What is Linden Tea?
Linden tea is far from the most famous herbal tea but it does possess a wide range of medicinal benefits from indigestion to anxiety.
If you would like to know more about this herbal tea and what it can do for your health, then read on.
Like so many herbal remedies, linden has been used for centuries in traditional European medicine to treat a very wide range of medical complaints. It is an herb which comes from the Tilia species of tree also known as lime tree or basswood.
Historically, the flowers were taken from two species of linden – Tilia platypyllos and Tilia cordota have been used to calm the nerves and to treat a range of emotional issues usually related to anxiety and stress.
The flowers have also been steeped to make a calming tea which was also used to treat nausea, vomiting, palpitations, and colds.
These days, linden is still used as an ingredient in various commercial cough remedies. There is no great body of evidence to support these uses of the herb but it is believed that linden contains certain chemical constituents that can promote sweating and treat fevers.
The Tilia trees grow in the temperate climates of the Northern hemisphere. They are a long – living desiduous species that grow up to a height of 30 meters. Specimens have been found that are over a thousand years of age. Although there are some 80 species of Tilia tree overall, most herbal remedies are made from two particular linden species. Tilia cordota also known as winter linden and Tilia platyphyllos which has larger leaves and blooms in early summer.
The fragrance of the herb is sweet and rich and can vary depending on which species it derives from. When they are dried, the flowers tend to be sticky and only mildly sweet while the fruit of the trees is a little slimy.
Linden flowers make for a very fragrant and appetizing tea. Unlike many herbal teas that tend to be on the bitter side, linden tea has a very pleasant taste that most people enjoy due in the main to the aromatic, volatile oils present in the flowers.
Some Facts About Linden
- Linden tea is made from the flowers of two members of the Tilia genus of tree.
- There are over 30 linden species native to North America. The species is also found in parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
- Linden trees grow in a symmetrical pattern making them an attractive ornamental choice for parks.
- Linden has a very long life span and usually live several hundred years. Some specimens have even lived over a thousand years.
- Linden trees reach up to 40 meters in height.
- The flowers are used to make tinctures and herbal teas which have various health properties.
- Linden tea is pleasant to drink because of the volatile oils present in the flowers.
- As well as the flowers, the leaves and wood and a charcoal made from the wood are used medicinally.
- The active ingredient in linden flowers includes antioxidant flavonoids, volatile oils, and tannins.
Several parts of the plant are used for therapeutic purposes. The flowers which are the most valued part of the plant, the leaves, the wood and charcoal made from the wood can all be put to great use. The active ingredients include antioxidant flavonoids, mucilage compounds which can soothe inflammation and volatile oils.
Linden also has tannins which have astringent properties. Linden flower also possesses several compounds namely kaempferol and quercetin which give it diaphoretic abilities.
Medicinal Benefits of Linden Tea
For Coughs and other Cold Symptoms
Because of its diaphoretic qualities, linden has traditionally been used and continues to be used to help deal with colds and influenza especially feverish colds. It can help stimulate the sweating necessary to ease the symptoms of fever. Linden tea is also used to reduce congestion in the nasal passage and to ease respiration. It is also used to help reduce coughing and to soothe irritation in the throat.
In modern day Germany, linden is included as an ingredient with several other herbs to make a tea used for treating the flu for both children and adults. Why it is so effective remains unclear but it is believed that the volatile oil, flavonoids and mucilage compounds in the herb contribute to its effectiveness for these conditions.
Herbal teas, in general, are a wonderful way to soothe the nerves. Many have calming properties that can take the edge of your anxiety and help you achieve a good night of sleep. While linden tea may not have the same level of fame as some of the other soothing teas like chamomile, it can help some people to feel more relaxed and makes for a delicious calming bedtime beverage.
It is unclear why linden tea works for anxiety but many feel it is down to the volatile oils and various chemical compounds in the herb. Like most herbal remedies, there is no guarantee that it will work for you but we feel that it is worth a try especially if you are suffering from milder feelings of anxiety and stress or insomnia.
Linden tea has traditionally been used to help treat fevers and feverish colds. Linden possesses diaphoretic properties meaning that it can be used to induce sweating which is especially useful if you are trying to get a fever to break. An acid present in the herb called P-coumaric acid is believed to be responsible for this action as well as the kaempferol and quercetin.
