Lemon balm Experience

Personal Experiences with Lemon Balm tincture.

The following is a write up of my experience of lemon balm taken in tincture form.

The tincture – I made the tincture myself using the traditional method, that is to say I filled my jar with lemon balm and then filled it up with 55° local fruit alcohol. Sorry no measures and as for the alcohol, I always try to use home-distilled alcohol or at least locally produced fruit alcohol. It may have a lower alcohol content but in my opinion the fruit add soul and its less industrial.

I took a teaspoon full of the tincture twice daily.

Uses of Lemon balm – sedative, generally used for sleeping problems, nervousness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks. Primary action on the nervous system and secondary on the digestive, heart, thyroid and endocrine systems.

First observations – Things that would normally have triggered an emotional reaction (yes I am someone overly sensitive) didn’t have this effect. I felt like there was a distance between myself and what was happening outside myself (not bad, isn’t this what we try and attain when witnessing ourselves when meditating?), this sensation was quite pleasant.

Observations after three weeks  – little by little the effect of the tincture became oppressive. A heavy feeling, in fact the sedative action was taking me over.  At the same time, the inner me remained centred and calm. I noticed a more acute perception as if noticed even more than usual peoples motivations and weaknesses…I had a great need to be alone. People began to perturb me.

The speed at which I did things and my intellectual reactions were considerably diminished, as if my brain had been slowed down (not that it is extremely fast at the best of timesJ)

I had lost the ‘action’ part of my personality and carried out my business much more slowly.

I also had a feeling of melancholy, sadness, even slight depression.

The culminating point was when I felt totally ‘drugged up’ with a physical tiredness and feeling of being disconnected with the rest of the world.

In terms of the heart sphere, I soon felt a slowing down and my blood pressure lowered.

The very powerful ‘yin’ energy showed itself in a weariness/listlessness. I noticed dry skin on my face and a slight depression that I accepted.

Symbolically, this plant is linked to the heart and physically it can help calm an excitable heart. I felt that energetically it allowed me to look honestly at the needs of the heart, to be more sensitive to circulating energies at this level, opening of the heart, admit my fragility as well…a powerful plant!

Plant Spirit Meditation

I used Eliot Cowan’s system of meditating with the plant while listening to shamanic drumming for 15 minutes with the intention to ask for information from the plant about its actions.

Results – In order to meet the plant, I had the impression of entering deeply into the earth, I came out in a place that I remembered from childhood, a secret garden, where I used to go to be alone and close to nature. This very feminine, internalising aspect was present during the three weeks of experience.

The first message was very symbolic and I haven’t completely understood it yet : the lemon balm plant came into me through my vagina, went up into my body until it reached my head…..was the plant teaching me by entering into me or was it showing me that it had an action on all the systems….reproductive, digestive, cardiac, endocrine..?

The principal message of the meditation was visual and very clear…two large cords attached to the bottom of my feet and anchored strongly to the earth and at the same time my third eye was wide open, pulsating with orange and red colours. I understood that these images symbolised the stabilising, organic and grounded side of this plant at the same time a developed, strong and powerful perception.

Conclusion – What is sure for me is that lemon balm is a powerful plant especially for the central nervous system. I ask myself questions in terms of doses and duration…of course a lot depends on the case in hand. In terms of my experimentation, I didn’t have any major problems in the relevant spheres and it is surely for this reason that I felt certain negative effects even sometimes the opposite of those wished for, for example light depression, melancholy, nervousness – perhaps due to large doses or too long a duration. I already have quite a developed yin side so I think that adding more of this energy takes me far too much into the earth and inside myself. I imagine this being more beneficial for beings with too much yang. I also have a generally low blood pressure so a plant that slows down the heart rhythm takes me easily into a state of tiredness.

I was surprised at the powerfulness of this plant and I am now convinced of the important role that lemon balm has in herbal medicine. It shows that it is extremely important to understand the patient’s personal profile and the desired effect for example high doses could provoke sleepiness and sensations of sedation and micro doses on the contrary could stimulate the person. I think in the future I will begin with herbal infusions or low doses and keep to 21 days max. Seems to show interesting features for very speedy, highly tensed, overly active profiles that really need to simmer down, calm and anchor themselves both to the ground and with their inner selves.

