I don’t want to bum anyone out, but as we enter the 7th month of this pandemic and the final stretch before this hellish election, I think it’s pretty unanimous: we’re all stressed out. I don’t know a single person who can honestly say that they’re sleeping well, and there are frequent news reports of widespread anxiety and depression, as well as a general increase in drug and alcohol use.

What’s a witch to do but whip up a helpful herbal potion?

Before I share this tutorial, I want to make abundantly clear that I am not a medical professional! As an herbalist, I urge you to consult your doctor about any herbal supplement prior to use to avoid potential negative effects or drug interactions. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s make some herbal magic!

A member of the mint family, Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, is frequently used in herbal medicine to improve mood and cognitive function. Studies have shown the positive anti-anxiety effects of regularly ingesting lemon balm. (And who couldn’t use that right now?) Often administered as a tea or through aromatherapy, the faint citrusy scent and its multitude of uses make it a favorite among many herbalists, but I personally enjoy it best in tincture form.

While not appropriate for use with all herbs, tinctures are both powerful and wonderfully easy to make Simply fill a small glass jar with your herb of choice, cover with a high proof alcohol such as vodka, rum, or cognac. Sealing the jar tightly, store it in a cool, dark place. After 4-6 weeks, strain herbs using cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve into your container of choice—I have glass dropper bottles, but a small mason jar works just as well! —and store once again in a cool, dark place.

Take 5-10 drops daily. I personally prefer diluting my tinctures in a small amount of water, particularly lemon balm as it has a delicious aromatic quality. As with much herbal medicine, consistency matters—an infrequent drop may not have much effect, but a few drops daily can be a powerful herbal ally!

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