Not only does it help you overcome a fever, but the sweating that it promotes also helps you to detoxify the body. It can help release the build-up of toxins from the system as well as excess fats, salt, and water.
Several studies have shown that linden extracts have antibacterial activities against various infectious organisms. One study detected that linden had anti-fungal activities (1) while another study demonstrated that it may have inhibitory actions against certain food borne pathogens. (2)
Just like so many plants and herbs, linden contains a valuable supply of antioxidants that can help protect the body from a range of illnesses.
Linden possesses two well-studied antioxidant compounds called kaempferol and quercetin which help protect against and reverse damage caused by free radicals. Kaempferol and quercetin are important antioxidants that are found in “SIRT foods”.
They also perform an invaluable anti-aging function and can even help your complexion appear younger and less prone to age marks like wrinkles.
Linden tea is also believed to have strong anti-inflammatory powers which make it useful for both internal and external types of inflammation. Drinking linden tea on a regular basis can help soothe the pain associated with arthritis and rheumatism and may even help ease inflammation in your respiratory system.
According to in vitro studies, linden tea possesses antispasmodic abilities making it useful which backs up one of the traditional uses of the herb. As with many of the other medicinal benefits of the herb, its effectiveness is believed to be linked to the flavonoid and P-coumaric acid content. These antispasmodic actions make it useful in treating stomach cramps, bloating and gas among other conditions.
Linden tea has excellent anti-spasmodic properties that can relax the muscles and even ease the painful cramping suffered by so many people during their periods. Not only can linden tea ease period pains but it may also help women counter some of the other symptoms of menstruation like mood swings, anxiety, and hormonal fluctuations. If you suffer from bad period pains, then it may be worth giving linden tea a go. It certainly will not do any harm and you may be impressed with the results.
Drinking linden tea as part of a good overall nutritional diet can have a positive impact on your overall health in a variety of ways. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can protect against and reduce damaging inflammation in the arteries and blood vessels. Its antioxidant properties can also protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of disease.
These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions may help reduce blood pressure and protect against blood clots. Ultimately, they may reduce the risk of serious heart diseases like atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. The same properties can also protect against various other illnesses caused by inflammation and free radical damage.
Note however that some of the compounds found in linden tea may be linked to heart damage. The German Commission E has stated that the frequent consumption of linden tea could prove damaging to the heart.
How to Use Linden Tea
Linden tea is available in several different dosage amounts and forms. Unfortunately, the data regarding the safe and most effective dosage is lacking.
However, experts suggest that daily doses should not exceed between 2 and 4 grams whether in the form of tea or any other preparation.
How Does it Taste?
Despite its alternative name – lime flower, linden Tastes absolutely nothing like that bitter little citrus fruit. It actually has a very sweet and strong flavor and rich aroma. You may be happy enough to drink it up on its own but many people add a little honey to taste.
How To Make Linden Tea
If you are impressed with its potential, then you may like to brew up some of your own linden tea at home. Like any other herbal tea, it is very simple to make so long as you have a few ingredients. All you need are some dried linden flowers and hot water. Depending on where you live, you should be able to find the dried flowers at a health shop.
What you will need
- a teaspoon of dry linden flowers or 2 teaspoons of the fresh flower
- a cup of filtered water
- a teaspoon of good quality honey to taste
- Bring your water to the boil in a suitable pot.
- Add your dried or fresh linden flowers.
- Continue to boil for a minute or so then remove from the heat.
- Allow the tea to steep for at least 10 minutes to ensure all the goodness is extracted.
- Strain and add the honey if you need it.
- Drink up and enjoy.
Precautions and Contraindications
- While there is no very recently published data, the Commission E in Germany has stated that the linden flower may be toxic. According to the commission, the frequent consumption of linden tea may be linked to heart damage.
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid using linden tea owing to insufficient data on its effects.
- Experiments on animals suggest that linden tea may prove toxic because of the presence of pesticide residues.
- There are no documented interactions with other medications.
Linden tea may not be among the most popular herbal teas but it contains a number of compounds with medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. While there is little medical research into its specific benefits, it is a popular remedy for colds, coughs, fevers and muscle cramps.
Have you ever tried linden tea to treat a physical or emotional issue and what did you think of its effects?
(1) A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd ed. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002:323-324.
(2) Gonul S, Karapinar M. Inhibitory effect of linden flower ( Tilia flower) on the growth of foodborne pathogens. Food Microbiol . 1987;4:97-100.