Herbal medicine from the beautiful and fragrant linden tree (Tilia cordata) is a powerful way to soothe your nervous system, heal your gut, and support your heart. That’s a lot, but linden has even more to offer.
Join me in this episode for a deep dive into linden tree medicine. I also share my favorite recipe so you can enjoy medicinal linden flower tea benefits. My handsome French husband and I drink this tea all summer long and I know you’re going to love it!
After listening in, you’ll know:
► What kind of person most benefits from linden flower tea benefits as a digestive aid
► The juxtaposition of qualities that makes linden such a unique ally for irritated, inflamed mucus membranes
► An herb that makes a wonderful, synergistic partner for linden to support cardiovascular health
► What species of linden has especially aromatic and sweet flowers
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Several years ago, I spent a month in France visiting my husband’s family. Like most herbalists on vacation, I viewed this trip as a great opportunity to see lots of new and different plants. We traveled all over France, staying with friends and family, and everyone very generously took us to medieval herb gardens and other botanical sanctuaries.
One “herb” we didn’t have to go searching for was the linden tree. These beautiful and aromatic trees are everywhere in France. Tilia cordata trees line the streets of Paris, drape across the boardwalks at lakes in the alps, and shade the castles in the south.
Walking through the villages of France, I quickly learned that you can often smell the sweet scent of a linden tree before you find it with your eyes. More than once my nose caught the perfume of linden and we were off to find the culprit.
Linden goes by many names, including lime tree, basswood, and of course it’s botanical name, Tilia cordata, as well as other Tilia species.
Linden is a plant that offers many gifts and I especially love linden flower tea benefits. It’s delicious, it is gentle enough for children and the elderly, yet it also has been employed for a number of serious acute problems.
As French herbalist Maurice Mességué says, “Lime [linden] is one of the ingredients of my own special ‘tea of happiness’ that will bring you peaceful nights, joyful awakenings and happy days, if you will take it regularly.
Health Secrets of Plants and Herbs, 1975
Do you have experience with linden flower tea benefits? Do you have Tilia cordata growing near you, or another species? I’d love to hear about it in the comments at the end of this page. Your comments mean a lot to me! I love cultivating a community of kind-hearted plant-loving folks! Plus, it’s always interesting and insightful to hear the experiences of plant lovers out there. Your suggestion may also help others!
Okay, let’s dive in..
Linden’s cooling, relaxing, and moistening qualities are a soothing relief for a variety of symptoms associated with heat, excess stimulation, and dryness. Linden’s gifts are often appreciated by those who are feeling overly stressed, tense, and hot.
A red face, sweaty palms, reactive high blood pressure, and/or anxiety associated with nervousness are all indications for linden tree medicine and are a perfect indication for linden flower tea benefits - more on that in just a moment.
As a relaxing nervine, linden soothes and calms the nervous system. It can be specific for anxiety that is accompanied by tension: tense shoulders, muscle cramping, tension headaches, painful menstrual cramps, etc. I also think of linden for people who have difficulty sleeping due to excessive tension.
Do you have a restless child who isn’t interested in bedtime? Take herbalist David Hoffman’s advice for a bedtime bath ritual that includes linden and red clover (Trifolium pratense).
Linden has long been used to nourish and support the heart, especially for people with hypertension. As a relaxing nervine, linden can release tense musculature and relieve acute stress. We know how it feels to walk around with our shoulders tense to our ears, feeling jumpy and on edge. That alone can raise blood pressure! Linden is ideally suited to relieving this tense condition.
Linden tree medicine is regularly paired with hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) leaves, flowers, and berries. This is a combination that is nourishing and supportive to general heart health, but also specifically indicated for hypertension and inflammation of the cardiovascular system.
By the way, if you’re concerned with chronic inflammation and the many ways this can show up in our bodies, like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, and more, then you’ll definitely want to check out my free training: How to Use Herbs to Transform Your Health to get More Energy & Vitality – Without Expensive Supplements or a Restrictive Elimination Diet.
Linden is both demulcent and astringent, making it a perfect remedy for excessive dryness. The demulcent qualities add moisture to the body, while the astringent qualities tighten and tone tissues, helping to keep moisture within the tissues. You know that feeling of being parched. This often happens in the throat but can also be an issue in the sinuses. Basically what’s happening is that your mucous membranes, which prefer to be moist, are all dried out. Linden excels in protecting mucous membrane health in dry and hot weather or in people who tend to be dry and hot.
