Bee Balm (Uses & Benefits)
Bee Balm herb is a perennial meaning it comes back every year if propagated and taken care of during the cold weather. It is a part of the mint family which means it should be grown in a pot. It’s edible and medicinal. All above ground parts of the plant are edible and make an amazing potted herb, and also used as a flavoring in cooked foods. The flowers make an attractive edible garnish in salads and makes an awesome tea. Bee Balm herb is noted for its fragrance and attracts bees and hummingbirds. Its one of my favorites as it flowers because I just love to watch the butterflys and bumblebees go right to it in the summer. Bee balm is a source of oil of thyme and the colonist brewed a black tea from it and named it Oswego. The original name is Monarda didyma. The medicinal benefits are no caffeine, the tea proved to be a good a balm for sore throats and headaches. Oil within the leaves was used to treat insect bites and relieve bronchial congestion. Today bee balm continues to be a most useful herb to use in both animals and humans. Like most mints, bee balm has a special affinity towards the digestive tract. Bee balm has excellent antibacterial qualities that make it useful for treating infections.
When Planting – Remove spent flowers to keep plants looking tidy. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line. Divide plants in spring every few years or when you notice the center of the plant dying out.
Teas: Start with three or four fresh bee balm leaves per cup or fill your infuser with about the same amount of dried bee balm leaves. Put the leaves or the tea infuser into a tea cup and pour boiling water over the top (my favorite tea pot). Allow the bee balm tea to steep for 5-10 minutes.
Preparation Methods & Dosage: The fresh or dried leaf, stem and flowers can be made into an alcohol or glycerin tincture. The dried plant can be infused and made into skin and eyewashes, and herb teas.
In the Kitchen: The colorful blossoms have a strong minty flavor and best used sparingly. Separate the petals from the main head to scatter over fruit salads for an edible garnish.