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Bee balm (Monarda didyma and M. fistulosa) is a beautiful garden plant with an affinity for the nervous system. It’s a wonderful herbal ally for lifting the spirits and supporting balanced moods. Read on to discover how to use bee balm for emotional wellness.
Bee Balm and the Nervous System
In my experiences working with bee balm, I’ve found that it has a strong affinity with the nervous system. It’s a member of the mint family, which is particularly known for having nervine actions, so that’s not surprising!
However, among the mint family plants bee balm has a unique sweetness and buttery quality. In TCM, sweetness and oiliness indicate nourishing, building abilities. Coupled with these is a high concentration of aromatic volatile oils. Bee balm’s volatile oil profile seems to be exceptional for promoting mental clarity and emotional balance. These qualities position bee balm as one of our most memorable herbal allies for the nervous system.
Bee balm seems to work deep down in the nervous system. In The Book of Herbal Wisdom and The Earthwise Herbal, herbalist Matthew Wood discusses bee balm’s beneficial actions for people with tinnitus and Meniere’s disease.
Personally, I suspect that monarda may be a nootropic and neuroprotective. However, this is a hunch based on my intuitive understanding of the plant gained through personal use. It reminds me of calamus, which is another potent herbal nootropic. However, it is much less stimulating than calamus.
According to the University of Michigan’s ethnobotany database, bee balm is a sedative herb. I think more specifically it is a nervine relaxant – mildly sedative, but specific where there is physical tension from a state of anxiety.
I find that it’s a good herb to drink as a bedtime tea, but works equally well during the day without causing drowsiness. In my experience, it has a calm, uplifting energy similar to fresh lemon balm. Unlike lemon balm, however, it readily holds fragrance after drying.
Bee Balm for Emotional Wellness
As an herbal support for emotional wellbeing, bee balm excels at gently dispelling negativity and illuminating the beauty around us. It lends clarity and helps bring balance when our passions become an obsession or when we approach life too timidly.
Bee balm can be incorporated into wellness routines as a tea, glycerite, or extract. It’s one of my favorite herbs for keeping the winter blues away or for days when I’m feeling lackluster. It’s not typically available on the market, but it’s easy to grow at home. It even makes a lovely container plant on a patio or porch.
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