You can also reach for linden tree medicine for dry and irritated rashes. Besides taking it internally as a tea, it can also be applied externally as a poultice or used as a bath herb. Maurice Mességué, the French herbalist whom I mentioned earlier, practiced a tradition of herbal bathing. He recommended it for any type of skin inflammation such as burns, boils, or abscesses.1
Linden flower tea benefits include being a favorite summertime drink. It is cooling and moistening, quenching thirst while also having a sweet aromatic taste. I’ll share my recipe for this in just a moment.
As an aromatic herb that is also anti-spasmodic, linden can be used for indigestion or even stagnant digestion. It is especially useful for high-strung, Type A people – with a red face, hot skin, and a boisterous demeanor – who have trouble digesting foods due to excitement or stress/tension.
Linden flower tea benefits are also often overlooked for diarrhea. As a mild astringent, it tightens and tones lax tissues (which accompany excessive diarrhea), while linden's mucilaginous qualities soothe and coat inflamed mucous membranes and its antispasmodic qualities relieve cramping.
Linden bark is commonly used in France to stimulate the liver and gallbladder to promote bile and help better digest fats.2
Linden is a helpful herb for many symptoms of respiratory illness. As a relaxing nervine and vasodilator, it both releases muscle tension and increases circulation to the skin, helping to move heat out of the body. It’s specific when someone feels hot and is also experiencing tension and restlessness.
Linden’s polysaccharides have been shown to modulate immune system function, which is often helpful at the beginning of a cold or flu. One study reported that the polysaccharide content of linden “could be useful for support of a compromised immune system”.3
Linden flower tree benefits are also used for relieving congestion in the lungs such as bronchitis, coughing, congestion, etc. Think of its soothing mucilaginous textures for sore and irritated throats, especially as an infused honey.
Linden leaves and flowers, especially those of Tilia cordata, can be pounded into a flour that can be mixed with other flours (such as wheat) to make baked goods. This was commonly done in Europe during World War II when food was scarce.
The young leaves can also be eaten fresh and make a great addition to salad greens and sandwich fillings, as well as being a favorite cooked green of foragers around the world.
There are many trees in the Tilia genus and many are used similarly. Tilia americana and T. cordata are commonly found in North America. T. cordata and T. x europaea are often found in Europe.
My friend and fellow herbalist Christophe Bernard says T. x europaea is one of the rare times a hybrid is commonly used as medicine because its flowers are especially aromatic and sweet.
Lindens are a slow growing deciduous tree. Some species can grow up to 130 feet and can be hundreds of years old, but typical trees are usually about 65 feet tall.
species are native to practically all northern latitudes and they are
often frequently planted as ornamentals and street trees.
The alternate leaves are shaped like a heart and have serrated edges.
Linden flowers are white to yellowish and they grow in cymes or clusters that hang beneath a bract that is shaped like a tongue depressor.
When in bloom their sweet scent permeates the air.
Before I show you my recipe for Linden Flower Tea Benefits, let’s go over safety.
Luckily, linden is considered generally safe for most people. Occasionally some people are stimulated by linden instead of relaxed. There have also been rare cases of contact dermatitis.
Linden tree medicine makes a wonderfully refreshing tea which can be made in a variety of ways.
As simple tea: You can simply steep one teaspoon of the flowers and bracts in a mug for 15 minutes. Be sure to cover it while steeping. This is a pleasant and slightly mucilaginous tea. Linden can be a comforting warm cup of tea during illness or to support after-dinner digestion.
My favorite way to make tea with linden really showcases linden’s flower tea benefits. As I said, we drink A LOT of this in the summer because it’s so cooling and refreshing.
Don’t miss out on your free printable recipe card for Linden Flower Tea Benefits just above this transcript!
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Okay, you’ve lasted to the very end of the show which means you get a gold star and this herbal tidbit…
Linden trees are often found growing in urban centers. One study in Paris, France, found that linden trees do not significantly uptake pollutants found in the soil.4
So, while you always want to take soil health into consideration, this study shows that linden harvest from urban areas may be safe.
Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Healand co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.