—90 AD with the Greek physician Dioscorides, and with the Roman naturalist and philosopher of the same time, Pliny the Elder. Thank goodness there are really brainy people who have looked back through ancient records and delivered the information to us.

So it seems as though this gorgeous little herb has the healing powers of the universe within its little green leaves.

Back to the Carmelite monks……… or was is the nuns of another Carmelite origin in the 1200’s? Melissa has been noted way back to the 800’s as a herb of great healing properties, and it seems as though the healing water made with melissa originated in the 14th century (or even earlier) but became more well-known when the Carmelite friars were granted patents by the kings Louis IV, V and VI of France under the name “Eau de Melisse de Carmes”. During these times the herb water was both drunk as a tonic and used as a cologne to wash away the stench and dirt of the streets – and the stink of the general population who did not wash frequently! The balm water also contained other herbs and was used as a panacea. Both original recipes of Benedictine and Chartreuse (the liqueurs from monastic origin) contained melissa but not sure if they do now.


Chartreuse – a lovely green herbal colour with over 100 ingredients

Our beautiful melissa lost favour as more herbs and plants were discovered for healing but it is still prized in Naturopathy and Aromatherapy today as a soothing balm for the emotions. In Aromatherapy we use melissa for –

* uplifting emotional states in depression

* soothing anxiety

* on the skin as an anti-viral – topically for cold sores

* vapourised in a room of sickness to help with nausea and to limit the spread of a virus (it seems that a lot of the lemon scented plants have a great anti-viral effect and I’ve always recommended vapourising lemon in the home if you have a sick person to reduce the spread of the virus or bacteria)

* on the stomach to reduce cramps

melissa flower - pic from

melissa flower – pic from

Melissa – also called balm and lemon balm – is best used to soothe the soul, mental anguish and to inspire happiness. Just take a whiff straight from the bottle.

It is a very expensive oil so you will probably find it in a 3% dilution ready to use straight from the bottle as a perfume, anointing oil and skin treatment for lesions. For more info see my article for more info on 3% blends in jojoba.

I hope you love melissa as much as I do!

copyright suzannerbanks 2013

1 thought on “Melissa – Pretty Name, Pretty Scent – A Wonderful Essential Oil

  1. Just opened my first bottle of Melissa. What a soft delightful lemon! I had wanted an anti-viral after the surprisingly bad flu & cold season this winter. Good to know that one can vaporize it’s benefits for the household. I’m quite taken with the scent. What a wonderful bonus. It feels both uplifting & gently grounding. A new beauty to treasure.

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