Buy dried yellowroot and other wild herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.
Bee balm is known by many names including Sweet Melissa, lemon balm, sweet balm, bergamot, Oswego tea, and monarda.
Bee balm is a mild, natural tranquilizer. It is used as a remedy for nervous conditions, headache, depression, tension, insomnia, flatulence, colds, flu, sore throats, hypertension, thyroid conditions (such as Grave’s disease), bronchitis, indigestion, nausea, asthma, cold sores, herpes, mumps, menstrual cramps, and colic. Sometimes bee balm is used to induce sweating and to bring on menstruation.
Bee balm contains polyphenols that fight harmful bacteria including streptococci. It also contains an anesthetic compound that relieves pain. Bee balm makes a great wound compress – it relieves pain, helps stop bleeding, and prevents infection. Bee balm compresses can also relieve gout. (Simmer fresh leaves a couple of minutes. Cool and apply to affected area.) Bee balm also relaxes the smooth muscles in the digestive tract which makes it useful for treating bowel disorders.
Bee balm is easy to preserve for the winter months. To make tincture, pick clean leaves and flower tops. Wash and put in a mason jar. Do not pack down. Cover with vodka (may dilute with water). Shake or stir gently every day to prevent mold growth (push the top plant material to bottom of jar). After a week or so, strain. Save resulting liquid (this is your tincture). If desired, make double strength by repeating the process with fresh plant material. Of course, tinctures should not be given to children or recovering alcoholics due to alcohol content. An average dose of bee balm tincture is one or two teaspoons four or five times a day (until condition is cured).
Fresh bee balm makes an excellent herbal tea. Combine with peppermint for upset stomach and with valerian for insomnia or nervous conditions. Bee balm is wonderful when used in scented pillows, potpourri, and the bath. To dry the leaves for winter use, harvest before flowers open. Dry quickly or leaves may turn black. Bee balm loses much of its fragrance when dried but retains healing properties for up to a year.
Native to North America and related to the mints, bee balm produces brightly colored flowers at the top of a tall stalk. The shaggy blooms usually range in color from hot pink to flaming red and burgundy. The branching plants grow to a height of four feet and likes rich, fairly moist, well-drained soil with a neutral ph. Bee balm will grow in full sun or partial shade. The plant is a perennial and is easily divided by division. Bee balm, like mint, can take over a flower bed quickly (it spreads by underground runners). Roots are very shallow so take care when weeding. Prune almost to the ground in the fall. Bee balm does not grow well where winters are warm and humid.
* Bee balm may interfere with some thyroid medications. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription (or over-the-counter) medications.