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 share our favorite melissa oils.
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
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.
The Process of Extracting Lemon Balm Essential Oil
Like most essential oils, lemon balm essential oil is steam distilled. 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 oil 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 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.
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 lemon balm essential oil can be an antidepressant, sedative, and create feelings of peace and warmth. They additionally claim that it can assist with emotional balance and has uplifting compounds.
One study uncovered that melissa oil significantly helped with anxiety and depression. 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 lemon balm 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.
Essential Oil Safety
Once you have your essential oil in hand, the safest ways of using melissa oil are to diffuse it or apply it topically.
Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and perform a small patch test before applying it to the skin. Especially if you are new to this oil or have sensitive skin.
If you are pregnant, you should not use this essential oil since it is not safe for pregnancy like many other essential oils.
Also, 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.
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 on the higher end which is right in the range we described for a high-quality product.
RMO also offers lemon balm in several different essential oil 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” to experience Melissa at a lower price point.
How to Use
To help with skin conditions like eczema and acne, add 5 drops to an ounce of a carrier oil such as coconut oil. Perform a small patch test, and then apply all over the desired area.
Plant Therapy offers an organic melissa essential oil at a lower price point compared to Young Living and other popular brands. Nevertheless, Plant Therapy is still considered a reputable and high-quality brand.
High customer reviews solidify this choice as a great option for anyone wanting to reap the benefits of melissa essential oil.
How to Use
To help with depression or anxiety, you can diffuse this 3-4 drops of this oil with ylang ylang oil in 100ml of water, and enjoy the uplifting benefits.
Eden’s Garden offers a melissa essential oil that is available in 5ml, 10ml, and 30ml sizes. We love that you can try out the different sizes at different price points.
This oil also comes with an overall GC/MS summary/result. 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.
How to Use
Feeling grumpy? Add 3-5 drops of melissa oil along with 2-3 drops of ylang ylang and/or orange oil to your diffuser for mood-boosting benefits!
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 honey bee 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”