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Parts Used & Where Grown
This tree grows in the northern, temperate climates of Europe, Asia, and North America. Many medicinal species of linden exist, with Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos generally being the most available and studied. Regardless of species, the flowers are used as medicine. Though sometimes called lime flower, linden is not related to the familiar green lime fruit.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Several cups of tea per day, made with 2 to 3 tsp of dried flowers per cup of hot water, for indigestion
Linden has a long tradition of use for indigestion. It has antispasmodic action and may help people who suffer from upset stomach or excessive gas.
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.3
Linden has a long tradition of use for indigestion. Older clinical trials have shown that linden flower tea can help people who suffer from upset stomach or from excessive gas that causes the stomach to push up and put pressure on the heart (also known as the gastrocardiac syndrome.)4 , 5 The reputed antispasmodic action of linden, particularly in the intestines, has been confirmed in at least one human trial.6 Linden tea is prepared by steeping 2–3 tsp of flowers in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Several cups per day are recommended.
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Linden is one of a group of “nerve tonic” (nervine) herbs used in traditional herbal medicine for people with anxiety, with few reports of toxicity.
Common Cold and Sore Throat
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Linden may promote a healthy fever and the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
Boneset is another immune stimulant and diaphoretic that helps fight off minor viral infections, such as the common cold. In addition, linden and hyssop may promote a healthy fever and the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Yarrow is another diaphoretic that has been used for relief of sore throats, though it has not yet been researched for this purpose.
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An unpublished clinical trial found that linden tea was effective at speeding recovery and reducing complications such as ear infection in children with colds.
An unpublished clinical trial of children with colds found that linden tea, aspirin, and bed rest were more effective than antibiotics at speeding recovery and reducing complications such as ear infection.7 (Aspirin is no longer given to children due to the threat of Reye’s syndrome.) However, no research has yet confirmed the use of linden for preventing ear infections.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
How It Works
How It Works
The major active constituents in linden are flavonoids, glycosides, and possibly a volatile oil. One study found that a complex mixture of compounds, primarily flavonoids, reduced anxiety in mice.8 Although used as a traditional herbal remedy for anxiety, these results have not been confirmed in human clinical trials. Older clinical trials have shown that linden flower tea can help people with mild gallbladder problems (but not gallstones), upset stomach or dyspepsia, and excessive gas that causes the stomach to push up and put pressure on the heart (also known as the gastrocardiac syndrome.)9 , 10 Linden’s reputed antispasmodic action, particularly in the intestines, has been confirmed in at least one human trial.11
Linden flowers act as a diaphoretic when consumed as a hot tea. Diaphoretics induce a mild fever, thereby possibly helping promote the immune system’s ability to fight infections. The fever usually does not go very high because the diaphoretic also causes sweating, the body’s natural way of lowering its temperature. The German Commission E has approved linden flower for the treatment of colds and cold-related coughs.12
How to Use It
A tea of linden is prepared by adding 2–3 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of dried or fresh flowers to a pint (500 ml) of just boiled water. After steeping the flowers in a covered container for ten to fifteen minutes, sip the tea while it is still hot. During an acute problem, several cups can be taken daily for up to one week.13 For longer term use (three to six months), three cups (750 ml) per day can be used. A tincture or fluid extract of linden, 3/4–1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) three times daily, may alternatively be used.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Statements that overuse of linden can cause heart problems14 lack scientific merit. Both the German Commission E monograph and the American Herbal Products Association’s guide on herbal safety state that linden has no toxic effects.15 , 16 In fact, linden is considered safe for use in children17 and there are no known reasons to avoid it during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
1. Wren RC, Williamson EM, Evans FJ. Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, UK: Saffron Walden, CW Daniel Co, 1988, 171.
2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 485-6.
3. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303-19.
4. Fiegel VG, Hohensee F. Experimental and clinical screening of a dry, water extract of tiliae libri. Arzneim Forsch 1963;13:222-5 [in German].
5. Sadek HM. Treatment of hypertonic dyskinesias of Oddi's sphincter using a wild Tilia suspension. Hospital (Rio J) 1970;77:141-7 [in Portuguese].
6. Langer M. Clinical observations on an antispastic factor extracted from Tiliae silvestris alburnum. Clin Ter 1963;25:438-44 [in Italian].
7. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1985, 227-8.
8. Viola H, Wolfman C, Levi de Stein M, et al. Isolation of pharmacologically active benzodiazepine receptor ligands from Tilia tomentosa (Tiliaceae). J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:47-53.
9. Fiegel VG, Hohensee F. Experimental and clinical screening of a dry, water extract of tiliae libri. Arzneim Forsch 1963;13:222-5 [in German].
10. Sadek HM. Treatment of hypertonic dyskinesias of Oddi's sphincter using a wild Tilia suspension. Hospital (Rio J) 1970;77:141-7 [in Portuguese].
11. Langer M. Clinical observations on an antispastic factor extracted from Tiliae silvestris alburnum. Clin Ter 1963;25:438-44 [in Italian].
12. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 163.
13. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1985, 227-8.
14. Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal--A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Philadelphia: George F. Stickley, 1982, 263.
15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 163.
16. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Product Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 116.
17. Bove M. An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1996, 234-5.
Last Review: 10-21-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.