A Deeper Look Series: Melissa Essential Oil

Melissa is one of the most expensive essential oils. Considered a premium essential oil, the cost is not the only factor setting it apart. Melissa is perhaps more commonly known as lemon balm, but also goes by the names common balm, bee balm, heart’s delight and the honey plant. In history, the melissa plant was believed to promote longevity and to cure ailments from digestive problems to heartache. It is the most useful essential oil for anxiety and depression, aiding in coming to terms with life regrets. Melissa Essential Oil centres a person at the heart level—away from the worries and anxieties of the head.

#8 of 10: Melissa Essential Oil


Melissa is a low, bushy herb growing from 30-90 centimetres (12-35 inches) in height. It is a perennial plant with serrated, oval leaves and small flowers that are usually either white or pink.

Melissa produces a very expensive oil because the plant yields so little of it. Most of the moisture inside the herb is water. The oil is manufactured by steam distillation from the leaves and the flowers. It is a light yellow or amber liquid with a strong aroma of lemon.

The largest manufacturing countries of Melissa Essential Oil are France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Melissa, the herb, is native to the Mediterranean countries and grows widely all over Europe, North America, North Africa and Siberia.

The name “melissa” comes from the Greek word “melittena” meaning honey bee, and, as Dioscorides, Greek botanist and physician (d.90 AD), remarked, it is a sweet attraction for bees: “Bees do delight in the herb.”

Melissa is perhaps more commonly known as lemon balm, but also goes by the names of common balm, bee balm, heart’s delight and the honey plant.

History of Melissa

The history of melissa goes all the way back to antiquity. The plant was believed to promote longevity and to cure ailments from digestive problems to heartache—qualities that modern science, more or less, corroborates.

Paracelsus (1493-1541) called melissa an “elixir of life.”

Avicenna, Persian polymath (980-1037), had this to say of melissa: “[melissa] maketh the heart merry and joyful, and strengthens the vital spirits.”

The 17th Century English writer, gardener and diarist John Evelyn also believes in the powerful psychological and mental effects of melissa: “[melissa] balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthens the memory and powerfully (chases) away melancholy.”

Lemon balm was an ingredient in a famous herbal tonic and eau-de-toilette called the Carmelite water, first created by the Carmelite nuns in the 14th Century and consequently popularised and marketed as eau de Carmes.

Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Actions


The main constituents of Melissa Essential Oil include gerania (37.2%) and neral (24.1%). Some of the other components are citral, linalyl acetate, germacrene, copaene and caryophyllene.

Melissa Essential Oil is a spasmodic; it relieves involuntary muscular movements. It is antiviral as well as antibacterial. It is a sudorific (it induces sweating), a nervine (it calms the nerves) and febrifuge (it reduces fever).

Melissa can be used as an anti-depressive, and it imparts to its user a feeling of well-being and vitality. It can also reduce fever and blood pressure as well as diminish abdominal bloating.

Effects of Melissa Essential Oil on the Heart

Melissa Essential Oil is a vasodilator. It widens blood vessels and thus lowers high blood pressure. It normalises breathing and slows heartbeat on an agitated person. Melissa is recommended for people with heart weakness and for those who get excited easily.

Massage Melissa Essential Oil diluted on the chest, breathe in neat from a bottle or use a diffuser.

Melissa and the Digestive System

The effects of Melissa Essential Oil on the digestive system are similar to those of peppermint and fennel. It relieves tummy cramps and reduces the amount of intestinal gas.

Melissa can be used to treat babies suffering from colic—provided the oil is always diluted.

Melissa invigorates the gallbladder thus facilitating the release bile into the small intestine. It helps liver to produce bile and aids in digestion of foods, especially the fats.

Melissa Essential Oil is recommended for indigestion, nausea and vomiting.

Melissa Essential Oil Supports the Immune System


According to a German study, Melissa Essential Oil has a calming and healing effect on herpes simplex and herpes zoster viruses.

Mixed with Rose Essential Oil and when applied neat on the herpes the lesion may disappear within 24 hours.

Please be careful not to apply melissa on the skin surrounding the herpes. Undiluted Melissa Essential Oil can easily irritate the skin.

In a medical test conducted in 2003, the immunostimulating activity of the extract compared favourably to that of the synthetic drug, levamisole.

How Melissa Helps the Nervous System

According to Chinese Traditional Medicine, Melissa Essential Oil smoothes the flow of Qi-energy.

This is good news to those of us suffering from stress, anxiety or insomnia.

Melissa reduces nervous tension, anger and confusion while uplifting the mood.

It is good for vertigo and nervous shock, and may help with migraine.

The regulating and normalising effect of Melissa Essential Oil is a remedy for those asthmatics whose ailment is caused by nervousness and anxiety.

Melissa Essential Oil for the Female Reproductive System

Melissa has been historically used to cure infertility.

As an antispasmodic and analgesic compound, melissa’s effects on the female reproductive system are calming, regulating and relaxing. It can be used to treat irregular and/or painful menstruation.

The method of application is massage on the lower abdomen. Melissa Essential Oil should always be diluted to about 1% of the solution when applied on the skin.

Melissa Essential Oil for Skin Care


Melissa Essential Oil can be used to treat various skin diseases, such as acne and eczema. It has a soothing effect on allergies and, with chamomile, is the most popular essential oil to treat them.

When treating skin problems with Melissa Essential Oil, remember to use low concentrations. As with many other healing processes, the Herxheimer effect is applicable to this case also. The symptoms of the disease may often get worse but will eventually turn for the better if you stick with the treatment.

Melissa balances oily skin and helps with itching caused by insect bites. It can be used as an insect repellent—although a very expensive one. A better alternative for most budgets would be citronella.

Energetics and Effects on the Mind

Melissa’s energy is dry and cool. It reduces heat in the liver, cools the heart and releases stagnant Qi-energy. It is good for nervous tension, insomnia and restlessness.

Melissa is associated with sensitivity and intuition. It lends wisdom to the heart and contentment to life.

Melissa’s “sweet, fresh fragrance” helps in situations of sorrow and grief, when a loved one has died, for instance. It instils courage to the mind and replaces despair with understanding, and even acceptance.

Melissa Essential Oil works gently on the heart chakra giving its user glimpses to unconditional love.

It is the most useful essential oil for anxiety and depression, and aids in coming to terms with life regrets. All in all, Melissa Essential Oil acts to centre a person at the heart level—away from the worries and anxieties of the head.

How to Apply Melissa Essential Oil

Melissa Essential Oil can be used in massage or skin care by diluting it with a carrier oil, lotion or cream. The percentage of melissa in any solution should not be higher than 1%.

You can also inhale Melissa Essential Oil either directly or from a diffuser or an oil vapouriser.

When using melissa in bath water, make sure you dilute it before adding to the water because it may otherwise have an aggravating effect on the skin. A suitable quantity of oil for a bath full of water is 3-4 drops of Melissa Essential Oil.

Other Uses of Melissa Essential Oil

Melissa Essential Oil diluted is routinely used in food, alcohol and soft drink production. It is often found in cosmetics, perfumes and toiletries. It may sometimes be used in pharmaceutical medicines.

Safety of Melissa Essential Oil


While Melissa Essential Oil is non-toxic, it may cause skin irritation for some individuals. It may also cause an allergic reaction. Mild dilutions are therefore strongly recommended when using melissa on the skin.

As one of the most expensive essential oils, melissa is often adulterated. Additions may include lemon, citronella and/or lemongrass. Always look for pure, undiluted, organic melissa if you are seeking the highest quality for the price you are paying.

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