Medicine Chest

the annoying feeling that is the start of a cold sore

Cold sores are not fun! Painful blister that form on the borders of the lips caused by a virus. Now a cold sore protocol is a little more complicated than simply applying a cream as there are a number of factors that may trigger a cold sore occurrence.

Recurrences are common and triggered by:

  • Sun/Wind
  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Hormones & “that time of the month”

However when you do feel that tingle coming on, you can try a topical treatment of Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).

There are a number of reports demonstrating the anti-viral activity for the topical use of Lemon balm. In most studies, the Lemon balm was applied up to four times a day for five to ten days and showed a shortening of healing time, prevention of spread, and provided local relief to symptoms such as intensity of burn, itching, tingling and swelling size.

Lemon balm tincture (Dry Plant Tincture)

A tincture is a liquid preparation produced by macerating plant material in a mixture of alcohol and water at room temperature, which is then filtered to yield a fluid whereby the active constituents of the herb have dissolved. In simple terms, a concentrated liquid containing all the ‘good bits’ from the herb to make it worthy for use therapeutically.


  • Scales
  • Dried lemon balm
  • Alcohol (96% strength, usually available in chemists)
  • Water
  • Jar with a waterproof lid
  • Muslin cloth (try lincraft)
  • Bowl


1. Using scales measure dried lemon balm

Dried lemon balm
Dried lemon balm

2. Calculate menstruum (depending on strength- see calculations below)

3. Pour menstruum into jar and seal tight

4. Macerate in a cool, shady spot for 4-8 weeks, shaking everyday

5.  After 4-8 weeks, check for golden colour with lemon scent

6. Strain with muslin cloth and wring

Lemon balm
Strain with muslin cloth and wring

7. Set strained fluid aside- your tincture is ready to be used


Menstruum is defined as the solvent, usually made up of alcohol and water.

For a dried plant tincture 1:5 means 1 part plant, and 5 parts menstruum. So if you have 50g of herb you will need 250ml of menstruum (alcohol and water).

The concentration of your tincture will dictate the proportion of the alcohol and water. The concentration (% of alcohol) depends on the herb (as constituents are extracted at different concentrations). Lemon balm requires a concentration of approximately 40-65%.


  • Total menstruum x (desired percentage/percentage of ethanol) = proportion of alcohol (ml)

  • Total menstuum – proportion of alcohol = proportion of water

For example, I have 50g of dried lemon balm, and want to make a 1:5, 60% dried plant tincture.

  • 250 x 60/96 = 156ml alcohol (rounded to nearest)
  • 250-156= 95ml water


Apply Lemon balm tincture with cotton bud to cold sore 4-5 times daily. Make sure you use a cotton bud to prevent spread of infection.

It would also be a good idea to boost your immune system with some lovely herbs such as Echinacea, Andrographis and Astragalus

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