Melissa for Herpes Simplex

Jul 27, 05:52 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The tiny flowers of melissa, or lemon balm, yield a miniscule amount of essential oil. The yield is among the lowest in the aromatherapy industry, making melissa one of the costliest oils available, yet it is one of the most potent antivirals and antibacterials in the botanical world.

Melissa (Melissa officinalis) has a very long history of medicinal cultivation, and has traditionally been used as a nerve tonic. It is the primary ingredient in the German folk remedy Klosterfrau Melissengeist, a cure-all tonic that is still popular today. Although Klosterfrau Melissengeist is most often used for anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue and other nervous complaints, researchers who studied the preparation found that it was effective aginst a surprising number of pathogens, including pneumococcus, klebsiella, streptococcus and haemophilus.

Further investigation of melissa has shown that is is remarkably effective against many viruses, especially herpes simplex. This has led to the herb's incorporation in a number of OTC herpes drugs, notably the German Lomaherpan. Melissa's effect is twofold: it is both antiviral and anti-inflammatory to herpes lesions. The aldehydes citral and citronellal, which lend melissa its characteristic lemony odor, are potent anti-inflammatories when present in very low concentrations. Citral is also antiviral against herpes, as are tannic polyphenols present in the herb.

Using a very low dilution of melissa oil during the prodrome stage of a herpes outbreak can significantly lessen the duration of the outbreak, and may prevent it altogether. The dilute essential oil can be applied to existing lesions to quickly dry them up, and it is preferable to use a vegetable oil carrier such as rosehipseed oil to prevent overdrying of the surrounding skin. Other high citral oils such as geranium or litsea can also be used to combat herpes, although I have found that they work best when combined in a synergy with oils such as lavender and tea tree.

Do be aware that true melissa oil is hard to come by, as the cost and chemical composition make adulteration a simple and tempting alternative. Aromaceuticals carries true melissa from the largest organic grower/distiller in Europe.

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