Herb of the Month: Lemon Balm

Although the coldest winter you ever spent may have been a summer in San Francisco, for the rest of the Northern Hemisphere we are moving into the warmer season, a time ruled by Pitta, the fire dosha. Pitta types run warmer–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Therefore, Pitta season is the summer season. Especially if you have a lot of Pitta in your constitution, it is important to take measures to cool off as the weather heats up. Lemon balm is a pleasant herb for such purposes. It is delightful to smell and taste and though it’s initial flavor is hot, sweet, and distinctively lemony, it’s overall effect on the body is cooling. It is also mildly calming to the nerves, helps settle the stomach, and can help induce sweating (leading to further cooling off). You can take lemon balm as a tincture, but if you pick the leaves fresh it makes a great tea. You can also used dried leaves for a tea. Lemon balm loves the sun, so if you grow it at home, give it as much direct sunlight as possible (up to 5 hrs. a day). For a refreshing summer tea, combine fresh lemon balm leaves with fresh mint leaves, steep for an hour, and enjoy at room temperature.

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