Common Balm, or Melissa officinalis, L. is an exotic plant, though much cultivated by our gardeners, on account of its pleasant aromatic smell, resembling that of the lemon, and its fragrant, though roughish taste. It grows wild in the southern parts of Europe, and flowers with us in the months of June and July. See Woodvilles Med. But. pl. 147.
Formerly, the balm was held in very high estimation : Paeac SUS, HOFFMAN, and BoKERHAAVE, Probably biassed by the opinions of the Arabian physicians, believed to find in it a medicine of uncommon efficacy; nay, the first of these with his fanatical followers, supposed it to possess virtue-., by which human life could be prolonged beyond the usual period, and they vainly promised themselves a complete renovation of man. Jn modern times, however the properties of this agreeable plant are better understood : it yields, by distillation, a small proportion of an essential oil, of a yellowish colour, and a very grateful smell. A few drops of this oil, diluted in a glass of simple water: or strong infusions of the young shoots, drank as tea, and continued for several weeks, or months, have proved of service to nervous and hypochondriacal patients, of a lax and debilitated habit.—Either of these liquid preparations, when slightly acidu-lated with lemon juice, acquit line reddish colour, and may be taken with advantage in dry, parching fevers, as well as in cases of distressingflatulency, attended with erucfation-', where the first 'passages have previously been opened.
Reddish Bastard-Balm or Melittis melissopkyllum, L. is an indigenous plant, growing wild in the West of England, in woods and about hedges ; it produces purple, reddish, arid spotted flowers from May to July. See WITHERING, 530, and Curtis, pL. 0".
Purple and White Balm, or Melittis grandiflora,. another cies of the balm, likewise indigenous to this country;and flowering in May : it is delineated in English Botany, t. 636; and in CURt. Lond.fasc 6. t. 39.
We have mentioned both these native plants, not on account of their diuretic properties, for which they were once celebrated, bat the former, as affording line aromatic flowers, which are eagerly visited by bees; and the latter, as being a line ornament to a flower-garden.