Medicinal Trees: Linden
Tilia americana or Tilia Europea or Tilia cordata
Also, Known As:
- American Basswood
- American Linden
- Bast Tree
- Common Lime
- Lime Flowers
- Lime Tree
- Linden Flower
Linden is a tree belonging to different species of the genus Tilia, also known as lime or basswood tree. This herb has been used in European traditional medicine for long to cure an assortment of health conditions. In fact, the majority of the linden products available commercially are obtained from the species T. platyphyllos Scop. and T. cordata Mill. Linden is basically a huge deciduous tree belonging to the plant family Tiliaceae that generally grows more than 100 feet tall. While T. cordata Mill. is generally denoted as the small-leaved European linden, T. platyphyllos Scop. is generally known as the large-leaved linden. The fragrant flowers of this genus have a whitish or yellowish hue and are collected during the summer. They are dried soon after collection in a shady location. It is important to conserve the dried out linden flowers carefully, as even a little amount of humidity is enough to lessen the aromatic attributes as well as the actions of the flowers.
An herbal tea prepared with dried linden flowers has been employed in the form of a diaphoretic (any medication that stimulates sweating) since the later part of the Middle Ages. In fact, the flowers of linden are prescribed for two opposing purposes – as a nervine (a sedative or medication for the nerves) and also in the form of a stimulant. Apart from these, linden flowers are regarded to be very effective in treating indigestion, headaches, diarrhea and hysteria. There was a time when people believed that linden flowers were so useful in treating epilepsy that any individual enduring this medical condition could be cured just by sitting beneath a linden tree.
Linden flowers enclose several flavonoid compounds, especially derivatives of kaempferol and quercetin accompanied by p-coumaric acid. The effectiveness of linden flowers as a diaphoretic is attributed to these compounds. In other words, these compounds enable the flowers to stimulate perspiration. The flowers also enclose an aromatic volatile oil in conjugation with varied amounts of mucilage and tannin.
Findings of a number of researches undertaken with linden flowers have revealed that the comparative quantities of mucilage and tannin are vital to the flavor of the herbal tea prepared with the flowers. The taste of linden flower tea is important, as people require drinking comparatively large quantities of the tea to promote sweating. Linden flowers containing high tannin content (about 2 percent or more) and comparatively less amount of mucilage help to produce an herbal tea that is high in flavor compared to those prepared with flowers containing a lesser amount of tannin and more quantities of mucilage.
It may be noted that mucilage has a propensity to be somewhat bland and this possibly elucidates the reason behind the blooms of T. platyphyllos and T. cordata being preferred as the main source of this herb. These two species of genus Tilia have comparatively more tannin and less amount of mucilage in comparison to the flowers of other species of the genus, for instance, T. tomentosa Moench – commonly known as silver linden. As a result, herbal teas made with the flowers of T. platyphyllos and T. cordata have a superior flavor. Usually, authorities concur that the herbal tea prepared with linden flower not only has a pleasing flavor, but the beverage is also effective as a diaphoretic. It is advisable that if you desire to have the most excellent flavored linden product, you should opt for the flowers of either T. platyphyllos or T. cordata. It might not be very effortless for any individual to depend on the commercially available supplies of the herb that usually fail to ensure the botanical source. It is essential to store the flowers in a light-resistant and sealed container to conserve their utmost aroma.
It has been reported that very frequent use of the herbal tea prepared with blossoms of linden may harm the heart. While this only happens rarely and owing to drinking the beverage in excess, it is advisable that people having known cardiac disorder would be better off by keeping away from using linden flowers. In effect, the flowers of linden are an excellent medication for treating tension and nervousness. At the same time, they also promote sleep (cure insomnia), alleviate restiveness and excitement in children as well as facilitates in unwinding the tensed muscles. Blossoms of linden are also effective for treating a medical condition related to tension, such as headaches, colic, menstrual pain, and cramps.
The bioflavonoids present in linden flowers have soothing properties, which coupled with their favorable actions on the arteries make them an effective medication to lower high blood pressure as well as treat arteriosclerosis (a degenerating disease of the arteries). In addition, the flowers of linden also comfort/ unwind the arteries of the heart, which make them helpful in treating palpitations and coronary heart ailments.
When taken in the form of a hot infusion, linden flowers promote sweating and improve blood circulation to the skin. The flowers of linden are also an effective medication to reduce fevers, especially in children, to clear catarrhal blocking. When ingested along with elder flowers, the blossoms of linden facilitate in treating colds, coughs as well as flu. When taken in the form of an infusion that is either cool or warm, linden flowers have a diuretic action and facilitate in getting rid of excessive fluid accumulation as well as toxic substances from the body by means of urination.
Plant Parts Used:
Flowers, young leaves, inner bark.
Linden possesses diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic and tranquilizing attributes. In effect, linden helps to alleviate tensions as well as headaches, facilitates in soothing the mind and makes thoughts effortless. In addition, it is a good medication for treating anxiety and fright and is specially employed to cure nervous palpitations. Ingestion of preparations using the flowers helps in alleviating colds and flu by lessening nasal blockage and reducing fever. The blossoms of linden are generally taken internally to lower hypertension (high blood pressure), especially when emotional issues are concerned. Linden flowers are also used for a prolonged period to cure elevated systolic blood pressure related to arteriosclerosis. Owing to the emollient (relaxing) properties, in France blossoms of linden are employed to prepare an ointment to cure itching skin.
