Rosemary Gladstar has shared a recipe for an herbal infusion called Sweet Melissa Tea.  It calls for the following dried herbs:

3 parts Melissa Herb (Lemon Balm)

1 part Lemon Verbena Leaf

1 part Chamomile Flower (German)

1 part St. John's Wort Herb & Flower

She encourages us to drink the tea daily - often and as much as we want.

The star player in this recipe is Melissa Herb, and Rosemary writes that Melissa "is a wonderfully relaxing, yet gently stimulating herb.  It increases energy in the system by helping to release energy blocks and stress."

Melissa Herb

The Greeks gave Melissa its name which so happened to be the name they gave the honeybee, as well.  The plant's vibrant green leaves and mild lemon fragrance mark backyard herb gardens with a summery beauty.  

Peter Holmes indicates Melissa as a cordial herb for its ability to influence the heart.  Drawn to the rhythm of both heart and blood, it gently caresses to relax and restore.  Its effects even reach the brain where it helps to balance emotions and improve cognition.  Such stabilizing action makes Melissa appropriate for high blood pressure, heart palpitations, tachycardia, and, because it can assist with irritability and forgetfulness, it may prove useful to those with early-stage Alzheimer's disease.

Offering stress-relieving, nerve-soothing, and mood-enhancing properties, Melissa can help with nervous stomach, difficult digestion, tension-induced headaches, dream-disturbed sleep, and can assist in states of extreme emotion "of both the depressive and manic kind," as well as in cases of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

David Winston suggests making a tea of Melissa Herb, Chamomile Flower, and Linden Flower & Leaf to help enable sleep and a tea of Melissa Herb and St. John's Wort Herb & Flower to ease the despondency of seasonal affective disorder.

Lemon Verbena Leaf

Another lemon-scented herb, Lemon Verbena offers benefit to the digestive system through its easing of indigestion, cramps, bloating, and flatulence.  It soothes stomach lining, supports the digestion of fats, and promotes the health of the liver.  

Lemon Verbena also relieves a restless mind, allowing for easier passage into slumber.

Digestive upset can negatively impact the mind, and a stressed mind can disturb digestion.  Lemon Verbena, through its ability to help the digestive system and to relieve anxiety, links the gut with the brain in a happy marriage of peace and contentment.

Chamomile Flower

Chamomile Flower, too, influences the gut and brain in a positive way by helping with the effects of stress on the stomach and bowel and by helping to relieve nervous headaches and sleeplessness.

David Winston writes that "Chamomile is one of my favorite remedies for stress-induced gastrointestinal symptoms; you get stressed out, and you develop diarrhea, nervous stomach, constipation, acid reflux, heartburn, bowel spasms, or hiccups.  I combine Chamomile Flower with Catnip Leaf & Flower, Hops Flower, or Valerian Root for people with these conditions."

St. John's Wort Herb & Flower

Commonly thought of as an herb to help treat mild to moderate depression, St. John's Wort also figures prominently as an herb to assist with nerve damage, pain, and numbness, especially in topical form where it can be appropriately applied in a number of instances including Bell's palsy, shingles, trigeminal neuralgia, and in injuries to those areas of the body where nerves are heavily congregated such as the fingertips and toes.

But in the area of depression, the best application of St. John's Wort is when gastrointestinal issues such as biliousness (gastric distress caused by a disorder of the liver or gall bladder), sour stomach, dyspepsia (indigestion), irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or constipation create a joyless existence for the sufferer.  

Those afflicted with seasonal affective disorder also know the stress of a joyless existence.  Despondency due to lack of sunlight can be addressed by making a tea of Melissa Herb and St. John's Wort Herb & Flower.

Once again, we have an herb to use to help the gut and brain communicate harmoniously.

* * * * 

These four herbs seem to operate on a pathway between the enteric brain and the central nervous system brain.  Since communication between the gut and brain is direct and constant, then a synergy in the form of this tea has great potential to address some of the stress shared by upset digestion and an anxious mind.

Creating an herb garden is a satisfying pastime if just for the sake of the way it looks, the myriad fragrances it offers, and for the pollinators it attracts.  But just as satisfying is allowing your herb garden to nourish you in the form of delightful, health-promoting teas.  Harnessing the sun's power, herbs communicate its sustenance to us.  Let the sun shine in . . .

SOURCES:  Peter Holmes' The Energetics of Western Herbs, David Winston's Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief


Melissa Herb (Lemon Balm), Melissa officinalis, organic

May affect thyroid hormone levels and inhibit binding of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to TSH receptors.  In large amounts, Melissa Herb is a thyroxin inhibitor.  Avoid with Hashimoto thyroiditis and other hypothyroid conditions.  Large amounts of Melissa Herb may be antagonistic to Synthroid and Levoxyl.

Lemon Verbena Leaf, Aloysia triphylla, organic

Safe to consume when used appropriately.

Chamomile Flower (German), Matricaria recutita (M. chamomilla), organic

Avoid if allergic to members of the Asteraceae family (composites).  Avoid with blood thinning medication.  Co-administration of iron-fortified bread and Chamomile flower tea reduced absorption of the iron by 47%.  Use of Chamomile flower as a highly-concentrated hot tea is noted as emetic. One authority advises against daily use.

St. John's Wort Herb & Flower, Hypericum perforatum, organic/wild crafted

Avoid during lactation.  Avoid excessive sunlight and tanning while using.  May decrease effect of medication broken down by the liver.  Avoid if using birth control pills, anxyiolitics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, beta-adrenergic blockers, antivirals, antifungals, anticancer drugs, drugs for angina, antiarrhythmics, calcium channel blockers, anticoagulants, statins, hypoglycemics, antiulcer drugs, skeletal muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, bronchodilators, immunosuppressive medication, oxycodone, and some HIV drugs.

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