What is Melissa Essential Oil? (Lemon Balm Oil)
Melissa essential oil is the watery pale-yellow substance obtained by steam distillation of fresh buds, leaves, and branches of Melissa officinalis, which belongs to the Lamiaceae family.
The plant of melissa delivers scarce quantities of oil in steam distillation, reason why it is a very expensive essence in European markets. It requires 10,000-12,000 Kg of leaves and flowers to produce only 1 Kg of Essential Oil.
M. officinalis is well known for its soothing, memory boosting, anti-stress, antidepressant and sedative properties, among others.
Melissa oil has a top to middle perfumery note with a strong, sweet, herbaceous, fresh and citrus-like aroma.
The essential oil of melissa blends well with Geranium, lavender, rose, basil, frankincense, sweet orange, citronella, bergamot, neroli, ylang ylang, petitgrain, sandalwood, vanilla, tangerine, spikenard, and chamomile essential oil.
Origin of Melissa Essential Oil
Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Apparently, its origin dates back more than two thousand years.
It is said that the Spanish conquerors were those who gave it the name “lemon balm”.
Historical facts of Melissa Essential Oil
Melissa is the Greek name Melissophyllon which literally means “leaves for bees”.
In the past, bees were considered sacred creatures of the solar gods, and honey was used in religious ceremonies as a concentrate of solar energy. The melissa participated in this type of energy transformation of sun into honey, which was made by bees.
It is said that bees fed Jupiter with honey, as a child.
The Swiss physician, alchemist and astrologer Paracelsus, called Melissa’s infusion “Elixir of Life”, as it was famous for its rejuvenating properties and possessed a reputation as a panacea.
On the other hand, Avicenna, a great Arab doctor of the 11th century, among the properties of Melissa highlighted its admirable property of cheering and comforting the heart.
Since the beginning of the 17th century, the Discalced Carmelites prepare, from this plant, the famous “Carmen’s water”, which has been a popular remedy against fainting, syncopes and nervous breakdowns.
It was also used in the past to help soldiers relax and keep fatigue and combat stress away.
Chemical Constituents of Melissa Essential Oil
The main chemical components of melissa oil are trans-ocimene, cis-ocimene, 3-octanone, methyl hepenone, cis-3-hexenol, 3-octanol, 1-octen-3-ol, copaene, citronellal, linalool, b-bourbonene, caryophyllene, a-humulene, neral, germacrene-D, geranial, geranyl acetate, d-cadinene, y-cadinene, nerol and geraniol.
Properties of Melissa Essential Oil
The properties of melissa essential oil include: antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, anxiolytic, antiarrhythmic, calming, cardiac, deodorant, energetic cleanser, pectoral, cordial, nervine, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, stomachic, antibacterial, carminative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, sudorific, sedative, tonic, sleep inducer, antifungal, antiseptic and protects the gastric system and the urinary system.
Besides, according to recent research, melissa essential oil has potential anti-tumor and anti-diabetic effects, and may improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Melissa Essential Oil
Effective against harmful bacteria
The antibacterial action of melissa oil has shown efficacy in the defense against bacteria in the digestive tract, colon, intestines, urinary tract and kidneys. Thanks to this, it keeps the organism in optimal conditions. In addition, it protects the kidneys from saturation due to increased tension, preventing their function from being affected.
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Relieves muscle and joint pains
Due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, it is used to relieve the symptoms of diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, degenerative diseases of the muscles, muscle aches, migraines and headaches, among others.
Eliminates water retention (fluid retention)
Although melissa essential oil causes increased appetite, this does not mean it helps you gain weight.
There are diseases that show inflammation and retention of fluid in the organism, which leads to a considerable increase in weight without the need for obesity as such.
Melissa essential oil deflates and activates the urinary and lymphatic system, which acting together help to eliminate fluid that produces edema, as well as improves renal, cardiac and endocrine function.
These systems go hand in hand when discussing a fluid balance in the organism.
Improves skin quality
Melissa essential oil is recognized for its cosmetic benefits on the skin, since it regenerates its natural tone, prevents aging and provides relief in conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, peeling, fungal and bacterial infections, irritations, allergic reactions with pruritus, etc.
On the other hand, it promotes the recovery of hydration in the skin, activating the production of proteins and nutrients that give it health and shine.
It also provides great benefit when it is added to lotions, creams and tonics.
