Herby Gardens


How to Make a Lemon Balm Tincture

Read time: 5 minutes

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Lemon balm is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family, and it has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. It is widely known for its calming and relaxing properties, making it a popular choice for relieving stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Lemon balm has also been used to alleviate digestive issues, including bloating and gas. It is also known for its antiviral properties and studies show it to be effective in treating cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. One of the best ways to harness the medicinal benefits of lemon balm is by making a tincture.

Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs that have been steeped in alcohol for an extended period of time. They’re a popular way to consume herbal remedies because they’re easy to use and can be stored for several years. Tinctures can be taken on their own or added to drinks or food. They’re also highly concentrated, meaning that a small amount can be very effective.


  • Fresh lemon balm leaves and stems
  • High-proof alcohol (such as vodka or grain alcohol)


  • Glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • Cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer
  • Funnel
  • Amber glass dropper bottle


Step 1: Harvest your lemon balm

Harvest your lemon balm in the morning when the leaves are dry. Pick the leaves and stems and wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. You can use the leaves, stems, and flowers in your tincture.

Lemon balm stems and leaves

Step 2: Prepare your glass jar

Take your glass jar and sterilize it with hot water. Make sure the jar is completely dry before adding the lemon balm.

  1. Wash the jar with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Boil water in a large pot or kettle.
  3. Once the water is boiling, carefully lower the jar into the pot.
  4. Let the jar sit in the boiling water for about 10 minutes to sterilize it.
  5. Use tongs to remove the jar from the boiling water and place it on a clean towel or drying rack.
  6. Let the jar air dry completely or dry it with a clean towel.

Step 3: Add the lemon balm to the jar

Take your clean and dry lemon balm and chop it finely. Add it to the glass jar, filling it about two-thirds full.

Step 4: Add the alcohol

Pour the high-proof alcohol over the lemon balm, making sure to cover it completely. Use a spoon to press the lemon balm down to ensure that it is fully submerged in the alcohol. The ratio of alcohol to lemon balm should be roughly 2:1 (alcohol to lemon balm by volume).

Example: For 1 cup loosely packed chopped lemon balm leaves, you will need about 2 cups of alcohol.

Pouring alcohol into a jar with lemon balm leaves

Step 5: Store the jar in a cool, dark place

Place the jar in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or cupboard. Shake the jar once a day to ensure that the lemon balm is fully infused in the alcohol. Let the tincture sit for about four to six weeks to allow the alcohol to extract the medicinal constituents from the lemon balm.

hand holding jar of fresh lemon balm tincture

Step 6: Strain the tincture

After four to six weeks, strain the tincture using a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer. Squeeze the lemon balm to extract all of the liquid. Use a funnel to transfer the tincture into amber glass dropper bottles. The amber glass will protect the tincture from light and help to preserve its potency.

Step 7: Label and store the tincture

Label the tincture with the date and the name of the herb. Store the tincture in a cool, dark place. A tincture can last for several years if stored properly.

How to Use Lemon Balm Tincture

When it comes to dosages for herbal tinctures, it’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner or herbalist who can help you determine the appropriate dosage based on your individual needs and health status. However, here are some general guidelines for adults using a lemon balm tincture:

  1. For general relaxation and stress relief: Take 2-3 ml (about 40-60 drops) of lemon balm tincture up to three times per day. This can be added to a small amount of water or taken directly under the tongue.

  2. For sleep support: Take 2-3 ml (about 40-60 drops) of lemon balm tincture about 30 minutes before bedtime. This can be added to a small amount of water or taken directly under the tongue.

  3. For digestive support: Take 2-3 ml (about 40-60 drops) of lemon balm tincture before or after meals to support healthy digestion.

This information is general and for educational purposes only. Your personal health and individual needs should be determined by you and your healthcare provider.

Contraindications of Lemon Balm

While lemon balm is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in reasonable amounts, there are a few contraindications to keep in mind:

  1. Hypothyroidism: Lemon balm may interfere with thyroid function and should be avoided by people with hypothyroidism or other thyroid conditions.
  2. Sedative medications: Lemon balm has sedative properties and may enhance the effects of sedative medications, including benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
  3. Glaucoma: Lemon balm may increase intraocular pressure and should be avoided by people with glaucoma.
  4. Pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is not enough research to determine the safety of lemon balm during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid lemon balm or consult with a healthcare professional before using it.
  5. Allergies: Some people may be allergic to lemon balm and may experience symptoms such as itching, rash, or difficulty breathing. If you are allergic to other members of the mint family, you may be more likely to be allergic to lemon balm as well.

Related Posts


1. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third. Penguin Random House; 2016.
2. Easley T, Horne S. The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicicne-Making Guide. North Atlantic Books; 2016.
3. Gladstar R. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. Storey Publishing; 2012.
4. Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NTJ, Perry EK, Wesnes KA. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002;72(4):953-964. doi:10.1016/s0091-3057(02)00777-3
5. Müller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine. 2006;13(6):383-387. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2006.01.013
6. Wood M. The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism. North Atlantic Books; 2004.
7. Lemon balm Information | Mount Sinai – New York. Mount Sinai Health System. Accessed May 12, 2023. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/lemon-balm

Hello and welcome! My name is Kate and I am an herbalist and backyard farmer. If you are a beginner herbalist or just looking for information on plants, I write about gardening, natural remedies, and herbalism.




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