Melissa officinalis L


It’s a vivacious perennial plant with a strong lemon-like scent of approximately 70 cm high, with a quadrangular stem, erect, angular, villose, plain and very branched with a not so deep groove. Leaves, clearly petiolate, decussate arranged, are petiolate, opposite, oval-shaped and crenate. They are wide at the base, sharp and with soft hair of 8 cm long and 5 cm wide with a petiole of variable length. Limb is oval-shaped, elongated, thin and has a reticulate outstanding vein; edges are broadly toothed or crenate in the beneath face. The above face is shining green and the lower one is paler. It’s of rugose texture and emits a fragrant lemon odor when bruised. Flowers are grouped in cymes or axillary verticils of 3-6 whitish sub-sessile flowers, that might be yellowish-white or pink, as well. It has a few oval-shaped, lanceolate, bracts with a petiole. It also has a gibbous calyx at the base. Its corolla is bilabiate with an upper lip erect and flat and a lower one with three uneven lobes, where the middle one is always the longest. Fruits are a brown tetra-achene. It belongs to the Lamiaceae (=Labiatae) family.

Blooming begins in May and the harvesting of the plant has to be carried out prior to that in order to preserve its active principles, since as the plant flowers it loses part of its active principles.

It is original from central and middle Europe and probably from southern France. It is commonly found lengthwise the Iberian Peninsula. It grows in shaded and damp soil and in the forest; although, it is also cultivated in meadows and orchards as it is very ornamental and has a pleasant scent.

Part used

Stem with the leaves, and sometimes the flower apex.


Internal use

  • Digestive disorders, especially those of nervous origin. Digestive spasms, meteorism, flatulence, irritable colon or nervous originated gastritis, heavy and slow digestion, lack of appetite, hepatobiliary dyskinesia, cholecystitis, diarrhea, nausea, vomit, etc.
  • Nervous originated heart disorders: hypotension, tachycardia, palpitations.
  • Nervous disorders: nervousness, anxiety, stress, irritability, sleep disorders, insomnia, neuro-vegetative distony, depression, etc.
  • Blood pressure related headaches.
  • Menstrual disorders, dysmenorrhea.
  • Respiratory disorders: bronchitis, asthma, etc.

External use

  • Headaches, migraines, lumbalgia, rheumatism, arthrosis, arthralgia, contusion, etc. To be applied in massages or fomentations.
  • Wounds, insect bites (fresh plant),
  • Herpes labialis (oral Herpes simplex) and genital herpes.
  • In therapeutic baths to treat nervousness, insomnia, etc.


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- British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 1983.

- Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Norman Grainger Bisset (Ed). Max Wichtl. CRC Press.1994.

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- Bulletin officiel Nº 90/22 bis" del "Ministère des Affaires Sociales et de la Solidarité, Médicaments a base de Plantes.

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- Benigni, R; Capra, C; Cattorini, P. Piante Medicinali. Chimica, Farmacologia e Terapia. Milano: Inverni & Della Beffa, 1962.

- Bézanger-Beauquesne, L; Pinkas, M; Torck, M. Les Plantes dans la Therapeutique Moderne. 2ª. Paris: Maloine, 1986.

- Bézanger-Beauquesne, L; Pinkas, M; Torck, M; Trotin, F. Plantes Médicinales des Regions Tempérées. Paris: Maloine, 1980.

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