bee balm tincture

Bee Balm Tincture: Benefits and Easy Preparation

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Every year, the wild bee balm on my homestead bursts into bloom, attracting pollinators and providing a delicious and health supporting ingredient for tea blends and tinctures. Here, I’ll guide you through the simple steps to make a potent bee balm tincture, perfect for easing cold and flu symptoms like sinus congestion and sore throats or to aid digestion and tame troubles like bloating, diarrhea, and gas. 

bee balm tea - bee balm tincture
Bee balm on my homestead

What is Bee Balm?

Bee balm (Monarda sp.) is a perennial plant native to North America, cherished for its unique, spiky flowers that come in shades of white, pink, deep red, and purple. I have Monarda fistulosa which is often called wild bergamot because its aroma resembles that of bergamot orange. Bee balm is also a favorite among gardeners where its ornamental beauty is matched by its appeal to pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

bee balm tea - bee balm tincture
Monarda fistulosa foraged for bee balm tincture

Benefits of Bee Balm

As a bioregional herbalist, I appreciate bee balm for much more than its visual charm. This plant has a rich history of use by Native American tribes, who utilized it for various medicinal purposes. Today, herbalists value bee balm for its many beneficial properties, making it a staple in natural health practices. Here are some of its believed benefits for health and wellness:
  • Antiseptic and Antibacterial: Great for soothing minor wounds and infections.
  • Carminative: Is thought to aid digestion and soothes bloating and cramps.
  • Antifungal: May help combat fungal infections.
  • Calming Effects: May relieve symptoms of colds and flu, such as sore throats, fevers, and coughs.
  • Respiratory Aid: May ease respiratory issues.
bee balm tea
Drying bee balm for tea and spice

Other Uses for Bee Balm

Bee balm is also versatile in the kitchen, adding a subtle hint of mint and oregano to foods and beverages. Its leaves and flowers can be dried and used as a spice or included in aromatic herbal tea blends, providing a soothing and therapeutic experience.

In essence, bee balm is not only a plant of incredible beauty but also a powerful tool in the natural health toolkit, capable of boosting health and well-being. With its wide range of applications, it truly embodies the spirit of bioregional herbalism, encouraging us to look to our own backyards and immediate environment for health solutions.

bee balm tincture

Crafting the Bee Balm tincture

This bee balm tincture makes use of bee balm’s natural properties, providing soothing support during cold and flu season. On my homestead, where bee balm flourishes, I find this tincture especially comforting in the colder months.

Making a bee balm tincture is simple once you have a few key materials. Whether you’re using fresh or dried bee balm, the process is straightforward, though the proportions will differ slightly. Here’s what you’ll need:


    • Fresh or dried bee balm leaves and flowers
    • High-proof alcohol like vodka (or any other palatable alcohol that’s at least 80 proof/40 percent).



Harvest your bee balm when the flowers are in full bloom, typically in mid to late summer, to capture the peak of their medicinal properties. If you’re using fresh bee balm, pick the leaves and flowers in the morning, once the dew has dried, but before the sun gets too high. This timing ensures the plant’s oils are at their best. 

Preparing Your Bee Balm

Whether you’re using freshly picked leaves and flowers or dried ones, ensure they are clean and free from pests. If fresh, gently rinse and pat dry before roughly chopping or bruising them to release their oils.

Making the Tincture

  1. Fill your glass jar:
    • Two-thirds full of fresh bee balm
    • Half full of dried bee balm
  2. Pour alcohol over the bee balm until the jar is nearly full, ensuring all plant material is submerged to prevent mold growth.
  3. Seal the jar tightly and shake well to mix the herbs and alcohol.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, shaking it every few days. Let it steep for 4-6 weeks—the longer it sits, the stronger your tincture will be.

Straining and Storing the Tincture

Once steeped, strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Funnel the strained liquid into amber dropper bottles, label them with the date and contents, and store in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, your tincture can last for several years.

Using Your Bee Balm Tincture

For easing discomfort from sinus congestion, sore throats, and other symptoms, a common practice is to take 1 to 2 droppers full, 1 to 4 times daily as needed. However, for personalized advice tailored to your specific needs, consulting a clinical herbalist is recommended.

Bee balm comes in many forms, from the common red varieties found in gardens to the wild pink types that grow in natural settings across the country. This recipe works with any edible Monarda species, making it versatile for whatever type you may have on hand.

herbal medicine

Where to Purchase High Quality Herbs

If you don’t have access to local or homegrown herbs, I highly recommend purchasing them from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products. As a company they believe in people, plants, and planet over profit and only ever source their herbs ethically and sustainably. It is through this ethical, responsible sourcing, that they are able to offer one of the largest selections of certified organic herbs, spices, and botanicals in North America.


Making your own bee balm tincture is not only simple, but also a deeply satisfying way to connect with nature and take control of your health. If you’re curious about the science behind herbal formulations and want to delve deeper into creating effective remedies, consider enrolling in the Mastering Herbal Formulations course offered by the Herbal Academy.

I hope this guide inspires you to explore the wonderful benefits of bee balm and perhaps even start your own batch of bee balm tincture.

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The Outdoor Apothecary website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure proper plant identification and usage.

Please be aware that some plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for verification of nutritional information, health benefits, and any potential risks associated with edible and medicinal plants mentioned on this website.

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