With constant use, it gives freshness and softness to the skin, providing deep hydration and a refreshing aroma.
Helps overcome depression
The antidepressant property is one of the four most important medicinal properties of this oil. In addition to being an effective antidepressant, it encourages humor. Melissa essential oil has been recognized for driving away sadness, and inspiring joy and hope. That is why it was called “Elixir of life” or the “nectar of life” in the fifteenth century.
Relieves respiratory diseases
Because melissa essential oil is antiseptic and antitussive, it helps to improve conditions of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as allergic symptoms, cough, sore throat, aphonia, etc.
Promotes the health of the nervous system
Melissa essential oil is also considered a nervine substance. This means that it serves as a tonic for the nervous system, keeping it healthy, functioning properly and helping to avoid nervous disorders. Problems such as vertigo, nervousness and seizures can be treated by using this oil.
It is highly effective in calming anxiety, nervousness, trauma and shock. It also promotes sleep due to its sedative property. It relaxes the body, mind and soul at the same time brings feelings of peace and joy.
An excessive or unexplained contraction in the body is called spasm. Spasms can occur within the respiratory, muscular, nervous and digestive systems. These can cause severe coughing, muscle cramps, seizures, shortness of breath and severe abdominal pain.
Spasms should be taken very seriously, since in extreme cases, they can be lethal. Melissa essential oil, being an excellent sedative and relaxing, can give quick relief to spasms in any part of the body.
Soothes stomach discomfort
Alleviates, tones and strengthens the stomach. Melissa essential oil promotes optimal functioning of the stomach and the digestive process. It helps to heal wounds, scrapes or ulcers in the stomach. Maintains the proper flow of gastric juices and cleans the bowel to ensure proper functioning.
Relieves stomach inflammation
It is very effective in the expulsion of gases, since it reduces the tension in the abdominal muscles, thus relieving, abdominal swelling and cramping.
Both diaphoretic and sudorific mean the same thing. That is, both describe an agent that promotes sweating or perspiration. Melissa essential oil has these properties.
Through sweat we eliminate excess toxins, and clean the pores of the skin so that some harmful gases such as nitrogen can escape. This is called helping the skin in “breathing”, since not all gases are formed in the stomach, as is often believed.
Being an antibacterial, Melissa essential oil fights against bacterial or microbial infections in the body, including those that cause fever.
In addition, thanks to its sudorific properties, it helps reduce body temperature and eliminates the toxins produced during fever, through the process of perspiration.
Regulates high blood pressure
It can be a great benefit for hypertensive people who are at risk of heart attack or stroke when blood pressure rises.
It is a powerful tonic
The essential oil of melissa is a tonic for the integral health of our body. Tonics help to keep everything in order, ensuring that all systems work correctly also, increase immunity by making us more resistant to diseases.
Helps regulate menstrual disorders
Many problems related to menstruation and post-menstrual syndrome can be treated with the help of Melissa essential oil. These include problems such as obstructed period, irregular menstruation, pain and extreme fatigue during periods, premature menopause, disgust and depression after menopause, etc.
Melissa essential oil has properties that act directly on the central nervous system. Its sedative and relaxing effects are recognized worldwide which positions it as an excellent natural sleep aid.
Its action is reflected in its consumption as an infusion, in topical use and aromatherapy; which is why it was used since ancient times in natural and preventive medicine.
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The property that gives this effect is its high citronella content composed of flavonoids, antioxidants and phenolic compounds. This combination acts in the body decreasing muscular tone (smooth and striated), with which, a good rest can be reached.
As well as providing a state of serenity and well-being, which generates a restful sleep.
For healthy hair
It helps regulate the pH of the scalp, eliminating excess fat and helping hair grow healthier, providing shine and softness. In addition, it prevents alopecia; since its antiseptic action improves and prevent fungal and bacterial diseases; as well as infestations with lice and nits.
Melissa essential oil is also effective in the treatment of herpes, sores, ulcers, fungal infections, headaches and fatigue. Memory also increases with the use of this oil.
Why is Melissa Essential Oil so effective for digestion?
Melissa essential oil, due to its chemical components similar to lemon, have antibacterial effect. For this reason, it is used in cases of stomach infections of Helicobacter Pílori and Escherichia Coli.
In addition, it significantly reduces the spasms of the intestinal smooth muscle, which improves digestion and prevents colic, flatulencies and intestinal irritability.
