Materia Medica - Linden
The sweetly scented flowers of the Linden trees lining city streets and stately European allées attract honeybees, and make a delicious tea that reduces anxiety and fevers, soothes the gut, and improves circulation.
Latin Binomial: Tilia spp.
Common Name(s): American Linden, Littleleaf Linden, Common Lime, Lime Flower, European Linden, Carolina Linden, Carolina Basswood
TCM Name: Duan Hua
Ayurvedic Name: n/a
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family) subspecies Tiliaceae
Physical Description of the Plant:
Linden is a deciduous tree reaching from 40 to 100 feet at maturity, with heart-shaped blue-green leaves and intensely perfumed flowers. The leaves have rounded bases that are asymmetrical on either side of the petiole. Flowers bloom in 5-10 flowered cymes. Each cyme droops from a narrow, leaf-like bract, attached to the bract at a point somewhere between the base and midpoint. The fruit produced is a drupe.
Habitat: Linden trees belong to the Tilia genus. American Linden and Carolina Linden are native to Eastern North America. European Linden (Tilia × europaea) and Large-leaf Linden are native to Europe. Littleleaf linden and Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa) are native to Western Asia and Europe. The common Linden is often used as a street and shade tree. This hybrid is a result of the cross between the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos) and Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata). Some trees are reputed to be over 700 years old.
Harvest and Collection: Harvest flowers when they open, in New England typically in early July.
Parts of the Plant Used: Flowers and bracts.
Qualities: Soothes and relaxes the gut; opens the arteries, reduces hypertension, protects blood vessel walls, reduces cholesterol buildup, increases blood flow to the periphery; reduces fevers, relieves tension and anxiety; clears toxins through the kidneys.
Energetics: Slightly sweet, aromatic, slightly astringent, moist, slightly warm
- Antioxidant flavonoids (astralagin, galactoside, hespiridin, hyperoside, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, quercitrin, rutin, tiliroside )
- Mucilage (in the bract) (arabino-galactans)
- Phenolic acids (caffeic acid)
- Phytosterols (β-sitosterol)
- Quercetin glycosides
- Volatile/essential oil, up to about 0.l% (camphor, carvone, citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool)
- Cholagogue (bark)
- Emolient (bark)
- Vermifuge (root)
Meridians: Lung, Liver. Releases to the Exterior/Clears Wind Heat: colds, fever, no sweating, cough. Moves Qi/Relieves Stagnation/Calms Shen: palpations, insomnia, abdominal cramps, anxiety, shortness of breath. Promotes Urination/Softens Nodules: urinary stones, arteriosclerosis, headaches, skin rashes. Clears Liver Heat/Stops Bleeding: nosebleeds, epistaxis.
Indications: Feverish colds and flu, bronchitis, asthma; nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia, migraines; cystitis, indigestion, heartburn.
Contraindications/Cautions: Excess long-term use could cause heart damage.
Drug Interactions: Linden is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Use with caution if taking blood pressure medications, as it could potentiate their effect.
Tincture: take l-2ml of the tincture three times a day.
Infusion: l teaspoonful of the blossoms in a cup of boiling water; infuse for l0 minutes. Drink three times a day. For a fever, use 2-3 teaspoonfuls.
Combinations: Can be combined with Lemon Balm, Chamomile, and Catnip to soothe nerves and upset stomach. For high blood pressure combine with Hawthorn and European Mistletoe, with Hops for nervous tension and with Elder Flower for colds and flu.
Folklore: According to Greek Mythology, Linden trees were once a nymph named Philyra who gave birth to the centaur Chiron. One of the old Celtic legends states that if you sit under a linden tree you will be cured of epilepsy. In Roman and German folklore the linden tree is considered the “Tree of Lovers," and in Polish folklore the wood is good protection against both the evil eye and lightning. The charcoal from- linden wood was sometimes used externally for wounds and internally for halitosis, spasmodic cough, night sweats, and fever. Linden blossoms have been used as a base for perfumes. Some beekeepers cultivate lindens for honey production.
Flower Essence: Calms emotional turmoil and high anxiety. Useful for those who hold tension in the body and mind, unable to move out of a constricted or contracted state. Softens and opens the emotional body, addressing the fear and pervasive worry present.
Linden flower helps to release emotional blocks and engenders warmth and openness. It increases awareness of our connection to the rest of humanity, relaxes and softens communication between people and strengthens the relationships between loved ones.
Applications: Arterial support, migraine headaches, hypertension and palpitations due to stress, digestive issues. Recent studies show Linden tea helps prevent childhood ear infections.
Linden Flower Honey
Fresh linden flowers
Clean, dry jar with a tight fitting lid
- Loosely fill your jar with freshly harvested linden flowers.
- Cover with honey.
- Check back on your honey after a couple of hours and add more if needed.
- Let the flowers infuse in the honey for at least a couple of days. Turn the jar occasionally to make sure that the flowers stay coated in the honey.
- After a couple of days you can strain the flowers out if you wish or just leave them in the honey and eat them.
- Spread your linden honey on baked goods and toast, use it in tea, or even enjoy by the spoonful!
Acidic polysaccharide complexes from purslane, silver linden and lavender stimulate Peyer's patch immune cells through innate and adaptive mechanisms.
Three polysaccharide complexes (PSCs) were isolated from the aerial parts of common purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.), and the flowers of common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) and silver linden (Tilia tomentosa Moench) by boiling water extraction and ethanol precipitation. The chemical composition and immunomodulating effects of isolated PSCs were characterized. The chemical characterization revealed that the three samples contain mainly pectic polysaccharides. They exhibited ex vivo intestinal immunomodulating activity through the murine Peyer's patch-mediated bone marrow cell proliferation test at 100μg/ml concentration. At the same time, they stimulated ex vivo human blood T-cell populations (CD4+/CD25+ and CD8+/CD25+), phagocytic leukocytes (CD14+ and CD64+ cells) and induced IL-6 production from human white blood cells and Peyer's patch cells. The herbal PSCs stimulated ex vivo ROS production from whole blood phagocytes and showed unspecific in vitro anti-proliferative activity against normal and A549, HeLa and LS180 tumor cells. This is the first report on immunomodulating studies of linden flower pectins and chemical and biological activity characterization of lavender polysaccharides. Our study demonstrates that similarly to purslane, lavender and silver linden herbal materials contain immunomodulating polysaccharides that could be useful for support of compromised immune system.
McIntyre, Anne. The Complete HerbalTutor. London: Octopus Publishing Group, 2010, p.163.