When I started herbal school, that first week I developed a big cold sore on my lip. I’d been suffering with them for years and every time I’d get a sore, I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious that I’d stay home until it went away.
But I had just paid for and signed up for this class, I wasn’t going to miss it. And so I show up, and I walk right up to my teacher Maggie, and ask what can I do for this sore? She hands me a bottle of lemon balm tincture and says “take a few dropper-fulls everyday and also put a few drops on the sore itself.”
I’m there in class, putting this dark green tincture on my lips, almost making it more obvious! But by the next day – the sore had completely gone down. And what I really noticed was that the anxiety and the stress I had been holding inside, seemed to dissipate right along with the sore.
That’s because lemon balm is both antiviral and a nervine – it weakens the virus, while strengthening your ability to mange stress.
Ever since then, I’ve gotten much better at noticing stress before it manifests into a cold sore – and I will start taking lemon balm right away.
In this article, I'll show you how to make a Lemon Balm Elixer, which is like a tincture but more delicious! And how to use it to manage cold sores.
Stress & Cold Sores
Cold sores are most often caused by the Herpes Simplex virus type 1. Once you contract it, there is no cure for it (ref), so its important to understand how it shows up in your body so that you can better manage it. The virus lays dormant in the nerve cells – and can become triggered by some form of stimulus:
- It can be environmental: extreme weather changes, sunlight, wind…
- It can be physical: injury to the skin, weakened immune system, fatigue…
- It can be emotional: stress, anxiety…
When you start to notice what triggers your cold sores, and you notice the early symptoms of a cold sore – tingling, itching – you can swoop in with self-care and herbs before the cold sore ever erupts. And if it does, you can support your body to resolve and heal it more quickly.
And Lemon Balm is hands-down my favorite herb for this. As a nervine, and antiviral herb – it hits the virus from all angles – it strengthens your own nervous system, reduces stress and anxiety, it weakens the virus and reduces inflammation. (ref)
This recipe helps you capture those incredible benefits, in a delicious remedy that you can take easily, and use internally and externally.
Lemon Balm Elixer
An elixer is a very traditional form of herbal medicine. Its simply an alcohol based solution, that extracts out the healing constituents of the herbs. The addition of honey gives healing qualities and a sweet taste. What my teacher gave me was a tincture, which is the same thing, but without the honey. I personally find elixers to be more delicious. You can substitute honey for maple syrup.
This Lemon balm Elixer is something you can take anytime you’re feeling a little stressed or anxious. When you notice that something is triggering you and a cold-sore may flare up, start taking your elixer. Or, if you do get a blister, you can apply it directly onto the sore. The alcohol and the honey both help as well, drying out the cold sore and speeding up healing.
- fresh lemon balm (homegrown, or purchase a plant from the nursery)
- 80-100 proof alcohol – vodka, gin or brandy
- Raw honey
- Fill a mason jar with as much lemon balm as you can, packed in tightly
- Cover the herbs with the alcohol, to cover 2 inches.
- Pour out all of the contents into a blender, and blitz for a few seconds to break up the lemon balm. This helps the extraction process.
- Pour it back into the jar.
- Squeeze honey in to taste. An elixer is about 3/4 alcohol to 1/4 honey. But its completely up to your taste preference.
- **My jar was too big, I didn’t have enough lemon balm or alcohol to fill it up. So I transferred it to a smaller jar – so that there is no air gap.
- Place a piece of wax paper over the top and then seal the lid.
- Label your jar
- Allow to sit for 4 weeks to infuse, shaking every time you remember. The more often the better.
- After 4 weeks, strain and store in a dry cool place. Its now ready for you to enjoy. You can take it directly on the tounge, or if you can add it to a glass of water.
Alternate: If you use dried lemon balm, fill a jar 1/2 way with herbs and top off the jar fully with alcohol and honey.
* Shelf life: 6 months – 1 year, no refrigeration needed.
* Dosage: 1-2 tsp 3x per day internally.