How to Use Amazing Bee Balm
I have a patch of bee balm (Monarda) sitting outside my front door, and I just love it! There are so many benefits of bee balm and ways to use it that I think everyone should have some around. Let’s explore how to use bee balm.
How to Identify Bee Balm
First we have to know what bee balm looks like as there are over 20 different species. Other names are wild bergamot and horsemint. Bee balm is native to North America and grows in dry, sunny locations. The spiky red, pink, purple, or white flowers and the mint/oregano scent attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators so you may see them around the plant.
The plant spreads through rhizomes. Mature plants are one to three feet tall and are easy to spot. The stems are square shaped like other mints. Leaves grow in pairs and are shaped like lancets.
How to Use Bee Balm
Native Americans taught the settlers how to use bee balm medicinally. The most common usage is Oswego tea, which is an infusion made from 2 tablespoons of fresh leaves and flowers or 1 tablespoon of dried steeped for fifteen minutes. Oswego tea helps with digestive issues, respiratory complaints, dental problems, headaches, and fever. Painful menstrual issues and anxiety may also be helped by Oswego tea.
When applied topically, Oswego tea speeds up wound healing and helps heal skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
You can tincture it in alcohol to use for anxiety.
For topical use in headaches, skin problems, or wound healing, you can use fresh flowers and make a poultice. If you are walking outside and get stung by an insect, you can rub fresh leaves on the spot to reduce swelling and help with the pain.
For respiratory issues, bring the flower petals to a low simmer. Create a steam tent by putting a cloth over your head, and inhale the vapors.
To make a bee balm salve, place 1 cup of organic coconut or olive oil into a glass container, like a measuring cup. Add one cup of bee balm flowers. Put the glass container into a pot of water and heat to boiling. Once boiling, reduce heat to a very low simmer. Let steep for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the beeswax and stir to melt. Strain the flowers out using a cheesecloth. Store in tins or glass. You can use salve topically when fresh flowers are not available.
To make bee balm syrup, gather and wash leaves and stems. Tear the leaves and stems into smaller pieces. Measure equal parts of the plant, honey, and vinegar into a glass jar. So, if you have half a cup of the plant material, you’ll use half a cup of honey and vinegar too. Stir the mixture. Put a lid on it. Store it in a dark place for a month. Shake it periodically. Use it for colds, coughs, sore throat, and flu symptoms.
Bee balm is associated with Air and Mercury. You can use it magically for purification, relaxation, business success, money, and communication. You can add it to your bath for help with sleep, relaxation, or to remove stagnant energy. Carry some with you in your wallet to encourage financial success. Rub the leaves on your skin before signing contracts, interviewing for a job, or doing business to encourage good luck.
Bee balm is so useful and easy to work. If you’re just getting started with herbs, I would make this one a foundational plant in your repertoire. It’s really amazing.