Bee balm, also known as wild bergamot, is a wild perennial native to the United States. It’s a purple and fuzzy flower and it looks sort of like Dr. Seuss may have drawn it. As you may have guessed, bees and other pollinators LOVE it. But maybe a little more surprisingly, it also has many other health benefits for humans. Luckily, we have beaucoup bee balm here at Woodside!
Bee balm is antimicrobial, and like its name suggests it is used medicinally to soothe ailments, just like a topical balm would. It’s been used in the past to treat flu symptoms and fevers as well as to soothe digestive discomfort and abdominal pain. It’s also an antispasmodic so it helps treat persistent coughs, as well as may be taken to help gently calm the nervous system, the way a lemon balm or a mint tea may. Like many things you may find in the garden, it also helps treat stings, burns, and cuts.
Bea balm can be ingested as a tea by collecting the flowers and drying them - 1 tablespoon dried flowers to every 1 cup hot water or 2 tablespoons fresh flowers, if you prefer, to every 1 cup hot water. Bee balm can also be made into a syrup using vinegar, honey, and bee balm flowers. This formula works for many different medicinal herbs and its health effects vary based on the herbs chosen for the syrup. A bee balm syrup is beneficial as a treatment for coughs, colds, and congestion. Using bee balm in conjunction with thyme in an herbal sachet can help act as a decongestant when steamed. Just place dried bee balm and dried thyme into a sachet and add it to your bath. You can get the same effects by placing the sachet in a bowl and filling it with hot water from a kettle. You then place a towel over the bowl and stick your head under the towel, just above the hot water. Inhale the steam deeply into your lungs to help dispel congestion.
Honestly, there are so so SO many ways to enjoy the health benefits of bee balm, but one of the easiest ways to celebrate its medicinal benefits is by adding it to your salad. It not only helps liven up your average salad with just a few petals but it also provides you with a healthy dose of beneficial properties!
Bee balm is just one of the many medicinal herbs we have here at Woodside. See how many you can spot next time you join us at one of our farms stands!