(Tilia tomentosa, Tilia cordata, T. platyphyllos, T. europea. T. americana)
Aka Lime Blossom, Lime Tree, Basswood, Tilleul
These great trees create shade and spread calm on city streets where I live (in Toronto), and for the longest time, I had no idea of the medicine they offered.
I didn’t even know their name.
This knowledge gap is illustrative of the disconnection that plagues us here in the cities. The medicine we need is so often right beside us, but lacking an introduction, we have no idea. By sharing what I have learned thus far, I am aiming to change this. My hope is that you will be inspired to meet some of your plant neighbors, too, and spread the healing potential by sharing what you have learned with those in your circles.
(with thanks to herbalist Rosalee de la Foret for the alliteration that fits so perfectly)
Parts Used: Flowers (and bracts)
Form of Use: Tea (steep covered to retain medicinal volatile oils), Tincture, Bath
Actions: diaphoretic, antispasmodic, hypotensive, nervine sedative, digestive, demulcent, astringent, pectoral, antioxidant
Indications: cold or ‘flu with fever, nervous tension, nervous headache, high blood pressure (usually in combo with other herbs), insomnia (especially in kids), some types of PMS or painful periods
In France, linden tea a popular drink in the evenings, served in people’s homes as well as at five-star restaurants. The majestic tree it has long been part of the herbal medicine chest in both Europe and North America. And it turns out that Linden (Tilia spp) grows widely on both continents. Linden is a common choice for planting along city streets, and graces many a park.
When Linden blossoms in late June or early July, you can you can find the trees by their sweet scent, as well as by their distinctive lopsided heart-shaped leaf, with flowers attached to what looks like half of a maple key.
With a low-hanging branch, permission, confirmation of identity, and thanks to the tree, you may harvest the flowers for use in your household. I encourage you to expand your tea repertoire and get to know this #backyardmedicine this season! (If Linden doesn’t grow near you, you may purchase it from Mountain Rose Herbs or your local herbalist).
Harvest on a clear day, and spread flowers to dry on a clean screen or sheet, turning daily. Store in a sealable glass jar.
A cup of flowers to uplift you
Preparing and drinking tea is a ritual that many people enjoy. It is not an obligation, or a responsibility. It is a pause, it is nourishment, it is – in some cases – flowers in a cup. And yet, herbal teas – even the gentlest and safest of them, such as linden – can be powerful medicine.
Linden helps to cool and calm
This tree medicine is used to help bring sleep to anxious children (and adults), and to gently lower blood pressure. Linden is also used to decrease fevers during ‘flu. In a study at a Chicago hospital, children on bed rest who received Tilia (along with aspirin, if needed) recovered more quickly, and had fewer cases of ear infections, than children who received antibiotics alone, or antibiotics with Tilia. Note that Aspirin is no longer recommended for children – this study is older.
The herb is a great ally in times of stress. Linden calms the nervous system, soothing the nerves for sleep, relieving a tension headache, or easing an upset stomach. The herb is also known to ease menstrual cramps. Further, it is considered a heart medicine, where it protects the heart through its antioxidant actions and ability to dilate & heal blood vessels.
Bathe in Flowers
For the ultimate in nourishing self-care, treat yourself to a linden blossom bath:
- Place a few cupfuls of linden blossoms in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, tied to keep the herbs from escaping into the bath water. Add to bath and fill with hot water. Steep, enjoy.
- Brew a very strong pot of linden tea, strain, add to bath.
Safe for children, safe in pregnancy & during breast feeding, safe for long term use. Consult your naturopathic physician for information on use with your specific health concerns.
References & Further Reading:
Bruton-Seal, Julie & Seal, Matthew. Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. New York, NY: SkyHorse Publishing. 2009.
Conway, Peter. Tree Medicine: A comprehensive guide to the healing power of over 170 trees. London, UK: Judy Piatkus Publishers Limited. 2001
Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science & Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. 2003.
Mase, Guido. The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter and Tonic Plants. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. 2013.