Melissa: storia, proprietà e precauzioni

Melissa: history, properties and precautions

melissa officinalis is a perennial herbaceous plant, with a bushy shape that grows spontaneously in southern Europe and western Asia.

Its fresh and intense aroma reminiscent of lemon makes it a unique plant of its kind and has been used and appreciated since ancient times as an aromatic herb and as a medicinal remedy.

The great botanists Paracelsus and Pliny called it "elixir of life", by the Arabs in the 10th century it was considered a tonic to drive away sadness and bad mood, for the Greeks it was the sacred herb of Artemis.

In the 17th century, the Discalced Carmelite nuns used it as the main ingredient of the famous "Melissa water", an ancient popular remedy for the treatment of depression, toothaches and migraines.

Cultivation and extraction

Belonging to the Labiate family, lemon balm is grown, harvested and distilled directly at Il Labirinto and from this we extract precious essential oil and hydrolat by distilling stems and leaves, to capture all the components.

Despite the very intense fragrance, the plant is rather greedy in terms of essential oil, in fact less than 0.05% is obtained compared to the material introduced into the still for extraction.

Active ingredients of Melissa

Most of the active ingredients are contained in the leaves and are: flavonoids, caffeic and chlorogenic acid derivatives, rosmarinic acid, triterpenes, essential oils (citral, citronellal and caryophyllene).

All these substances give it the properties for which it is known, including: flavouring, antidepressant, antihistamine, antispasmodic, bactericidal, febrifuge, hypertensive, insect repellent, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge.

What are the uses of Melissa?

As a popular medical remedy it was used to treat red throat, palpitations, abdominal colic, insomnia, states of anxiety, restlessness and irritability and in the treatment of herpes labialis.

In cosmetics it is used as a tonic for the face (as for our nourishing and regenerating face cream), in rinsing oily hair and in relieve insect bites.

In the kitchen the fresh leaves are used as an aromatic herb to flavor salads, soups, meats, in the preparation of liqueurs and herbal teas.


As previously mentioned, lemon balm has aperitif, digestive, choleretic, antispasmodic, sedative and antidepressant properties.

In these cases, it is recommended to take essential oil 1-2 drops on a sugar cube 2-3 times a day or, in aromatherapy, in a diffuser for environments above all for the psychoactive qualities.

L'hydrolat is particularly suitable as tonic for the face, to degrease and restore shine and elasticity to the skin.


Melissa not should be used:

  • for very long periods
  • in pregnancy and while breastfeeding
  • in subjects with glaucoma, thyroid disease and in case of hypersensitivity to one or more of its components
  • with barbiturates (increases the hypnotic effect)
  • with tapazole (hypothyroidism)

For any doubts, we always invite you to consult your doctor or naturopath.

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