The difference between mint and lemon balm is not obvious to everyone, although experienced gardeners and herb lovers can easily see it. But we still decided to tell you how to distinguish mint from lemon balm and not confuse them anymore.
What is the difference between mint and lemon balm?
Both of these plants belong to the same Yamnotaceae family. Moreover, they gained popularity among the people relatively equally and for a very long time. The first mention of lemon balm can be seen in the ancient Greek writings of Theophrastus. They also wrote about mint that in Ancient Greece it was one of the main medicinal plants of that time.
Speaking about the differences, first of all we note their different popular names. Mint received such “nicknames” as perekop, bezhava, dragolub. Melissa is popularly called lemon balm, lemon grass, mint plant, honey plant or bee plant.
More than ten different types of mint are known botanically, and the most famous of them is peppermint or cold mint. As for lemon balm, one type is known in its culture – lemon.
Why are they confused?
Most of the confusion is caused by the overly suspicious coincidence in the appearance of these herbs, as well as similar notes in the characteristic odor. In addition, it attracts attention that many are accustomed to consider them equally beneficial for the human body.
The existing difference is also erased by the fact that lemon balm is often mistakenly called lemon balm or bee balm, but from a biological point of view, this plant cannot be called mint.
Almost every experienced herbalist clearly knows which properties are inherent in mint and which are inherent in lemon balm, and how they differ.
They are sure: mint is needed to calm and tone the body, and lemon balm will help relax and calm the state of the human nervous system. The main difference is due to their chemical compositions.
Melissa from a chemical point of view consists of the following elements:
- Vitamin complex from A to D;
- Acids: rosemary, caffeic and mineral;
- Iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium and nickel in various dosages.
Melissa is often used in the complex treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, and the female reproductive system. The herb helps get rid of severe headaches, improves sleep and normalizes blood pressure.
Regarding mint, its composition is as follows:
- Vitamins A, B and C;
- Manganese, potassium, magnesium, zinc, sodium.
Taste and smell
Mint also contains a substance that gives mint its characteristic smell and taste, and it is called menthol. In some varieties of mint herb, this substance is replaced by pulegone.
Melissa mostly smells like lemon because it contains a large amount of a substance called citronellal. All varieties of lemon balm differ slightly in taste and smell, since they all smell like citrus in one way or another.
The external data of plants is what confuses people who know little about herbs the most. At the same time, having examined what mint and lemon balm look like in more detail, you will find that the differences between them in appearance are not so small.
In this case, lemon balm is many times more fruitful than mint, since it provides new fruits and seeds every year.
The fruits of the plant look like a kind of round box, which is somewhat similar to an egg due to its slightly oblong shape. Also, lemon balm seeds are usually dark brown in color.
Leaves and stem
Melissa is endowed with characteristic oval or round leaves of a light green hue, which are slightly rough and velvety to the touch. This description does not at all fit the description of smooth mint leaves, which, on the contrary, are bright green and their shape is more pointed.
There is also a difference in the stems. In mint it is more straight, while in lemon balm it is branched to the sides and is divided into several small shoots. In height, the mint stem usually grows to 50-70 centimeters, while the lemon balm bush grows up to one and a half meters in height.
How it blooms
The flowers of both plants are generally indistinguishable. The main difference between mint and lemon balm according to this criterion can be distinguished by the color of the inflorescences.
Melissa buds are collected in a single ring and painted sky blue. In this case, the mint buds are connected by a spikelet, and their color can be called close to purple or lilac.
What is more useful?
It is difficult to single out one of the two plants, which has more significant benefits for the body. Melissa has a greater beneficial effect on internal systems and individual organs, and mint is an excellent helper in the event of external inflammation and emotional distress.
Melissa is most often used in therapy:
- Nervous tension and disorders, prolonged depression;
- dermatological pathologies;
- acute or chronic diarrhea, nausea, flatulence.
Mint as an independent remedy effectively combats:
- numerous inflammations;
- high blood pressure;
- chronic fatigue;
- heartburn, swelling of the epigastric region;
- disruptions in the functioning of the heart and blood vessels.
It is peppermint that is characterized by an active diuretic and anti-inflammatory effect.
Difference in contraindications
Having studied the list of side effects of both herbs that can occur if the permissible dosage is exceeded, one conclusion can be drawn: mint should be used with more caution. Moreover, both plants will be undesirable for those who often suffer from low blood pressure and weakness.
In addition, men should reduce the consumption of mint and lemon balm so as not to encounter significant problems with potency. Otherwise, mint and lemon balm are equally safe if you take them wisely and do not use them indiscriminately.
How are they similar?
You can create a single list of traits that will be common to both herbs:
- They belong to the same Yasnotkov family;
- Actively used in medicine, cosmetics, cooking;
- Do not require serious care when growing;
- Easily and quickly reproduce in various ways;
- A pot or open space in the ground is required for growth.
Where are they used?
If we talk about cooking, then both of these types of herbs are in demand in this area, although in different ways. Mint often serves as a decoration for numerous desserts or drinks, and is also used in mint saucesand syrups.
Melissa is more useful in preparing marinades for meat, fish, vegetables, as well as in making dry spices.
But in cosmetology, lemon balm manifests itself more widely:
- The skin of the face, hands and feet tolerates lemon balm better than mint;
- Often used in the manufacture of hair and scalp products.
In this regard, mint will be useful only in the production of products for the care of excessively oily skin, since it has a good drying effect.
Peppermint extracts are also often added as a menthol flavor to air fresheners, cleaning products, toothpastes and chewing gum.
In other words, lemon balm and mint have firmly entered the life of modern people, since they are actively used in a variety of areas in fresh and dried versions.