While the species Tilia cordata is considered to be more potent, T. Americana is also used therapeutically. The dehydrated flowers of this species are gently sweet and muggy and the fruits are rather sweet as well as mucilaginous. The herbal tea prepared with dried linden flower tops has a pleasant flavor owing to the fragrant volatile oils present in the blooms. In effect, several parts of linden, including the leaves, flowers, wood and charcoal (obtained by completely burning the wood) are used therapeutically. Flavonoids (which work as antioxidants), mucilaginous elements (which relax and lessen inflammations) and volatile oils are the main active constituents of linden. In addition, this plant also encloses tannins, which work like astringents.
Precisely speaking, the flowers of linden are used to treat fever, headaches (especially migraine), colds, coughs, contagions, inflammation and hypertension (high blood pressure). In addition, they are also used in the form of anti-spasmodic remedy (lessening spasms of smooth muscles the length of the digestive tract), diuretic (promoting urination) as well as a tranquilizer (sedative). The blooms of this plant are added to baths to alleviate hysteria and brewed in the form of a tea to alleviate irregular heartbeat, indigestion, and vomiting related to anxiety. The leaves of linden are used to induce perspiration to reduce fevers. The wood of linden trees is employed to treat complaints of the liver and gallbladder as well as cellulitis. The log of linden trees is completely burned, pulverized into a powdered form and consumed to cure intestinal complaints. In addition, the powder of the burnt wood of linden is also applied externally to heal the infection, for instance, cellulitis (inflammation of cellular tissues), edema or ulcers of the lower part of the leg.
Linden is indigenous to Europe and is generally found growing in the wild. However, plants of this genus are also grown in a garden as well as the roadsides. White or yellowish flowers of linden are collected during the summer.
It is possible to propagate the species Tilia americana by the grafting and wood cutting methods. In addition, it is also propagated by its seeds. Linden plants have a fast growth when planted in a fertile soil. However, these plants are exposed to the assaults of several insects.
Often it is recommended that Tilia americana is grown as an ornamental tree, especially when you desire a deep shade or a mass of foliage. Generally, linden is planted on the windy side of any orchard with a view to providing protection to the young as well as fragile trees. In North America, this species is grown in regions expanding as far north as Juneau in Alaska.
Both the flowers and foliage of linden are edible. However, most people generally prefer consuming the young leaves of the tree. Linden is also helpful as far as attracting pollinators is concerned. The flowers of linden enable bees to produce a good quality honey having a mild zesty taste.
Linden tree contains flavonoids (especially quercetin and kaempferol), caffeic and other acids, mucilage (about 3%), tannins, volatile oil (0.02-0.1 %), and traces of benzodiazepine-like compounds. The flavonoids perk up the blood circulation.
Medicinal Infusions and Tinctures:
Medicinally, linden is used in the form of an infusion and a tincture. When used in the form of an infusion, the dosage of the herb is 200 ml (8 fluid ounces) taken thrice every day to improve digestion as well as alleviate headaches, stress and common tension. This infusion may also be used in the bath for comfort and soothe the body.
The tincture prepared with linden flowers is used to cure insomnia or sleeplessness. The dosage for treating this condition is taking the tincture between 2.5 ml and 5.0 ml (half to one teaspoon) at bedtime. To treat high blood pressure (hypertension), the tincture should be taken in dosage of 2 ml or 40 drops three times every day.
How Linden Works in the Body:
Flowers of linden possess comforting/ soothing attributes that make the herb very effective in treating conditions of the nervous system. In effect, lime blossom is used for medical conditions that necessitate anti-spasmodic actions, for instance, in the event of enduring tension and stress. Linden is especially useful as a medication to treat insomnia or sleeplessness, as it possesses tranquilizing properties. Linden is a particularly effective remedy for headaches attributed to too much catarrh. Linden is also used to cure high blood pressure (hypertension) in the cardiovascular system and it is known for its ability to facilitate lowering blood cholesterol levels related to arteriosclerosis (a degenerative ailment of the arteries). In addition, this herb is effective in treating indigestion related to nervous tension. Linden also possesses diaphoretic (any medication that induces perspiration) properties that facilitate the body to sweat out toxic substances. The diaphoretic attributes coupled with linden’s anti-catarrhal qualities, make the herb useful in curing colds and flu.
The best and most agreeable method of ingesting linden is in its infusion form. To prepare the infusion, add three dried linden flowers to one cup (250 ml) of hot water and take it with or without adding honey. If you are using the herb to cure nervousness and neurasthenia (neurosis), it is best to take it during the day. On the other hand, linden should be taken at bedtime (night) to facilitate relaxation and promote sleep. A concentrated decoction prepared with linden flowers may be added to the bath to soothe and comfort the body. The decoction is prepared by boiling one ounce (30 g) of dried linden flower heads in eight cups (2 liters) of water, infused and subsequently, strained. Taking a bath with linden decoction helps to soothe the nerves as well as unwind the muscles. Linden is also applied topically in the form of a compress to treat eye contagions. This compress is also applied on the face in the form of a lotion to alleviate dry skin and cure brown spots. To prepare the compress, add one teaspoon (5 g) of the dried flowers to one cup (250 ml) of water.
It may be noted that linden sapwood is known to be among the most excellent aids to drain the gallbladder and also as an effective diuretic. The formulation is prepared by boiling one teaspoon (5 g) of the tree’s bark in one cup (250 ml) of water for some minutes and subsequently macerating it for many hours. For best results, take one cup (250 ml) of the formulation prior to every meal for about 10 to 30 day at a stretch.
An absorbing powder is made by absolutely burning a little piece of properly dried up linden log. When the log has burnt completely, collect the charcoal and pulverize it in a mortar till you make it into a fine powder. People enduring an extremely acidic or nervous stomach may take this powder in a dosage of one tablespoon (15 ml) powder diluted in water during an emergency. In addition, the unadulterated powder may also be applied topically to infected wounds, hemorrhages, and abscesses.