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|Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies. It can be used in fish dishes and is the key ingredient in lemon balm pesto. It might be a better, healthier preservative than butylated hydroxy anisole in sausages. In the traditional Austrian medicine, M. officinalis leaves have been prescribed for internal (as tea) or external (essential oil) application for the treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, liver, and bile. Lemon balm is the main ingredient of Carmelite Water, which is still for sale in German pharmacies. Lemon balm essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy. The essential oil is commonly codistilled with lemon oil, citronella oil, or other oils.
|In North America, M. officinalis has escaped cultivation and spread into the wild.
Lemon balm seeds require light and at least 20øC (70øF) to germinate. Lemon balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetatively, as well as by seed. In mild temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring. Lemon balm grows vigorously and should not be planted where it will spread into other plantings.
M. officinalis may be the "honey-leaf" (?????????????) mentioned by Theophrastus. It was in the herbal garden of John Gerard, 1596.
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