Melissa? Who’s that? And why does she have her own essential oil?
In this case, the answer isn’t a “who” but a “what”! Melissa essential oil is the Rolls Royce of essential oils; not only is it pricey, but it also has a wide variety of powerful benefits. Also known as lemon balm, this essential oil has leaves that smell lightly of lemon although they are in the mint family of herbs.
We’re going to go down the melissa essential oil rabbit hole and share all about what it is and where it originated, along with why we call this herb “melissa”. Then, we’ll share some of the benefits of this exclusive oil and send you some links to try it out for yourself if you’re in the mood to #treatyoself . We’ll end with answering the question on everyone’s minds: why is this essential oil so expensive?
Follow us and we’ll explore the world of Melissa essential oil!
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of Melissa
- 2 History of Melissa
- 3 The Process of Extracting Lemon Balm Essential Oil
- 4 Health Benefits of Lemon Balm Essential Oil
- 5 Methods for Using Lemon Balm Essential Oil
- 6 Our Picks for Melissa Essential Oil
- 7 Related Questions
An Overview of Melissa
So what exactly is melissa? As we mentioned above, Melissa is a member of the Lamicacae family of herbs, also known as mint.
It is also sometimes referred to as lemon balm, so we will be using these two names interchangeably throughout this post.
This plant grows in bushy clumps that end up being around 2 feet tall and have branches that can be about 18 inches long. The leaves are heart-shaped with scalloped edges and have a pleasant lemon scent when they are brushed against or crushed. They produce tiny white or golden flowers that bloom from June until October.
This plant is considered to be hardy and grows very well in the right soil conditions.
Interestingly enough, most of the essential oil comes from the uppermost third of the plant.
History of Melissa
Lemon balm is a medicinal plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Western Asia with usage dating back to the time of the Roman Empire.
Across ancient civilizations, there are records of Melissa being used for its therapeutic properties. In traditional medicine, Melissa essential oil is known to be antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic, and antidepressant.
We’ve already mentioned that the luscious lemony scent makes people love this plant, but it also is said to help with emotional balance and skin health.
One of the main benefits of Melissa in traditional medicine was its antioxidant nature, which occurs because of the presence of chemical compounds that give it its antioxidant properties.
In fact, there are 70 active compounds in Melissa essential oil like gernial, germacrene, neral, and citronellal. Since researchers discovered these active ingredients, lemon balm has been researched in many scientific studies to examine its effect on Alzheimer’s disease, memory, learning, and depression.
The Process of Extracting Lemon Balm Essential Oil
Like most essential oils, lemon balm essential oil is extracted via steam distillation. Steam distillation takes place in a sealed still where steam is forced over the plant to create a mixture of water and oils from the plants.
When the process is complete, it is easy for the oil to be collected from the surface of the mixture because water and oil naturally separate. This process of steam distillation is typically better than cold pressing because of its excellent ability to preserve valuable nutrients in the plant matter.
In the case of lemon balm, we mentioned above that the essential oil is only found in plants and flowers. Additionally, it takes a lot of lemon balm to make the essential oil, so in order for this process to be efficient, it must be done with care so the plant material is not harmed in the distillation process.
The amount of lemon balm that it takes to produce the oil is part of the reason why lemon balm essential oil is so expensive.
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm Essential Oil
May Heal Skin Conditions
Melissa essential oil has incredible antiviral abilities that were proven by a study that tested the effect of lemon balm on herpes simplex (cold sores) and minor wounds.
In the group that was being treated for herpes, 96% of participants showed complete clearing of a cold sore after day 8 of treatment with a lemon balm salve.
In the group treated for a skin wound, all individuals showed a reduction in the size of the lesion within 72 hours of treatment with lemon balm.
Additionally, lemon balm is observed to assist with eczema and acne and is said to be gentle enough to use on the skin when diluted properly.
May Prevent and Treat Infections
There is research that indicates that lemon balm essential oil can kill bacteria in vitro, or in a lab, but there is still additional testing that needs to take place before we go taking drops of Melissa for strep throat.
The reason that lemon balm is so effective at killing infections is because of those active chemical compounds we briefly mentioned earlier. The compounds that do the killing of that nasty bacterium are citral, citronellal, and trans-caryophyllene. These chemical compounds are sometimes known as terpenes and occur in many essential oils in a concentrated form.
May Help with Symptoms of Diabetes
The incredible lemon balm essential oil may even be able to treat the effects of diabetes!
One study involved rats and tested the effects of lemon balm essential oil on glucose levels. The finding was promising, showing significantly reduced blood glucose levels , increased glucose tolerance, and much higher serum insulin levels compared with the control group. All of these indicators are signals of reduced diabetes symptoms.
This study did occur in rats and much more testing is required to definitively use lemon balm to assist with diabetes, but it is exciting to see the potential for a future in which diabetes can be managed with a derivative of a plant.
May have Anti-inflammatory Activity
There is some research that shows that lemon balm can be used to help with inflammation and pain and associated diseases. One such study tested the effect of melissa on rats who had edema in their paws. Edema can happen as the result of physical trauma and is when fluid gathers in an area of the body, typically to promote healing. The results of this study showed that the swelling from edema was reduced when the rats were treated with lemon balm essential oil orally.
Although caution must be taken when taking any essential oil internally, this research suggests that lemon balm essential oil may be an option for treating inflammation topically or internally.
May Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
There is conflicting research regarding the effectiveness of lemon balm essential oil for treating Alzheimer’s. Scientists in one study tested the effectiveness of Melissa for agitation in people who have severe dementia. Agitation is a common problem to manage with individuals who have dementia, especially if they have severe cognitive impairment. A small number of patients in this study were tested and about 60% of them saw a reduction in agitation. The result of this clinical trial simply indicated the need for more research and controlled trials with lemon balm essential oil.