What is interesting is that I did this experiment after having done a similar thing with St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Everyone uses St John’s Wort, here in France, it is one of the number one plants especially for light depressive states, sleep, problems etc and lemon balm is seen as more a herbal tea plant, nice but with not much character. Wow has my impression changed, St john’s wort had a much gentler effect, working on rhythms (melatonin) and needing time to take effect, it irons things out, less ups and downs and in comparison Lemon balm slows everything down, heart, thyroid, nervous system are really bought right down to a go slow level.

I will continue researching the effects of lemon balm with the hydrosol next.




The summer holidays are just a distant memory, the kids are back into the rhythm of school and autumn is on our doorstep.

What happens to nature in Autumn? Well one of the first things we remark are the leaves that change colour, going from a myriad of different shades of green to orange, copper, brown, red, yellow, this is often a beautiful site. The leaves change colour however because they are no longer irrigated by the circulating fluids within the tree, a small plug of woody material gradually blocks the entrance at the base of the leaf (at exactly the point where the leave will eventually break off) and bit by bit the arrival of water and minerals is reduced and due to this the level of chlorophyll (that makes the leaves green) decreases, this is part of the process leading towards the winter period of silent dormance.

As we are part of nature, even though we are tucked away in our centrally heated, insulated houses we too are affected by autumns transition. The circulation in our lives and bodies is less vigorous, at this time of year maybe our hair is falling out more and seems drier, we feel tired. Instinctively we start to prepare for winter, getting a stock of wood in, preserving the surplus vegetables from the garden, concentrating on making our homes feel homely. This is a transition period and the movement leans towards interiority, it is necessary and healthy to follow these natural rhythms.

Autumn is a period of purification and elimination both on a physical and emotional level, be ready to let go not only of toxins but of old feelings and emotions, feelings of sadness can often come up during this time too.

Sensitive to the changing seasons, I have learnt to allow these, sometimes uncomfortable emotions to rise, I try to welcome them and then let them go on their way, feeling them keeps them moving, trying to ignore them will block them in the physical body and this is when illness and disease can bed in.

Making sure that you spend time alone is important, time to quieten down after summer’s activity, time to let go of unwanted thoughts and feelings, time to feel nostalgic, sad even and time to assess where one is and where one is going.

I often glide between inner work, writing, and contemplation and outer activity linked to preparing for winter. Summer may be gone but Autumn is a wonderful period for being close to nature, harvesting chestnuts, nettle tops and wild fruit, sitting and contemplating, listening to the birds, enjoying the colours and the beautiful light at this time of the year. I try and go slowly, no need to rush, observing and just being are also part of these activities. Trying to sense my way with my instincts rather than with my mind. 

The good news is that there are many different things we can do with herbs to help us optimise and benefit from nature’s rhythms. There is no ‘formula’ so to say, the best thing to do in my opinion when choosing herbs for oneself or a patient in order to help ride the waves of autumn’s transition is work with one’s intuition. There are already many clues indicated by the vegetable world at this period, using what is available from natures autumn offerings is a very good place to start and at the same time as choosing remedies for the seasonal change, autumn is a major time for harvesting roots and berries for the rest of the year.

The first, of course that comes to mind is good old dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), what would we do without it? A wonderful plant all year round, have you noticed there are plenty of young rosettes that have popped up everywhere, the freshest leaves are great added to salads and cooked vegetables and their diuretic action will help free us of those unwanted toxins. It is also the optimum moment to collect the roots, the energy is entering the earth at this time and the ground isn’t yet too hard for digging and it is now that the roots taste their best, a sure sign that it is the moment to harvest them. They are exactly what we are looking for, everyone tends to think of dandelion’s action on the liver, which is very true, acting gently to cleanse the liver, gall bladder and pancreas and stimulate the secretion of bile but dandelion is also an excellent kidney tonic and drainer, helping drain toxins and unwanted emotions. Read the rest of this entry »

Trifolium pratense

Viola tricolor

Mentha spicata

Origanum vulgare

Calendula officinalis

Artemesia vulgaris


Yarrow is a member of the huge asteracea family, with nearly 13000 species spread across 1500 genuses and the most evolved family of the dicotyledons, It grows all over the place and often in abondance, along roadsides, wastelands, prairies often indicating a dry, un-alkaline type soil.

