Native to southern and central Europe and the Mediterranean areas, Lemon Balm is a herb belonging to the Labiate family, also known as "limoncella" because of its citrus scent, it grows spontaneously on the edges of the woods and among the hedges. The plant is 40 to 100 cm tall and has petiolate, oval and hairy leaves with an intense green color and dentate outlines. The bell-shaped flowers bloom between May and August and are at first yellowish-white coloured and then become a sort of pale pink.
The botanical name Melissa derives from the Greek meli (honey), probably in relation to the fact that its scent irresistibly attracts bees who greedily suck the nectar while exerting a repellent action against harmful insects.
Some Greek myths were born around this plant such as the one of the Sungod. Apollo fell in love with the nymph Melissa and the desire to be with her was so great that it made him forget to do his job, that is to drive the chariot of the sun. Thus darkness descended on earth and Zeus, furious, punished Apollo by transforming his beloved Melissa into a bee.
Lemon Balm, a story constelled by excellent properties
Even in ancient times, lemon balm was highly reputable, due to its healing powers. Men of science such as Dioscorides, Pliny, Avicenna were great admirers of this plant and used it to heal skin wounds, to treat nervous disorders, for states of anxiety and agitation, to treat insomnia, toothache, headaches, indigestion and menstrual disorders.
Lemon balm was recommended by Galen and Paracelsus as a cure for mental disorders, while Serapio believed it was a plant capable of relieving restlessness and melancholy. Even in the Arab world it was known for "the wonderful property of comforting the heart" and, in France in the 1600s, the Water of Lemon Balm prepared by Carmelite monks was considered the best remedy to be used in all cases of ailments, from toothache to abdominal spasms, from melancholy attacks to fainting, syncope, nervous breakdowns and cardiac erethism.