Ancient Materia Medica – Melissa officinalis – Balm

Dioscorides, De Materia Medica
Περί Μελισσοφύλλοn


  • Melittaina, Melittaion, Meliphyllon, Erythra, Temele
  • the Romans call it Apiastrum, Citrago
  • the Gauls call it Meriseimorion

It is called so because bees feast on the plant.

  • The leaves drunk with wine and as cataplasmare a good remedy against scorpion andspider stings and dog bites.
  • It is also useful as a mouthwash for toothacheand as a clyster for dysentery.
  • The leaves drunk with baking soda help thosewho are tormented by the consumption of(poisonous) mushrooms and against stomach-ache.
  • With salt as a cataplasm they dissipate glands on the throat and cleanse ulcers.
  • They soothe joint pain as a poultice.

De Materi Medica, Book III, chapter 108 (118)

Translation following Berendes, Die Arzneimittellehre des Dioskurides (1902)
Dioscorides, De Materia Medica, Melissa officinalis – Balm. Photo: 10th century manuscript, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.652, fol. 1v.