---Habitat---A native of South Europe, especially in mountainous situations, but is naturalized in the south of England, and was introduced into our gardens at a very early period.
The genus Melissa is widely diffused, having representatives in Europe, Middle Asia and North America. The name is from the Greek word signifying 'bee,' indicative of the attraction the flowers have for those insects, on account of the honey they produce.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Carminative, diaphoretic and febrifuge. It induces a mild perspiration and makes a pleasant and cooling tea for feverish patients in cases of catarrh and influenza. To make the tea, pour 1 pint of boiling water upon 1 oz. of herb, infuse 15 minutes, allow to cool, then strain and drink freely. If sugar and a little lemonpeel or juice be added it makes a refreshing summer drink.
Balm is a useful herb, either alone or in combination with others. It is excellent in colds attended with fever, as it promotes perspiration .
Used with salt, it was formerly applied for the purpose of taking away wens, and had the reputation of cleansing sores and easing the pains of gout.
John Hussey, of Sydenham, who lived to the age of 116, breakfasted for fifty years on Balm tea sweetened with honey, and herb teas were the usual breakfasts of Llewelyn Prince of Glamorgan, who died in his 108th year. Carmelite water, of which Balm was the chief ingredient, was drunk daily by the Emperor Charles V.
Commercial oil of Balm is not a pure distillate, but is probably oil of Lemon distilled over Balm. The oil is used in perfumery.
Balm is frequently used as one of the ingredients of pot-pourri. Mrs. Bardswell, in The Herb Garden, mentions Balm as one of the bushy herbs that are invaluable for the permanence of their leaf-odours, which,
'though ready when sought, do not force themselves upon us, but have to be coaxed out by touching, bruising or pressing. Balm with its delicious lemon scent, is by common consent one of the most sweetly smelling of all the herbs in the garden. Balm-wine was made of it and a tea which is good for feverish colds. The fresh leaves make better tea than the dry.'
---Refreshing Drink in Fever---
'Put two sprigs of Balm, and a little woodsorrel, into a stone-jug, having first washed and dried them; peel thin a small lemon, and clear from the white; slice it and put a bit of peel in, then pour in 3 pints of boiling water, sweeten and cover it close.'
'Claret Cup. One bottle of claret, one pint bottle of German Seltzer-water, a small bunch of Balm, ditto of burrage, one orange cut in slices, half a cucumber sliced thick, a liqueurglass of Cognac, and one ounce of bruised sugar-candy.
'Process: Place these ingredients in a covered jug well immersed in rough ice, stir all together with a silver spoon, and when the cup has been iced for about an hour, strain or decanter it off free from the herbs, etc.' (Francatelli's Cook's Guide.)
A bunch of Balm improves nearly all cups.
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