Melissa officinalis, otherwise known as lemon balm, balm, common, or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the family Lamiaceae (mint, sage, or deadnettle family).
Balm mint leaves serve as a culinary herb in flavoring foods and herbal teas. It a mild lemony scent that closely mimics mint.
Can rabbits eat lemon balm?
Yes. Rabbits can eat lemon balm leaves, stem, or flowers, including all its cultivars like Citronella, Lemonella, Lime, Variegata, Quedlinburger, Aurea, or Quedlinburger Niederliegende in moderation. It is safe, nontoxic. Let your rabbits have a small amount once or twice a week as a treat or snack, and don’t replace it with recommended bunny diets.
However, like other aromatic herbs in family Lamiaceae such as basil, sage, savory, oregano, lavender, thyme, rosemary, mint (Mentha), marjoram, and hyssop or those in other families, Melissa officinalis isn’t much favored by bunnies.
Therefore, your bunny not to eat. While in the wild, rabbits will tend to avoid balm. Don’t force your bunnies if they don’t like it.
Is it good?
Yes, lemon balm is good for your bunnies. Besides having some nutrients, it is high phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid that has potent antimicrobial (antibacterial and antiviral) and antioxidant properties. It also works as a digestive aid and helps relieve gas.
Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and Rise and Shine Rabbitry notes that it may help in rabbits with “bloating and gas, diarrhea, reduce stress” while edelweissranch.com adds that it does increase milk production.
In humans, balm may help relieve stress, reduce anxiety, improve cognitive functions, easy sleep disorders including insomnia, relieve indigestion, treat nausea, ease menstrual cramps, and treat cold sores and so on.
However, before using this herb therapeutically, talk to your vet for proper diagnosis, or get a recommendation. The diagnosis will reveal underlying causes.
Giving it to your bunnies
When giving lemon balm to your bunnies, go for organic one and begin with a small amount to see if it does or doesn’t cause any tummy troubles. Both fresh and dried leaves are safe.
Even if they tend to like it, don’t forget that it is only a treat or snack your bunnies can eat after a few days. Stick to unlimited amounts of the best grassy hay brands, high fiber pellets (5%), 10-15% fresh foods with leafy veggies being the bulk part while treats should be no more than 5% of their food intake.
Besides culinary uses, this herbhelps attract bees and serves and an ornamental plant. Also, lemon balm tea, extract, and essential oil (also used in perfume and toothpaste) have applications in both alternative and traditional medicine. A good example is in aromatherapy (may be co-distilled with citronella oil, lemon oil, and other oil).
Finally, this herb, native to the Mediterranean basin, south and central Europe, central Asia, but shouldn’t be confused with bee balm, which belongs to the genus Monarda. However, it has been naturalized in many places.
More on Melissa officinalis
Additional uses of balm include sleep and digestive aid in alternative medicine, while Australian herbal medicine uses it for GI nervous, liver, and bile issues. Also, it is the main ingredient in Carmelite water found in German pharmaceutical.
Some culinary uses include fruits and candies, fish dishes, ice cream, and it may be used together with spearmint or peppermint.