This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
MEDICINAL PART. The herb.
Description. -- Balm is a perennial herb, with upright, branching, four-sided stems, from ten to twnty inches high. The leaves are broadly ovate, acute, and more or less hairy. The flowers are pale yellow, with ascending stamens.
History. -- Balm is a native of France, but naturalized in England and the United States. It grows in fields, along road-sides, and is well known as a garden plant, flowering from May to August. The whole plant is officinal or medicinal, and should be collected previous to flowering. In a fresh state it has a lemon-like odor, which is nearly lost by drying. Its taste is aromatic, faintly astringent, with a degree of persistent bitterness. Boiling water extracts its virtues. Balm contains a bitter extractive substance, a little tannin, gum, and a peculiar volatile oil. A pound of the plant yields about four grains of the oil, which is of a yellowish or reddish-yellow color, very liquid, and possessing the fragrance of the plant in a high degree. The Nepeta Citriodora, a powerful emmenagogue, is sometimes cultivated and employed by mistake for Balm. It has the same odor, but may be distinguished by having both surfaces of the leaves hairy.
Properties and Uses. -- It is moderately stimulant, diaphoretic, and antispasmodic. A warm infusion, drank freely, is very serviceable to produce sweating, or as a diaphoretic in fevers. It is also very useful in painful menstruation, and also to assist the courses of females. When given in fevers, it may be rendered more agreeable by the addition of lemon juice. The infusion may be taken at pleasure.