LINDEN (TILIA. spp.)
Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine
Genus and Species: TILIA spp. (T. cordata Mill., also T. platyphyllos Scop., T. Americana L., T. europaea L., T. europaea L., T. argentea, and T. platypus). Flos Tiliae or Tilide flos (pharmacopeial names)
Plant Family: Tiliaceae
Common Names: Linden Flower, Lime Blossom, Basswood, Linn Tree, White Wood, Duan Shu Hua (TCM)
Parts Used: Flowers and bracts, charcoal (from the wood) leaf, twigs, inner bark
Harvesting Time: Flowers: on a dry day early to midsummer, immediately after flowering, dried in the shade (
Properties or Actions: nervine, diaphoretic, diuretic, demulcent, relaxant, mild astringent, hypertensive antispasmodic,
Taste: sweet, moist, cool
Tissue States: cooling, irritating, atrophy
Energetics: cooling, drying, moistening, relaxing
Degree of Action: 1st, 2nd
Botanical Description (Botany and Ecology)
Linden is native to Europe, T. cordata, T platphyllus, T. europea whereas T. americana is native to the eastern parts of North America, Great Lakes to North Carolina, however, it can be found out West.
Linden is easily grown, a deciduous tree up to 100 feet tall and easily discerned by a grey barked trunk with flat ridges. It prefers full sun as it’s slender, leaf-like bract supports the flowering clusters of fragrant, white or yellowish-green flowers in clustered cymes with veined leaf-lie bracts. King’s Dispensatory, describes the leaves “exhibiting a sweet exudate, having the composition of Mt. Sinai manna.”
Nervine, relaxant, anxiolytic (mild), hypertension, migraines, diaphoretic, diuretic
Linden is a gentle, aromatic, soothing beverage as a stand-alone tea. Although it has a variety of medicinal applications, a full assortment of constituents, it does not get the attention it deserves. It is often overlooked and has little clinical research on its medicinal properties. This monograph will shed light on my dear beloved Linden as to its more common medicinal applications used throughout the ages to present.
During Old England time period, Linden flowers were used for convulsion and epilepsy. “They are universally recommended in epilepsies, and all nervous distempers, and upon that account make a part of the compound piony-water.” (
King’s Dispensatory, (1800’s) summed Linden usage as “a hot infusion employed to check diarrhea from cold, and in the various forms of colds and catarrhal conditions, while, either hot or cold, it may be used in restlessness, nervous headaches, painful and difficult digestion, and mild hysteria.
Native American tribes, Iroquois, Malecite, Menominee, Cherokee, Chippewa, Micmac, Ojibwa, Omaha, Pawnee, Ponca, Potawatome used T. americana as a diarrhea antidote, cough medicine, dermatological aid, gastrointestinal aid, snake bite remedy and tuberculosis remedy. Aside from the medicine, Linden bark was used as fiber, cordage, furniture, canoe material and sewing material.
Today, it appears to be predominantly used as a relaxing, cooling anxiolytic infusion or an add on to subdue unpleasant flavors in both infusions and tinctures.
For someone in need of Linden, a distinguishing indication is to examine the tongue. It will show as “usually red, sometimes flame shaped and usually somewhat moist.” This tongue profile is common for those who experience rising heat mainly due to a lack fluid. Linden, with its moistening properties will soothe this form of dry/ atrophic tissue state.
Nervous System Anxiolytic Support
In the traditional sense, as a nervine, Linden blossoms were used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, irritability and restlessness for both adults and children either from soaking in infused bathwater or as an enema.
Porcher recommended Linden for women in the Confederate States during the Civil War having heard how well received it was in France. Linden flower tea was given to women who were in postpartum confinement (known as “lying-in”), even if there were no medical complications during childbirth, as an antidote for spasms, a soothing agent deemed to calm nervous excitement. .
Linden has retained its respect in terms of its ability to address issues relating to mild depression, anxiety, nervousness and panic attacks. David Winston mentions that Linden is regarded in TCM as “calming the shen” and combines the T. cordata with Passionflower for irritability with insomnia.
A 2008 study from Argentina with mice, examined the bracts of three species of T. americana var. mexicana. The aim was to observe the anxiolytic effects in a plus-maze test using four extracts, F1-F4. It was found that the group receiving F1, a methanol extract, produced a rich flavonoid anxiolytic mixture. The mice spent more time with open arms without any altered motor activity in the open field. F1 constituents were primarily flavonoids, mainly tiliroside (found in the T. americana var. mexicana). The results support the uses of this species as providing anxiolytic effect without affecting motor activity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18539420
Headaches / Migraines
Using Linden relieves headaches, be they tension related, neuralgia, migraines, or dizziness. The mechanism is that Linden creates a relaxing effect for the circulatory system. Combining Linden with Wood Betony relieves tension headaches, whereas Feverfew vasodilates arteries along with relaxing thereby further reducing headache potential. Both Winston and Hoffman use Linden along with Hawthorn and Mistletoe to combat elevated blood pressure with headache occurrence. . It is worthwhile reviewing contraindications of the supporting herb when adding to Linden.