But here’s the twist: a follow-up study refuted the evidence presented in the initial study, citing that the initial study did not correctly conduct the research and that their own results showed no more effectiveness in lemon balm than in the placebo.
So as far as we can see, the jury is still out on whether lemon balm essential oil has a place in the treatment of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but it should absolutely be further researched!
May Treat Depression and Anxiety
You’re probably familiar with several essential oils that assist with boosting mood. Add lemon balm to the top of that list! Sources state that Melissa essential oil can be antidepressant, hypnotic, sedative, and create feelings of peace and warmth. They additionally claim that it can assist with emotional balance and has uplifting compounds. One study conducted at the University of Melbourne uncovered that the essential oil helped with anxiety, depression, helped protect neural pathways and cognition. Another study showed mood modulation and improved cognitive performance in healthy young volunteers for the study and also no reports of toxicity. Even at the lowest dose in this study, ratings for calmness were elevated so there is at least a perception of calm that may be a natural helper for individuals with anxiety or depression.
May Potentially Kill Tumors
More research needs to be done to confirm this, but one 2004 study found that Melissa essential oil reduced the strength of cancer cells when they were studied in vitro. Another study from 2014 found that Melissa essential oil might help specifically treat glioblastoma multiforme or GBM, which are tumors that come from the supportive tissue of the brain. In this study, the activity of Melissa essential oil and the chemical component citral showed that it could effectively kill existing cancer cells of this type in vitro which indicates the need for further research of this essential oil as a potential treatment for cancer.
These are just a few of the many potential uses of lemon balm essential oil. There are many uses that are constantly being researched for this potent plant by-product.
Methods for Using Lemon Balm Essential Oil
Lemon balm can be found in health stores and online. As we forewarned, it is a more expensive essential oil to purchase, but a little bit can go a long way! Watch out for cheap dupes though, they’re probably fake or the less potent lemon balm oil instead of lemon balm essential oil. In this case, stick by the old adage: you get what you pay for.
Make sure that what you’re purchasing is the highest grade, pure quality lemon balm ESSENTIAL oil. The high-quality stuff will run you $75-150, but that’s what you need to receive the benefits of this plant. Make sure that you read the label carefully prior to purchasing Melissa essential oils and only purchase from a reputable company. We picked out a few of our favorites below to get you started.
Once you have your essential oil in hand, you can diffuse it, apply it topically, and take it internally. Always use a carrier oil before using lemon balm essential oil on your skin. If you plan on taking this internally, start with one or two drops, but consider consulting your healthcare provider prior to doing so. If you are pregnant, you should not use this essential oil.
Here are a few easy ideas for using Melissa essential oil at home:
- To help with agitation, inhale directly from the bottle or diffuse in your space.
- To help with skin conditions like eczema and acne, use five drops per ounce of carrier oil and massage into the skin. Alternatively, you can also add five drops to your favorite moisturizer or even add five drops to witch hazel to receive the healing effects of this essential oil on your skin.
- For cold sores and/or herpes, apply 2-3 drops of Melissa topically to the area.
- For hypoglycemia you can take a few drops internally to regulate glucose levels. Consult your healthcare provider first though.
- To help with depression or anxiety, you can diffuse this oil or apply it topically to the wrists, back of the neck, and the ears.
- You can use this to help with vertigo by applying 2-3 drops to the back of the neck or ears to help with dizziness or add one drop to tea.
- To assist with hypertension, apply topically to the chest or back of the neck or take 2 drops internally.
Again, always consult your healthcare provider prior to using any essential oil to treat a health condition. There may be interactions with medications you are currently taking or pre-existing conditions that you have that may be harmful to your health. Use lemon balm essential oil responsibly and you will enjoy your experience!
Our Picks for Melissa Essential Oil
Rocky Mountain Oils consistently puts out high-quality oils that come with their own GC/MS test results and their melissa essential oil is no different! Their price point is $108.95 which is right in the range we described for a high-quality product. Some reviewers say that they were able to purchase this product through a sale that happens on the website occasionally, so be on the lookout for that as well! RMO also offers lemon balm in several different blends, so if you aren’t able to drop the big dollars on the single version you can still experience some of this essential oil’s benefits in some of their other offerings. Check out their “Blend of Melissa” or “Mind Alive” blends to experience Melissa at a lower price point.
Plant Therapy offers an organic Melissa at a lower price point but is still considered a reputable and high-quality brand. The bonus here is that you can get a 2.5ml version of melissa essential oil, so you don’t just have one 5ml option. The 5ml option that is also organic goes for $44.95 and still comes with batched GC/MS test results for quality assurance. High customer reviews solidify this choice as a great option for anyone wanting to reap the benefits of melissa essential oil.
Eden’s Garden offers a melissa essential oil that is available in 5ml, 10ml, and 30ml sizes. The standard 5ml size goes for around $45 and comes with an overall GC/MS result that is non-specific to the particular oil that you receive. This is considered to be an indicator of good quality, so this is still a good choice if you do choose to try out melissa.
Why is melissa essential oil so expensive?
It takes a lot of lemon balm to make any kind of essential oil. In fact, we can only derive about 0.02ml of lemon balm essential oil from a kilogram of plant material – that’s several plants!
Why is it called Melissa?
The Greeks referred to lemon balm as “melisophyllon”, which marries the greek words “melissa” and “phyllon”. Melissa means honeybee in Greek, which makes sense because the lemon balm plant is a serious pollinator and typically attracts a lot of bees! Phyllon means leaf, so when we put it together we have “honeybee leaf”