Lemon Balm is an easy to grow garden herb prized as safe and effective herbal mood enhancer. It can be useful for alleviating anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, melancholy, and generally uplifting mood. Lemon Balm is helpful for digestive upset, menstrual cramps, and menopause. A safe herb for children, substitute glycerin for the alcohol in this recipe to make an alcohol-free tincture.
50g Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) flowering tops
100ml high-proof alcohol (we recommend 191 proof for extracting the volatile oils but you can use vodka in a pinch)
Step 1: Harvesting
The best time to harvest lemon balm is early in the morning before the sun hits the leaves or becomes too intense, this helps preserve the volatile oil content of the plant. The volatile oils and medicinal compounds in leaves become most concentrated just before a plant begins to bloom. When you see the first few flower buds form, it is a perfect time to harvest.
When making fresh tinctures it is ideal to place the processed herb into the alcohol immediately after harvesting. If you need more time, then place your harvested herb in a sealed container in a cool location and use as soon as possible.
Step 2: Adding your menstuum
Chop the freshly harvested herb very finely. Make sure to do this out of direct sunlight as the volatile oils will escape in the heat of the sun. Place the finely chopped herb in a class jar and pour the alcohol over top. You may need to press the herb down to submerge it or top it up with a bit more alcohol to cover. The herb will settle more after a day or so of being in the alcohol. Make sure to label your jar!
Step 3: Infusing
Let the mixture sit in a cool dark place for a minimum of two or three weeks. You don’t need to shake fresh-plant tinctures as they create their own natural osmotic current.
Step 4: Straining & bottling
After two weeks or so you can squeeze and press out the spent herb material through muslin and discard. You now have a finished tincture ready to pour into labeled tincture bottles.
To use: Take 1- 3mls of tincture as needed, up to 3 times per day.