Essential Oil Profile: Melissa

by Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name: Melissa

Latin Binomial: Melissa officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae

Other Common Names: Lemon balm, balm, common balm, bee balm

Production Method: steam-distilled

Countries of Origin: Bulgaria

Typical Constituents: Geranial (12.5-38.3%), Neral (9.7-26.1%), b-Caryophyllene (0.3-19.1%), Citronellal (4.5-13.3%), Germacrene D (0-13.0%), Caryophyllene oxide (0.8-10.0%), Geraniol (1.0-8.1%),                  [E]-b-Ocimene (0-4.9%), Neryl acetate (1.5-4.0%), 6-Methyl-5-hepten-2-ol (0-3.8%), Geranyl acetate (0.7-3.3%), Citronellol + δ-cadinene (0-3.1%), 6-Methyl-5-hepten-2-one (0-2.5%), α-Copaene (0-1.7%), Methyl citronellate (0-1.6%), α-Terpineol (0.1-1.4%), α- Caryophyllene (0-1.4%), Nerol (0.6-1.3%), 1-Octen-3-ol (0-1.3%),

Description of Oil: pale yellow, sweet and lemon like with floral undertones

Description of Plant: A Mediterranean herb that grows to about two feet and has small, serrated, slightly hairy leaves and pink, white or yellowish flowers.

History, Folklore and Myth: Bees are said to have fed honey made from Melissa to the infant Jupiter.  Paracelsus, a famous Swiss medic, called Melissa ‘The Elixer of Life’, no doubt due to it’s calming effect on the heart.

Properties and Uses: antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, febrifuge, hypotensive, nervine, sedative, stomachic, sudorific, tonic  Melissa appears to be one of the strongest antiviral agents available in aromatherapy.

Precautions and Contraindications: possible skin irritation; dilute to 1%

Other Interesting Information: Melissa is the Greek word for honeybee. In it’s complexity, powe,r and gentleness, Melissa essential oil perfectly illustrates how nature time after time works better than one-dimensional synthetic medicines.

References: Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Schnaubelt, Kurt, Ph.D.. Advanced Aromatherapy, The Science of Essential Oil Therapy. Healing Arts Press. 1998

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

Shutes, Jade. Advanced Aromatherapy Certification Program. East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. 2014

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