Bee balm (Monarda), also known as bergamot or Horse balm, is a plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. The plant’s flowers and leaves are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in supplements and herbal teas.
The herb contains antioxidant, analgesic, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Its main components include carvacrol, hymol, and, rosmarinic acids (containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities).
Bee balm is used to boost digestion, making natural fragrant, preparing herbal shampoo, improve skin health, and as a facial mask. The flowers of bee balm can be used to garnish cakes, vegetable salads, and fruit salads. The plant’s dry leaves can be used for tea and as a substitute for mint.
Benefits and Uses of Bee Balm
Bee balm is both beautiful and beneficial; the pleasant taste and properties of the herb have made it one of the most valuable herbs of all time. Apart from its medicinal and culinary uses, bee balm is also used for other purposes.
Let’s take a look at some of these uses.
Acts as Natural Fragrant
People spend lots of money getting home fragrance products that smell really nice. Unfortunately, most of these products are packed with unhealthy chemicals and toxins. To avoid the toxic air and go the healthy route, you can create your own scent with bee balm. Develop your own custom aroma by simply burning the fresh stalks of bee balm along with fresh mugwort stalks and fresh yarrow stalks.
You can use two stalks of each herb to get the right proportions. Roll these stalks inside a newspaper, secure the bundle with rubber bands, and sun-dry them for some days. Ignite the end of the bundle after unwrapping and tying it with cotton strings. Your DIY natural fragrance will fill the room in no time.
Aids in Digestion
When your digestive system isn’t working at its optimum, you can suffer health issues such as constipation, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, bloating, weight gain, asthma, diarrhea, fatigue, and eczema. However, to reverse these health issues without drugs, you can consider drinking some bee balm tea. The tea is a powerful remedy for indigestion.
To make this herbal tea, add some chopped bee balm leaves in a cup of hot water. It is then to be infused until cool enough to drink. To boost its taste, you can add some lemon and honey to bee balm tea.
Promotes Skin Health
Sometimes, we get bitten by insects and develop itchy rashes on our skin. Having itchy and irritated skin is no fun, but bee balm tea is a strong after-bite remedy to try. The tea, after being cooled, can be applied as a skin wash to treat damaged and inflamed skin.
Bee balm tea relieves not just itchy skin caused by bug bites, but also alleviates skin issues such as eczema, rashes, and poison ivy.
Used as Facial Mask
The skin is the largest organ in the body. This means that factors like how we manage stress, what we eat, our daily exercise regime—all could impact skin health. In addition, the skin products we use may contain chemicals that adversely affect our skin, especially our face. Luckily, it is possible to find natural and safe skin products that are toxin-free. For your natural facial mask, bee balm contains tannins which soothe skin redness and irritation on the face.
To make the bee balm facial mask, mix 2 tablespoons of finely-ground bee balm leaves, ½ cup of ground oats as well as ¼ a cup of honey and aloe vera gel. Stir this mixture until you achieve a rich paste.
Serves as Herbal Shampoo
Are you tired of the sulfates-filled shampoos and considering their organic alternative? Bee balm shampoo is your best—it soothes a sensitive scalp, increases hair volume, and strengthens damaged hair. The combinations of bee balm’s antifungal and antibacterial properties make the shampoo an amazing hair wash.
The natural shampoo may not be sold over the counters but you can make it right in your kitchen. You only need to add some drops of the bee balm extract to any herbal shampoo.
Other Uses of Bee Balm
Bee balm is also effective as relief for colic and for treating colds and fevers. The herb can also be used to add fragrance to soaps. Bee balm is also used to treat infections as it contains antibacterial properties. In addition, the flowers of bee balm are used in the kitchen to add a minty aroma to salads and cakes. To do this, flower petals have to be scattered over salads.
How to Preserve Bee Balm
- Once your bee balm ready for harvest, pluck out a bundle of stems, including its flowers and leaves. Sun-dry the bundle for several days.
- After drying the bee balm thoroughly, crush the leaves and flowers. Pour the powder into a jar and add some vodka and brandy to the jar.
- Cover the jar tightly and allow the herb soak in the alcohol for about a month.
- At the end of a month, sieve out the herb and bottle the extract.
How to Grow Bee Balm
Bee balm will definitely add some beauty to your garden. But importantly, it contains amazing benefits and uses.
To grow and care for bee balm, do the following:
- Make sure your chosen location is sunny and has rich soil.
- Ensure the soil is moist.
- Remove spent flowers frequently to boost flower production.
- Apply a multi-purpose fertilizer to the bee balm plant.
- Bee balm is prone to powdery mildew which appears to leave a cloud of powdery dust on the leaves. You can treat this mildew with a fungicide spray.
- To prevent mildew, allow your bee balm plant to enjoy enough air. Also, avoid watering the plant from the top.
Side Effects of Bee Balm
While the benefits and uses of bee balm significantly outweigh its side effects, it is important to take some precautions when using the herb. Luckily, the herb rarely presents serious side effects.
- Some of these adverse effects include stinging, warmth, burning, and redness of the skin. If any of these effects persist or get worse, contact your doctor or herb expert immediately.
- You should, however, stop using bee balm and consult with your doctor the moment you experience serious side effects like ringing in the ears, severe redness and abnormal pain at the spot applied on, blistering, inflamed skin, difficulty in breathing, rash, dizziness, and vomiting.
- People suffering from nasal polyps, asthma, and irritated skin should avoid the use of bee balm.
- For the first two trimesters of pregnancy, bee balm should be used with caution. However, during the last trimester, bee balm is not recommended at all as it may cause harm to the unborn baby and affect childbirth.
- Breastfeeding mothers should steer clear of bee balm or consult their doctor before using the herb. This is because it is not clear whether this herb passes into breast milk.
- Bee balm may not be safe for children who are not up to 12 years of age. You should ask for a doctor’s advice and read the label of bee balm supplements carefully before using on children between 2 and 12 years old.
As with other herbal teas and supplements, it is important to check with your doctor first before using bee balm.