Linden Tree

Many people, especially in the U.S.A., are not aware that their neighborhood is surrounded with Linden Tree. This tree can be very useful by making tea out of it, and use it as a cure in case of fever, sore throat, flu etc.

“Sonja what are you doing to the tree?”
“I am just trying to collect some linden flowers so that I can make some tea.”
“Are you crazy? Tea? What if it is poison?
I just smiled. That’s what my friend Angela thought when she saw me collecting linden flowers from a linden tree right by our college.

When I was growing up, my family did not have a heating system in our house. Actually at that time we did not know what a heating system was. I remember that every other month one of us would get sick by catching a cold or fever. Being on tight budget my family could not afford to buy medication all the time, but we always had this special tea to drink in case we got sick, it is called Linden Tea.

One of my favorite hobbies is to walk. During my college years in Iowa I loved to go outside for short walks and enjoy the fresh air. I was really surprised to see that in every neighborhood there were linden trees everywhere. Linden tea is a very popular tea in Europe, the tree itself is mostly known as Tilia Europaea. In the medical language it would be called an herbal medicine. “As we know herbal is one of the oldest forms of medicine known to man. They are normally chosen because of their healing powers with the body. They can be used at home as an ideal medicine for minor sickness or non threatening diseases.” (“Stash Stress Relief Tea with Passion Flowers”)

Linden tree is not native to America, it was first found in Europe, China and Mongolia. “This tree has a great significance for most European countries. According to Greek legends, the linden tree is the symbol of conjugal love, and of the perfect wife; simplicity, innocence, gentle manners. In England native linden tree is one of the tallest and longest-lived trees in all of Europe. In Germany in particular, the linden tree has a deep emblematic power; many German villages have an official town where linden tree is planted in their main squares, some of these trees are as much as 1,000 years old.”

“Geographically linden tree is found almost in every European country and on the North part of United States. This is related to one of linden’s greatest attribute which is cold and hardiness. It tolerates zones 3a to 6a and perhaps even colder. Unfortunately, the tree’s inability to withstand excessive and prolonged heat limits its use in the South.” (“American Nurseryman”) “The tree itself grows up to 100 ft (30m), with smooth gray bark, heart-shaped leaves, and a cluster of pale yellow flowers.” “Linden has a fine, creamy, straight-grained wood, good for carving, turning, and joinery, often used in piano keys. Leaves are four to six inches long and three to four inches wide, lopsided base, sharp-toothed margins and long petioles.”

Linden tree has inspired authors not only with their valuable attributes of healing but also with its appearance. Michael Dosmann in his article about Tilia Mogolica prescribes the tree as “attractive, exfoliating bark; heart-shaped, serrated leaves that emerge reddish, turning deep green by early summer; pale-yellow flowers appear by June, adding quiet interest.” (“American Nurseryman”)

The best time of the year to harvest linden flowers is around June before the summer rains will hit the ground. “When harvest is completed, the yellowish or white fragrant flowers are rapidly dried about three to five days. They must be carefully preserved since even a small amount of moisture reduces their aromatic properties and their activity.”

When the flowers are completely dried you can put them inside jars (tightly closed) and they can be restored in cupboards with room temperature. “When you are ready to make tea, take one tablespoon of dried flowers in a cup of boiling water. Leave it to boil for about eight to ten minutes and then strained.” For best effect drink it hot.

“Since the Middle Ages linden flower has been used as a diaphoretic, drug which promotes perspiration, linden was also recommended as both a nervine (tranquilizer) and stimulant. Linden is a valuable herb in the treatment of headaches, indigestions, hysteria and diarrhea.” “Since the fifteenth century John Gerard (1597) noted that linden, notably the European Tilia, has aroused modest medical interest, at least for the last few hundred years. On eighteenth century author George Motherby (1785) wrote that the flowers have an anodyne and antispasmodic virtue; when fresh they have a moderately strong smell and in this their virtue consists. J.E. Meyer reports that the leaves and the flowers can be used as stomachic, diaphoretics, and to quiet coughs and relieve and hoarseness. A good interest has been shown in United States too. In Alabama is reported that linden can be used for breaking up colds and for lung trouble. Kentucky has reported the use of inner bark for poultices to treat boils, bruises, and carbuncles.”

The University of Maryland Medicine has published an excellent article, about linden tree and its values, on the school’s main website. “Linden has been used in European folk medicine for centuries to treat a wide range of health problems. Linden flowers are added to baths to quell hysteria, and steeped as a tea to relieve anxiety-related indigestion, irregular heartbeat, and vomiting. Today we use linden in many cold and cough remedies. The active ingredients found in linden leaves promote sweating, which is helpful for people who have fever. One of the most used species of linden is Tilia (also known as Tilia Americana). This species of linden has been studied in only few test tube and animal trials. However, a qualified healthcare practitioner may recommend this herb for the treatment of certain conditions. Different parts of Tilia are used in treating specific conditions and symptoms. For example Tilia’s flowers are used for colds, cough, fever, infections, high blood pressure and headache. Tilia’s leaves are used to promote sweating, which is very helpful for fever. Also Tilia’s wood has an important role too, is mainly used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulites. Finally in the studies is mentioned that there are no know scientific reports of interactions between linden tree and conventional medications.” (Herbs, Linden UOMM)

Andrew Chevallier, an experienced and leading figure of herbal medicine, mentions linden flowers as very useful home remedy use for both older and younger ages. On his studies he says linden “relieves tension and sinus, headaches, helping to calm the mind and allowing easy sleep. Linden tea can induce sweating to break a fever. Linden flowers bring relief to colds and flu by reducing nasal congestions and soothing fever. It is also good to lower high blood pressure, particularly when emotional factors are involved. Because of its emollient quality, linden flowers are used in France to make a lotion for itchy skin.”
“It was once thought that linden can be effective in the treatment of epilepsy that a patient could be cured simply by sitting under the tree!

Usually relatively large amounts of linden tea need to be drunk to induce perspiration. Studies have shown that flowers with high tannin (2.0% or greater) and relatively low mucilage content to produce a more tasty tea that those with a lower concentration of tannin and large amount of mucilage.”
Linden tea is not just an old herb found in the old time and used by our great grandparent because the lack of medicine. It is a valuable and affordable home remedy; easy to find and use in the form of the tea to cure headaches, flu, sore throat etc. This herb in now widely available around the world. You can access it through mail order, internet, health food stores, flea markets, and other outlets. Unfortunately in U.S not many people are aware that linden tree can be found even in their neighborhood (of course if you live on the North part). This wide distribution of linden tree adds another attribute to its usefulness as a home remedy; very easy to find and the most important of all linden is a very economical herb. Author Hyams wrote in his book on 1898 “Linden flowers are cephalic, stimulant and sedative. Locally these plants are used quite exclusively as home remedy by the mountain people, and said to be of special advantage in diseases calling for such treatment as they can afford.”

As I mentioned earlier linden tree is not being used only as healing herb. Because of its fine creamy wood many companies are using linden’s trunk for home furniture and piano keys. This factor has limit linden’s attribution in the field of pharmacy and medicine today.

Many doctors have shown on their studies the historical, scientific, and pharmacological usefulness of this tree around the world. This is why linden’s attribute have been greatly appreciated and awarded. “In 1993, Mongolian Linden Tree received an award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, in England. Also recently Jeffries Nursery in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada made an introduction of Tilia Mongolica called “Harvest Gold” which has an excellent prescription of the tree with the golden fall color and flaking bark.” (“American Nurseryman”)

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