Melissa (botanical name Melissa officinalis) is also referred to as lemon balm, while Paracelsus, a physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist of the Renaissance period, described it as the 'Elixir of life'. In southern Europe, melissa is also known as the 'heart's delight'. Melissa has been traditionally used for its therapeutic properties for several centuries and is said to be one of the earliest herbs used in medicine. Its use has been widespread since the 17th century. Traditionally, this essential oil, reported to be introduced in England by the Romans, is used to alleviate melancholy, anxiety, depression and several other nervous problems.
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Melissa possesses reassuring properties and this oil works excellently as a general tonic. Belonging to the Lamiaceae family, melissa is also known to be a balm oil and is extracted by steam distilling the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. Since, this Labiate contains very small amount of genuine essential oil, it is highly expensive. Traditionally, melissa has also been used as a remedy for bee stings as well as to treat infertility and menstrual problems.
The lofty reputations earned by the melissa essential oil as 'sweet oil and 'common oil' are not for nothing. The oil is highly valued for its widespread use in almost all types of balms owing to its comforting and gentle attributes as well as its charming and enjoyable fragrance.
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As aforementioned, this essential oil is obtained by steam distilling the freshly collected buds, leaves and small green branches of melissa. Chemical analysis of melissa essential oil has revealed that it primarily encloses compounds, such as citronellal, cis ocimene, caryophyllene, acetate, trans ocimene, beta bourbonene, linalool, octanone, methyl hepenone, octanol, octenol, cis hexenol, copaene, neral, alpha humulene, delta cadinene, nerol, gamma cadinene and geraniol.
The melissa plant is native to the Mediterranean region and is popularly known as the bee plant for it is effective in treating bee stings. Nevertheless, this is not the only reason for the reputation of the plant. This plant is especially well known for its comforting, memory enhancing and anti-depressant properties. The several therapeutic properties of this plant are discussed briefly below.
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- Melissa essential oil has a soothing and comforting effect on the nerves. It not only helps to alleviate disorders of the nerves, but also acts as a stimulant for the nervous system. Melissa essential oil helps to keep the nervous system healthy, enables it to function appropriately and its potent aroma heals nervous disorders. The nervine properties of melissa essential oil helps to provide relief from as well as treating conditions, such as vertigo, nervous anxiety, spasms and others.
- Melissa possesses invigorating properties which help to bring about warm feelings and provides warmth to the respiratory system as well as the cardio-vascular system. These properties of melissa essential oil help to keep off frequent colds.
- This is one of the most important therapeutic properties of melissa essential oil. These properties not only help to cheer up one's mood, but also drive away depression. It has been established that using this essential oil brings about a feeling of happiness and joy in people suffering from depression. This oil also promotes clarity of thoughts and enables one to concentrate and encourages softer notions regarding life situations that an individual may experience.
- Melissa essential oil is beneficial for the stomach, as it helps to stimulate gastric digestion and increases appetite. In addition, this oil also offers comfort to the stomach, tones it up and strengthens the muscles of the stomach. The most important attributes of melissa essential oil includes its extreme effectiveness in healing the wounds, ulcers or scratches in the stomach and offers safeguard from various infections. Melissa essential oil also ensures the adequate secretion of gastric juices as well as bile into the stomach.
- Melissa essential oil also possesses sedative and tranquilizing properties. Use of this essential oil has a soothing effect on the body and mind. This oil is effective for alleviating inflammations, nervousness, anxiety, shock and trauma. In addition, the sedative property of this essential oil obtained by steam distilling the leaves, tops and twigs of melissa plant helps to induce sound sleep and is useful for people suffering from insomnia or enduring mental stress. It brings peace to an individual by comforting his or her body, mind and the soul. Long back, melissa essential oil was used by fatigued soldiers to enable them to get rid of weariness and provide relaxation.
- Melissa essential oil is particularly beneficial for women, since it helps in promoting menstrual discharge. As a result, this essential oil is widely used to treat several problems associated with Post Menstrual Syndrome and as well as menstruation. It is especially effective in treating conditions, such as irregular menses, obstructed menses, pain as well as acute tiredness experienced by some women during their menstrual periods. Other problems treated with the help of melissa essential oil include menopause as well as exasperation and depression endured by some women during the post-menopause period.
- Melissa essential oil is an effective remedy for reducing fevers or bringing down high body temperatures during fevers. The sudorific properties of this oil also help the body to get rid of toxins produced by the body during fevers through sweating. Melissa essential oil is also anti-bacterial and this property enables it to combat bacterial and microbial contagions in the body - including the infections that are responsible for causing fevers.
- As mentioned above, melissa essential oil possesses anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties which help it to fight against various infections. This oil is particularly effective in treating conditions like the infections of the intestines, colon, the kidneys and the urinary tract.
