Linden

Scientific names: Tilia cordata Mill. and Tilia platyphyllos Scop. Family: Tiliaceae.

Common names: Linden, European linden, basswood, lime tree, lime flower

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Linden?

Linden trees belong to the Tiliaceae family, which consists of nearly 80 species native to Europe and found in northern temperate regions. The 5-petaled, fragrant, yellow to white flowers are collected after spring bloom, dried, and carefully preserved. The flowers are the most valued medicinal components of the linden tree.

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What is it used for?

Linden has been used to induce sweating for feverish colds and infections, to reduce nasal congestion, and relieve throat irritation and cough. Linden has sedative effects and has been used to treat nervous palpitations and high blood pressure. It has also been added as an ingredient in lotions to relieve itchy skin. However, there is limited clinical information to support these uses.

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Since the Middle Ages, the flowers of the linden tree have been used to promote sweating. Traditionally, the flowers have been used to treat flu, cough, migraine, nervous tension, ingestion, various types of spasms, liver and gall bladder disorders, diarrhea, and elevated arterial pressure associated with arteriosclerosis. Infusions of the flowers make a pleasant-tasting tea. Linden flowers were once believed so effective in treating epilepsy that one could be cured simply by sitting beneath the tree. In Greek mythology, “Philyra,” a nymph, was transformed into a linden tree after begging the gods not to leave her among mortals.

What is the recommended dosage?

Linden is available in several dosage forms, but there are no recent clinical studies to support a specific dosage. No more than 2 to 4 grams per day of linden in teas or other preparations for internal use should be consumed.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Although no recent clinical data has been published, the German Commission E monograph concluded that the linden flower is cardiotoxic; therefore, linden should not be consumed by patients with a history of heart disease.

Pregnancy/nursing

Avoid use because of the lack of data.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Reports exist of specific toxicity such as contact urticaria, allergy from Tilia fruit oils in rats, seasonal pollinosis, pesticide residues in linden-containing beverages, and contact dermatitis and rhinoconjunctivitis from exposure to linden wood sawdust in the workplace.

Toxicities

Frequent use of linden flower teas has been associated with heart damage occurring in rare cases.

References

  1. Linden. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2007. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 9, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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