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Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) the Medicinal Garden

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Having Bee Balm brings flashes of color to the garden where ever it is planted, especially if you plant the bright red and pink cultivars. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people that ask what this beauty is when it's in bloom. What is more amazing is the look on their faces when I tell them a bit of the history that Monarda didyma carries with it.

Description

 A green perennial and a member of the mint family. It has square stems and has a citrus like fragrance.

 Leaves are opposite, dark green, ovate, toothed margins and are 3 to 6" long.

 Fruit are four nutlets that resemble seeds.
 

Flowering

 Flowers are produced from July to August.
 Bright red, clustered whorls on top of erect stem that grow in two or more tiers. The flowerhead rests on a collar of red tinted bracts.
 

Range

 Native to North America from Maine south to Georgia and west to Michigan and Ontario.
 

Habitat

 Grows in moist soils of thickets, woodlands, and stream banks. 
 

History

 Native Americans made bee balm tea for pleasure and for medicinal purposes.
 A popular drink among the colonists during the period of the Boston Tea Party to replace black tea.
 In the mid 1700s Bee Balm was sent to England and it is now grown all over Europe and is generally called "Golden Melissa" or "Indian Nettle"
 

Uses Today

 Herbalists recommend Bee Balm for coughs and sore throats.
 Used to calm nerves and promote sleep and is often combined with herbs such as Valerian and Chamomile for this purpose
 Used in aromatherapy in bathwater for a soothing bath.
 Herbalists suggest it's use for nausea, flatulence, as well as menstrual cramps.
 Modern scientists have discovered that it's oil contains thymol, which is an antiseptic against fungi, bacteria and some parasites. Today this chemical is produced synthetically.
 The citrus taste and fragrance often makes it popular as a culinary herb to add to salads or poutry recipes, or for potpourris.
 

Source: Various sources including University of Maryland Medical Center, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 23 Feb. 2013, and WebMD

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand historical and medicinal uses of this plant. In no way are we suggesting or telling readers to use this plant as mentioned above.

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