- Melissa essential oil is also anti-spasmodic denoting that it helps in providing relief from spasms and convulsions. In fact, spasm is an unreasonable and extreme contraction of the body muscles and it can occur in the muscular system, respiratory system, digestive system as well as the nervous systems causing acute muscular cramps, breathlessness, coughs and well as acute abdominal pains respectively. It is important to note that you should never take spasms lightly or ignore them for they may even prove to be fatal. Since melissa essential oil is sedative as well as tranquilizing, its use is highly effective in proving relief from spasms rapidly and relax the muscles.
- Melissa essential oil possesses tonic or stimulant properties, which are used for overall health benefits. In fact, a tonic helps to maintain the proper functioning of the body organs by keeping them healthy and stimulating them. In addition, tonics augment the immune system and also provide strength and revitalize the body. Some specific elements of melissa essential oil function as an effective tonic and maintain the above mentioned functions.
- Melissa essential oil possesses carminative properties, which means that it is effective in relieving flatulence and expelling the gas formed in the stomach and intestines. This oil expels gas formed in the stomach and intestines by lessening the pressure in the abdominal muscles.
- The essential oil obtained by steam distilling the leaves, tops and twigs of melissa possesses hypotensive properties. This denotes that the use of the oil helps to bring down high blood pressure or reduce hypertension. In fact, melissa essential oil is extremely beneficial for people suffering from hypertension or faced with the risks of brain hemmorhage and/ or heart attack when their blood pressure rises. This oil is useful in bringing down the blood pressure to normal levels and save people from heart attack or bleeding in the brain.
- Diaphoretic and sudorific
- Although both the terms 'diaphoretic' and 'sudorific' denote the same thing - perspiration or sweating, they are also different in some ways. Melissa essential oil possesses both these properties and, hence, encourages perspiration or sweating. These are important attributes of this oil, as sweating is important for our health. Sweating or perspiration enables the body to get rid of the toxic substances as well as some gases like nitrogen that are detrimental for our health through the pores on the skin. In fact, getting rid of harmful gases through the pores on the skin is also referred to as breathing of the skin. In addition, perspiration or sweating also helps to bring down the body temperature and cool the body.
- Addition benefits
- Apart from the benefits of melissa essential oil discussed above, this oil is also useful in treating other conditions, such as ulcers, sores, infections caused by fungus, herpes, tiredness and headaches. In addition, use of this essential oil also brings about clarity in thoughts and enhances memory.
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Melissa essential oil possesses soothing properties that helps to provide comfort to the body as well as the mind. This essential oil's ability to make the body relax is attributed to its inspiring and lemony aroma. As a result, melissa essential oil is effective in treating several medical conditions, including allergies and insect bites. It can also be used to provide relief from colic, nausea and indigestion. Melissa essential oil is also useful for skin care and is often used as an insect repellent.
The essential oil obtained by steam distilling the leaves, flowering tops and twigs of melissa, is also beneficial for patients suffering from respiratory tract ailments, asthma, shock, migraine, menstrual problems, insomnia, nervous anxiety as well as depression. This essential oil possesses sedative, carminative (any medication that helps to expel gas from the body or relieves flatulence), and tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral as well as digestive properties. In addition, melissa essential oil also has other uses, especially industrial. It is expensively used by the perfumery industry for preparing various aromatic formulations and is also used in cosmetics, fragrance soaps. This essential oil is also used to add flavour to foods, especially confectionery, and beverages.
Similar to the essential oils obtained from rose and jasmine, melissa essential oil is very expensive because it is available in scant amounts. Hence, this oil is often adulterated by adding other oils, such as lemongrass essential oil. Only pure melissa essential oil containing the valuable therapeutic properties of the plant is used in aromatherapy, as only this will yield the desired results. A substandard quality of the oil or melissa essential oil adulterated with other oils will not have the desired results and, hence, would render the exercise futile.
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Since the leaves, buds and twigs of the melissa plant yields very less amount of essential oil, it is pretty expensive. This is one reason why unscrupulous traders often adulterate melissa essential oil by mixing citrus or lemongrass oils that are available in plenty. Hence, when you are buying this essential oil, you need to be extra cautious to ensure that you are getting the genuine melissa oil.
The benefits offered by melissa essential oil notwithstanding, it should never be used internally, primarily because it has been identified as a narcotic and may result in adverse after-effects. Pregnant women should avoid this essential oil during the initial five months of pregnancy. In addition, always use this essential oil in low concentrations. Water down melissa essential oil with appropriate carrier oils or by blending it with other essential oils before use.
Although melissa essential oil is known to be non-toxic and safe for external use, it may occasionally cause skin irritations or commotions, especially among those who are sensitive. Hence, it is advisable that people having sensitive skin should keep off melissa essential oil.