Melissa. U. S. 1890. Melissa. Balm.—Under this name were formerly recognized by the U. S. P. the leaves and tops of Melissa officinalis L. (Fam. Labiatae), or the ordinary balm of Southern Europe, which has become naturalized in this country. Balm contains some tannic acid, and a yellowish, highly flavored essential oil which, however, is present in such small quantities that the plant has practically no remedial value. The allied Satureja Calamintha (L.) Scheele, var. Sylvatica Brig., is said to contain sufficient aromatic volatile oil to be of possible commercial interest.
Under the name of oil of lemon balm or oil of balm the essential oil of melissa has been used as a diaphoretic in doses of from one to three minims (0.06 to 0.2 mil). This oil is a yellow liquid with a specific gravity of 0.9 to 0.925. Its most important constituent is citral.