Gold Balm: a medicinal Bergamot herb

Bergamot is an herb plant. It is considered a herb. You cannot buy this herb in food stores; you’ll have to grow it yourself. That is not a punishment because bergamot is a beautiful and fragrant plant. In this article, Bergamot refers to the herb with the Latin name Monarda didyma. This does well in the shade garden in our cold country, although it will bloom for a slightly shorter period. The bergamot citrus tree does not grow in the Netherlands; this subtropical crop is planted in large numbers in southern Italy. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Drawing of balm / Source: Sydenham Edwards, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Different types of monarda
  • Medicinal use
  • Propagation of golden balm
  • Gold balm as an edible ornamental plant
  • Weeds and balm
  • Eating tips for gold balm
  • Phytonutrients golden balm
  • The healing power of bergamot

 

Different types of monarda

Bergamot herb is a hardy plant with very fragrant leaves and lilac flowers that are irresistible to bees. In English the plant is also called ‘bee balm’. There are a total of 17 species of monarda plants, all of which are called bergamot herb. The best known types are:

Goudbalm / Source: Sten Porse, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Monarda citriodora: lemon monarde or lemon bergamot herb,
  • Monarda menhilofia: mint bergamot herb,
  • Monarde punctata,
  • Monarda fistulosa: bergamot herb,
  • Monarda didyma: gold balm (with earl gray scent).

 

Medicinal use

In winter the plant disappears underground, so to use its medicinal powers after autumn you will have to dry the leaves and flowers. The fresh flowers and leaves are regularly used in fruit smoothies in the US. You can make alternative Earl Gray tea from these parts if you mix it with black tea. A tea made exclusively from the flowers or leaves is called Oswego tea. In combination with butter or cream cheese you can make a bread spread from it. You can make a syrup from the flowers by making very strong tea and boiling cane sugar with it until it thickens. Another way to make syrup is to first let the tea cool and mix it with honey.

Propagation of golden balm

There are several ways to propagate this plant. First of all, you can sow it under glass from March. After 30 days

Purple balm / Source: Karelj, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

the plants will be big enough to plant them in the open ground. The second way is to dig it up when it has retreated into the ground; that will be late fall. You tear apart the healthy root parts and replant them underground. They will emerge next spring. It is advisable to tear out the root parts at least once every two years.

If you have a nose cold or sinus infection, you can take a steam bath with balm balm.

 

Gold balm as an edible ornamental plant

Bergamot is a very decorative plant that can grow from 80 centimeters to one and a half meters in height. The plant has spectacular red flowers that are naturally bright red. Originally this plant mainly occurs in moist forests in the eastern US. Nowadays it is used as an ornamental plant in European gardens. It grows well in the sun, likes a moist soil, and in the absence of a sun garden, can do reasonably well in a shade garden. Like all types of Monarda, golden balm disappears completely into the ground in winter. In addition to the bright red flowers, there are varieties with pink, purple, orange and white flowers. Both the flowers and leaves can be eaten.

Weeds and balm

They start to emerge when winter has just ended: this plant often shoots earlier on existing weeds. Weeds are therefore no problem for this plant. It likes a very humus-rich soil with many nutrients.

Eating tips for gold balm

The leaves of this bergamot plant are edible fresh. You could use them in fresh salads and desserts. The leaves are ideally suited for seasoning a fruit salad. It is also used as a garnish. Gold balm is often used in drinks such as herbal mixes for tea, as a herb that sweetens a punch and in smoothies with, for example, apple or cucumber.

Phytonutrients golden balm

Gold balm mainly contains the polyphenols thymol and carvacrol. It also contains p-cymene, linalyl acetate, limonene, ocimene, alphapinene, camphene and delta3-carene. It also contains many essential oils: the alcohols linalol 40.24, geraniol 54.21, sesquiterpene, germacrene d 1.46, and the organic compound ester in the form of geranyl acetate 1.18. Essential oils are made from the various types of bergamot herb, in particular the Monarda didyma and the Monarda fistulosa, for natural medicine. Both the flowers and the leaves are extracted for this purpose. Both types provide a different scented oil with different medicinal properties.

The healing power of bergamot

White gold balm / Source: Beentree, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Cooking an infusion of boiled flowers has a calming and slightly analgesic effect.
  • The herb reduces the symptoms of colds.
  • Gold balm reduces fever.
  • This pleasantly scented herb can dissolve mucus, open airways and helps against asthma.
  • It has a disinfectant effect; it has a fighting effect on germs in the form of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
  • Gold balm is a natural antidepressant. The flowers in particular are used for this.
  • Gold balm works well for the liver and therefore digestion in general.
  • Gold balm has an antispasmodic effect on muscles and the nervous system.
  • This plant is good for the blood circulation because the permeability of the capillaries is reduced and the blood vessel walls are strengthened.

 

read more

  • The medicinal power of borage or cucumber herb
  • The medicinal power of wild garlic
  • The medicinal power of pollard willow or white willow
  • The healing power of cat’s mustache or kumis kucing
  • The healing power of chamomile
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