Linden not only works as a mild antihypertensive agent, effective in combination with lifestyle changes: modifying diet, engaging in aerobic exercise, and incorporating relaxation techniques. It also operates as a prophylactic curbing the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. A useful tonic if one experiences stress or even heart palpitations associated with white coat syndrome. T. Easley, however, indicates it to be helpful in particularly when there is “high systolic pressure associated with hardening of the arteries”.
Gastric Irritation: Mucilaginous Properties
As we are aware, nervous tension affects our digestion in a variety of ways. One interesting fact is that the mucilaginous properties of Linden can be extracted when it is left to steep for longer periods of time, anywhere from 1 hour up to two days. Once in its mucilaginous state, Linden can be used to relieve gastric irritation, atrophic gastritis, acid stomach as well as dry constipation. It can also be used as a carminative for gas or nausea. Adding marshmallow or kudzu with a small amount of licorice as a sweetener will increase the mucilage further adding to its medicinal value.
Fever Management: Diaphoretic Properties
Using Linden either as a hot or warm infusion reduces fevers as they pass through febrile phases from onset to resolution by reducing chills and encouraging cooling perspiration. Peripheral vasodilation is the outlet for cooling high fevers. The demulcent aspects of the tea are also soothing to the upper respiratory tract. Mucous membranes are moistened to reduce dry coughs. Linden also reduces histamine production. Other benefits include aiding digestion and supporting the neuromuscular system.
Linden is superb for children during times of feverish colds and flus. Adding a small portion of yarrow and peppermint to a hot infusion increases the diaphoretic properties which reduce irritability, fevers, bring relaxation and promote sleep critical for recovery. During a common cold, adding elderberry, another children’s remedy, shortens the duration of infectious viral conditions.
In Turkey, Silver Linden, T. argentea leaves are used to treat the common cold and bronchitis.
A study conducted in Ankara, Turkey, 2004 used mice were to assess the potency of antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity of 2 main flavonoid glycosides, kaempferol-3 and quercetin 3 isolated from the T. argentea leaves in 50mg/kg doses. Mice underwent a writhing test for antinociceptive activity and hind paw edema to investigate the anti-inflammatory activity. Results showed potent antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities without inducing toxicity or gastric damage. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874104003769?via%3Dihub
I first met Linden by listening to my Father upon rising. He would sit on the bed, light up a cigarette, gaze out the window at the magnificent, broad and far reaching Linden tree contemplating the day that lay before him. At one time he shared that he would recite the first verse of the poem, “Under der linden” (Under the Linden), by Walther von der Vogelweide. http://www.planck.com/rhymedtranslations/vogelweidelinden.htm
Under the lime tree
On the heather
Where we had shared a place of rest
Still you may find there
Flowers crushed and grass down-pressed
Sweetly sang the nightingale
This tea is soothing and calming as well as comforting. Its fragrance is sweet, mellow honeylike. I use it whenever I am need of being enveloped in a warm bear hug, especially in remembrance of my Dad. It brings inner harmony and peace. In particular, the fresh bracts, flowers and leaves make an even more special treat. I find Linden blends well and compliments other herbs. I like it with other cardiovascular or anxiolytic herbs, hawthorn, chamomile or skullcap. As a tincture, I find it drying; a disservice to the delicate flavonoids and volatiles. I invariably received compliments from clients when I prepared Linden teas or combinations. This is the tea that was re-ordered on several occasions.
Phytoconstituents Plant Constituents
Flavonoids and Phenolics: 1%
Anxiolytic: caffeic acid, tiliroside
Antioxidant: Rutin, Hesperidin
Astringent: Tannins (2%)
Demulcent: Polysaccharides (10%)
Mucilage: 3-10% (arabino-galactans)
Volatiles / essential oil: (farnesol, linalool, geraniol, eugenol, camphor, carvone, citral, citronellol, limonene),
Dosage and Preparation
Infusion: 1-2 tsp. dried flowers. 8 oz of boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes. 2- 4 cups per day.
For diaphoretic purposes: use 2 -3 tsp. dried flowers
For mucilage purposes: Steep from an hour up to 2 days
Tincture: 1:5, 45% ETOH: Dosage: 1-2 mls. (20-40 drops) 1-4 times per day
Glycerite: 1:5, 60% Glycerin, 4-5 ml three to four times / day
Cautions and Contradictions
Caution: If the tea has become mucilaginous, it can interfere with absorption of pharmaceutical medications. Separate ingestion of the mucilaginous tea and other medications by 3 hours.
May cause some contact sensitivity. An allergic reaction to linden pollen in a linden flower tea was reported and confirmed by patch testing (De Smet 1993)
Contraindications: No known contradictions or safety concerns
Safe for children above 2 yrs.
Pregnancy and Lactation: No known adverse effects
References: following page