encyclopedia

Linden Flowers

Scientific Names:
Tilia cordata MILL and T. platyphyllos Scop. [Fam. Tiliaceae]

Forms:
Linden flower tea

Traditional Usage:
– Anti-inflammatory

– Breathing Disorders

– Bronchitis

– Catarrh (respiratory mucous)

– Cellular Regeneration

– Chills

– Cleansing

– Colds

– Cough

– Cramps

– Detoxification

– Digestive Disorders

– Diuretic

– Fever

– Flu

– Gargle

– Gastrointestinal Disorders

– Inflammation (Lower Urinary Tract)

– Irrigation Therapy (of urinary tract)

– Sedative

– Sore Throat

Overview:
The flowers of linden trees, Tilia cordata MILL and T. platyphyllos Scop. [Fam. Tiliaceae], otherwise known as lime tree flowers, are used for various medicinal purposes. Linden flowers can be used to make a pleasant tasting tea that is listed in the German Pharmacopoeia as a diaphoretic (an agent used to induce sweating) in the treatment of feverish chills and colds in which a sweat cure is desired. Flavonoids, volatile oil and mucilage components are known as the active ingredients. It is recommended that large amounts of the infusion be drunk as hot as possible to help ‘sweat out’ a fever. Some researchers believe that there is a distinct increase in sweating brought about by the tea but others believe the effect is simply due to drinking large amounts of hot fluid. Linden flowers were also used traditionally in the treatment of catarrh (mucous of the respiratory and digestive tracts) and as a gargle for sore throats and irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Studies have shown that the mucilage of Tilia cordata binds to mucous membranes. The closely related American linden tree, Tilia americana L., was used traditionally for treating nervous headaches, restlessness and painful digestion. First Nation healers used a tea made from the inner bark and flowers of American linden trees for treating lung ailments, heartburn, and digestive problems and also used the tea externally as a poultice to draw out boils. The flowers are elegant in their appearance, having a leafy yellow-green bract partly fused with a flower stalk bearing several delicate flowers. Linden flower tea has a naturally sweet taste and looks very attractive when prepared in a clear glass jug so that the flowers and buds can be enjoyed for their beauty as well.

Active Ingredients:
The flowers of linden contain: More than 1% flavonoids including hyperoside, quercitrin, myricetin galactoside, kaempferol, kaempferol glycosides including astragalin and its 6-p-coumaric acid ester tiliroside), myricetin and quercetin glycosides; approximately 10% mucilage largely comprised of arabino-galactans; proanthocyanidins; caffeic, chlorogenic and p-coumaric acids; up to 0.02% essential oil containing alkanes and monoterpenes including geraniol and eugenol.

Suggested Amount:
Unless otherwise prescribed, 2 grams (a little over one level teaspoon) of cut or powdered linden flowers are taken daily. Boiling water (ca. 150ml) is poured over the linden flowers and after fifteen minutes strained. Linden flower tea is taken 1-2 times per day and the infusion is best drunk as hot as possible during the second half of the day (One Teaspoon = ca. 1.8 grams). Note: It is important to make sure that linden flowers are free of fusarium fungus and associated toxins, fumonisins B1 and B2. Linden flowers are also best obtained from clean areas where heavy metals are not likely to bio-accumulate in the flowers and leaves.

Drug Interactions:
Linden flower tea and other teas rich in polyphenols can inhibit non-haem iron absorption and should be taken separately from iron supplements for maximum absorption of iron.

Contraindications:
None known

Side Effects:
None known

References:

Hurrell RF, Reddy M, Cook JD. 1999. Inhibition of non-haem iron absorption in man by polyphenolic-containing beverages. Br J Nutr. 1999 Apr; 81(4): 289-95.

Martins ML, Martins HM, Bernardo F. 2001. Fumonisins B1 and B2 in black tea and medicinal plants. J Food Prot. 2001 Aug; 64(8): 1268-70.

Schmidgall J, Schnetz E, Hensel A. 2000. Evidence for bioadhesive effects of polysaccharides and polysaccharide-containing herbs in an ex vivo bioadhesion assay on buccal membranes. Planta Med. 2000 Feb; 66(1): 48-53.

Toker G, Aslan M, Yesilada E, Memisoglu M, Ito S. 2001. Comparative evaluation of the flavonoid content in officinal Tiliae flos and Turkish lime species for quality assessment. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2001 Aug; 26(1): 111-21.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Tiliae flos – Lime tree flower. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 496-498.