Melissa is a herb that grows in temperate climates. It can be found growing in the wild in the lands around the Mediterranean and southern Europe, but in many countries the plant is cultivated. In Bulgaria, one can encounter it almost everywhere – in forests, thickets, grassy and rocky places.
Melissa is a perennial plant and belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Its leaves resemble those of the mint and their fresh lemon scent is another reason why people often confuse the two herbs. The height of the plant averages between 70-150cm, it blooms in late summer when his little white flowers are full of nectar. This nectar attracts bees, which is actually the cause of the Greek name Melissa, meaning ” bee”.
The herb has many healing properties due to its composition: in its essential oil Melissa contains citrate, citronellol, myrcene, geraniol – all these substances have an antispasmodic effect on the nutritional and respiratory systems. The sedative effects of the herb are due in particular to the citrate. Furthermore, the plant is rich in vitamin C, carotene, organic acids, etc., which have beneficial effects on the human organism with regard to strengthening the immune system.
One of the most popular applications of Melissa is for relieving disorders of the stomach and intestines. The herb also soothes the nervous system, which explains its beneficial effect on sleep problems, neuroses, migraine, dizziness, and more. As a result Melissa tea can be extremely useful for improving concentration and activity at work. Moreover, the tea is used to control nausea in pregnant women, to stimulate appetite, in cases of irregular menstruation, etc.
Melissa leaves, which are used to prepare tea, should be harvested from late spring (late May) to mid- summer (in July) before the plant has blossomed, because otherwise it loses its healing properties.
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