Its latin name refers to Achilles, the famous Greek hero of the Trojan war, who used yarrow to help heal the many wounds suffered by his army and millefeuille meaning a thousand leaves, which refers to the way the leaves are divided.. I love Yarrow, I love Yarrow for its availability and dependability and diversity of uses. As we all know it is a great plant for cuts and wounds, it not only helps heal the physical wound but also the emotional wound that often goes with the shock of an accident. Yarrow’s complexity is seen in the way that the flower has developped, it is a corymb of tiny corymbs, a highly evolved genus within in an already highly evolved family. This complexity and intensity can also be found in its taste, which is an explosion of diffferent layers, spicy, aromatic, tannic, balsamic, bitter, pungent, camphory to name but a few. It has something deep about it, its healing goes deep, deep into scars, on a physical level it is a good emergency plant as its ability to go deep into a wound and at the same time disinfect it is a most valuable tool, this ability to go deeply occurs also on emotional and subtle levels. I have used Yarrow essential oil to help heal wounds occuring in my,subtle bodies and really felt a consolidating and scarring taking place mending a ‘wound’ that was loosing energy rather than blood. On many occassions I have had feed back from others and personal experience of Yarrow revealing deep emotional wounds that are ready to be dealt with, it seems to have the ability to go to places that have been inaccessible.

On a more concret level, I find Yarrow very helpful in tea mixes for issues related to the female, hormonal cycle, its progesterone-like action makes it an important element,  I like to put both progesterone and oestrogen-like plants in these mixes, feeling that the organism will choose what it needs. However Yarrow at the same time fulfils an important role of a chologogue helping the liver to clean out any hormones that are waste material- thus fulfilling a double role or maybe even triple if we tale into account its circulatory action helping the removal of these spent hormones from the liver.

Some Musings on the subject of Herb Robert

This is a musing about Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)…… please note nothing I say here is scientificaly proven,  remotely logical to many people or has any justification outside my own feelings and impressions.

I have dried Herb Robert once disastrously, the rubbery stems just wouldn’t dry howver hard I tried… a bit like the stems of Ramsons (Allium ursinam) when you dry them. I have never used it in practise, except in herbal tea form for myself and even then I didn’t really continue as I should have done. Having said all that it is a plant that I love and adore and I have hung around it for the last two or three years without really getting close. A bit like a person that attracts you for some unknown reason but you take a long time to even start to get to know each other let alone deepen the relationship. However this summer with my great friend and colleague Francoise Guinois-Pillet, Herb Robert started to reveal himself or maybe its more correct to say that we were a bit more ready to take his teachings on board. I speak about him as a person, but that is the way I feel about this plant that has such a lot of character . Anyway the first meeting was very strong and quite emotional, I felt as if I was meeting a part of myself…but then this plant does teach us about relationships and aren’t all relationships a mirror of ourselves. I unfortunately didn’t take any notes about this first contact…that will teach me to think I can remember it all. I did however come face to face with this plant again shortly after in England whilst teaching at Herbfest in Somerset, yes a huge, powerful example of Geranium Robert in the wooded lane near the venue. During our three day stay, I visited him regularly  and spoke about him to my herb walk group, at this point I felt that he was teaching about boundaries in relationships…sacred, personal space in relationship, instead of moving towards someone that you want to get closer to, step back into oneself and meet the person in oneself…not explaining myself very clearly here…real partnership is about two whole and seperate people who meet but retain their seperatness, there is no neediness. I don’t know if you have ever noticed that the flowers grow in twos and each flower has its own petiole, they are together but separate from each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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