Common Name: Melissa
Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae
Origin: South of France, Germany, Italy and Spain
Synonyms: Melissa officinalis
Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics
Melissa oil is a pale-yellow or pale-amber coloured, mobile liquid with an intensely fresh and sweet citrus and herbaceous odour.
Origin and History
Melissa is a sweet-centred perennial herb which grows up to 0.9m high with serrated leaves and tiny white or pink flowers. Melissa is distilled in the South of France, Germany and in Italy and Spain. However, the total production of genuine Melissa oil is only a fraction of the quantity commercially offered. Melissa oil enjoys the reputation of being one of the most frequently adulterated essential oils.
The name is from the Greek word signifying bee, and the word balm is an abbreviation of the term balsam.
The herb was highly esteemed by Paracelsus, who believed it could completely revivify a man. Herbalist John Evelyn wrote of melissa:
"Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthens the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy"
A spirit of Balm, made by combining lemon peel, nutmeg, angelica root and other herbs and spices, enjoyed a great reputation under the name of Carmelite water. This was considered beneficial for the treatment of nervous affections.
Method of Extraction
Melissa oil is steam-distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of Melissa officinalis.
Precautions During Use (Contraindications)
Melissa essential oil is non-toxic. However , care must be taken as the oil is a possible sensitiser and dermal irritant. Care must also be taken as this is one of the most frequently adulterated essential oils.
Melissa essential oil is uplifting, revitalizing and harmonising. It has a soothing effect on the emotions. It is also uplifting to the spirits and is known for optimising healthy digestion and clearing the head. It has a fresh, sweet, lemony aroma.
Melissa essential oil blends well with geranium, lavender, lemon, grapefruit, orange, mandarin and lime
Source: Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003, ISBN 0-6464-2896-9.