Mellisa balm is a perennial plant, 30-150 cm tall. The stem is erect, branched, four-sided. The leaves are heart-ovate with strongly toothed leaf edges. The flowers are small, on short stems, pale pink, pale purple or white, placed at the bases of the upper leaves. The plant blooms starting from the second year of life - in July and August. The fruit consists of four light brown seeds, egg-shaped.
Mellisa balm is often also called lemon mint, because its essential oils smell like lemon. Melissa has an airy lemon aroma only until the moment of flowering, after which the smell disappears and remains even unpleasant.
Mellisa balm leaves and tops of the plant are used for medicinal purposes. The plant for the drug is collected until it blooms, dried in the fresh air in shaded places or in dryers, not exceeding 40C. It is recommended to store dried drugs in paper bags in well-ventilated rooms. About 3-4 crops of this plant can be harvested during one season. It is best to harvest Mellisa in the afternoon when the weather is cloudy to reduce the loss of essential oils.
The medicinal effect of medicinal melissa is related to the essential oil contained in it. Triterpene compounds - citral and citronellal, monoterpentine compounds - geraniol, linalool and citronellol, found in the old leaves of the plant, were found in the plant. It is citral that gives Mellisa its pleasant lemon aroma.
In modern research, about 65 terpenoids have been found in the medicinal melissa essential oil, the basis of all of them being neral (citral b) and geranial (citral a), as well as myrcene, geraniol, linole, myrcein, citronella. The young leaves of the plant from the first harvest contain up to 0.29% essential oil, the second harvest up to 0.13%, the third only 0.1%.
Mellisa leaves also contain carotene, vitamin C, ursulic acid, rosmarinic acid, oleic acid; tannins, mucilages, alkalis, non-glucose bitters. The leaves of the plant also contain small amounts of flavonoids.
The seed of the plant contains up to 20% vegetable fat.
Mellisa has a calming, antispasmodic, sleep-promoting effect. Mellisa extracts work effectively as sedatives, which make it possible to reduce the doses of synthetic agents or to give them up altogether. The sedative and antispasmodic properties appear when using plant preparations already in small doses, and further doses do not increase the effectiveness of the effect.
The pharmacological properties of the plant are directly related to the essential oil present in the plant. The compounds of the essential oil act on the brain, directly on the limbic system, which controls the autonomic function, and also protects the cerebral hemispheres from irritants that come from the periphery. This characteristic of Mellisa allowed it to be included among the phytotranquilizers of a mild nature.
Melissa promotes appetite, stimulates the secretion of gastric juice, eliminates fermentation abnormalities, strengthens gastric motility, has choleretic and carminative effects.
In 1976, the French doctor Henri Leclerc determined the medicinal effects of melissa against arrhythmias. It slows down breathing, reduces heart rate, lowers arterial blood pressure.
Mellisa has hypoglycemic, astringent properties and stimulates menstruation. Melissa leaves, collected before flowering, can be used as an effective diuretic.
Anti-inflammatory, bactericidal and antiviral properties have also been identified. Asthenic aldehydes (citral, citronenal) exert antimicrobial activity against pathogenic fungi and tuberculosis microbacteria.
Rosmarinic acid provides antiviral activity of the plant against herpes virus, influenza type A and B, measles and Newcastle disease. Rosmarinic acid produces anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and antioxidant effects.
Melissa extract blocks connections with immunoglobulin receptors of Graves' hormone, which activate the internal secretion of the thyroid gland, thus blocking the biological activity of Graves' immunoglobulin and releasing iodine-containing thyroid hormones.
The cytostatic effect of Mellisa water extracts has been determined experimentally. Caffeic acid and an unidentified glycoside found in Mellisa leaves that do not contain tannins inhibit protein synthesis in a cell-free environment.
Mellisa preparations are considered promising for the treatment of endotoxic shock and other immunopathological conditions, and when lemon balm is used in the cold period of the year, it will strengthen the body's natural defenses.
In folk medicine, Mellisa is used mainly in case of allergic dermatoses (eczema, skin itching, neurodermatitis, etc.), also as a diuretic to stimulate digestion and increase appetite. Externally, poultices, decoctions, teas, and even a mash of fresh plant leaves are used for gout, polyarthritis, paralysis, boils, bruises, and ulcers.
Melissa is used for excessive irritability. The plant perfectly regulates sexual function, has a calming effect on excessive activity, and at the same time enhances potency. It is used in mixtures, together with other herbs, to treat prostate adenoma, impotence, acute prostatitis, spermatorrhea, cystospasm and painful erection.