On the other hand, it increases the enzymatic production to maintain adequate levels of hydrochloric acid, which improves the use of the nutrients consumed and an adequate elimination of waste from the organism; since it also has antioxidants property.
It also increases the metabolism, producing better energy use of cell membranes, thus promoting better performance of these.
Uses of Melissa Essential Oil
Melissa essential oil is one of the main components in perfumery. Its aroma gives it a rating of middle note grade; which is the heart of the perfume. Middle notes bring character and harmony to the final fragrance.
They last longer than the top notes and have a strong influence on the base notes to come. The heart of the perfume is generally pleasant and well-rounded. It is often a smooth combination of floral or fruit tones; sometimes infused with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom.
- Calms and relaxes the central nervous system, fighting insomnia, headaches and migraines.
- Pacifies emotions in states of hypersensitivity, hysteria, shock, panic and fear.
- Avoids violent thoughts and emotions.
- Comforts the afflicted, helping them cope with the loss of a loved one. It provides a positive perspective, recovering from depression, anxiety and anguish.
- Purifies the mind, relieving unmotivated worries.
- Improves memory and concentration.
- Balances and harmonizes the family climate.
- Increase the chance to improve the fortune.
- Purifies people and environments, eliminating negative charges.
- It helps people who feel lonely, anxious and disconsolate.
- Blends with melissa essential oil are an opportunity to renew relationships with the natural world, to inspire creativity and initiative.
Melissa Essential Oil and Cancer
A 2004 research, showed the cytotoxic activity of Melissa officinalis essential oil in lung, colon, breast, and leukemia human cancer cell lines; and in a mouse, melanoma cell line.
In this study, dilutions of the essential oil ranging from 1 : 50.000 to 1 : 2.000 induced a dose-dependent inhibition of cell viability in all tested tumor cell lines, although each culture showed different sensitivity.
The antitumoral effect of melissa oil was later studied in human glioblastoma multiforme cell lines. Treatment with the essential oil for 48 hours, decreased cell number in a dose-dependent manner, and this was associated with induction of apoptosis, as demonstrated by the presence of DNA fragmentation and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive form of glioma, and tumor cell drug resistance limits a successful treatment worsening the prognosis.
Expression of members of the multidrug resistance related proteins (MRP), is one of the mechanisms contributing to the GBM chemoresistance. Interestingly, treatment with the monoterpene citral, that represents more than 85% of the M. officinalis essential oil and reproduces the cytotoxic features of the essential oil, reduces the activity and down regulates the expression of MRP1 in GBM cell cultures.
The ability of M. officinalis essential oil and citral to induce apoptosis in resistant cells that express MRP1, suggests their potential for tumor treatment.
Melissa Essential Oil during Pregnancy
Melissa essential oil should not be used during pregnancy as it may cause spontaneous abortion. Its use produces uterine contractions, which could lead to the loss of the fetus.
Additionally, it contains teratogenic agents, which are chemical substances, physical agent, infectious agent or deficiency state, that is capable of producing a morphological or functional alteration in the postnatal period, and that acts during the embryonic or fetal period.
Is Melissa Essential Oil good for babies?
Overdose of melissa essential oil can cause high drowsiness, that can trigger hypnosis state; decrease blood pressure, pulse, and therefore, put life at risk.
Reason why it is not recommended to use in children under six years old.
In the same way, its use is totally forbidden in babies, since its sedative effect is so intense that it can induce the sudden death of the newborn.
Melissa Essential Oil and lactation
The use of melissa essential oil is not advisable during lactation, since its high permeability is easily transferred to the breast milk, which generates direct effects on the baby.
Contraindication and risks when using Melissa Essential Oil
- Melissa essential oil should not be used in people allergic to its components.
- Due to its high concentration, melissa essential oil must be properly dosed and diluted in a carrier oil before use. This will avoid any irritation or toxicity when applied to the skin. It can be blended with other essential oils but the base must exceed 80% the amount of essences used to avoid damage.
- For infusions, dilute it preferably in water or milk.
- Avoid its use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in children under six years old.
- For hypertensive people who are taking industrial medicines, caution is recommended, since the consumption of melissa essential oil could lower the pressure leading the patient to a decompensation.
- Use cautiously in chronic diseases and in elderly people.
Where to buy Melissa Essential Oil
Generally, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.
If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, here are some recommendation for you:
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Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:
- Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
- Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
- Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.