This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Melissa Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Meliffa bortenfis C. B. MeIyffophyIlum, mellifolium, mel-litis, citrago, citraria, cedronella, apiastrum. Me-lissa officinalis Linn. Balm: a plant with square stalks; and oblong, pointed, dark green, some-what hairy leaves, set in pairs; in the bosoms of which come forth pale reddish labiated flowers, standing several together on one pedicle, with the upper lip roundish, erect, and cloven, and the lower divided into three segments. It is perennial; a native of mountainous places in the southern parts of Europe; and flowers in our gardens in June.
This plant, formerly celebrated for cephalic, cordial, stomachic, uterine, and other virtues, is now; justly ranked among the milder corroborants. It has a pleasant smell, somewhat of the lemon kind, and a weak aromatic taste; of both which it loses a considerable part on being dried; a slight roughishness, which the fresh herb is accompanied with, becoming at the same time more sensible. Infusions of the leaves in water, in colour greenish or reddish brown according to the degree of saturation, smell agreeably of the herb, but discover no great taste, though, on being infpiffated, they leave a considerable quantity of bitterish and somewhat austere extract: the infusions are sometimes drank as tea in chronical disorders proceeding from debility and relaxation, and sometimes acidulated with lemon juice for a diluent in acute diseases. On distil-ling the fresh herb with water, it impregnates the first runnings pretty strongly with its grateful flavour: when large quantities are subjected to the operation at once, there separates, and rises to the surface of the aqueous fluid, a small portion of essential oil, in colour yellowish, of a very fragrant smell, apparently of great medicinal activity, commended by Hoffman as an excellent corroborant of the nervous system. Tinctures of the newly-dried leaves made in rectified spirit, in colour blackish green, discover less of the balm smell than the watery infusions, but have its taste in a greater degree: infpiffated, they leave an extract in somewhat less quantity than that obtained by water, in taste stronger, and which retains a considerable share of the specific smell and flavour of the balm, but is left agreeable than the herb in substance.