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Scientific Name(S): Several species of the genus Tilia produce flowers that are used in traditional herbal medicine. In large part, flowers derived from T. cordata Mill. and T. platyphyllos Scop. are selected for the preparation of teas. Family: Tiliaceae

Common Name(S): Linden, European linden, basswood, lime tree, lime flower.

Botany: Linden trees can grow to heights approaching 100 feet. They are native throughout Europe but also found in the wild or purposely planted in gardens. Linden tree bark is smooth and gray, and its leaves are heartshaped. The five petaled, yellow-white flowers are collected after the spring bloom, dried and preserved under low-moisture conditions. These are the parts used for the drug.

History: Since the Middle Ages, the flowers of the linden tree have been used to promote sweating. In addition, the flowers have been used traditionally as a tranquilizer and to treat headaches, indigestion and diarrhea. Infusions of the flowers make a pleasant-tasting tea. Several sources report the lore that linden flowers were once believed to be so effective in treating epilepsy that one could be cured simply by sitting beneath the tree. Sugar is obtained from the sap of the tree and the seed oil resembles olive oil. In Greek mythology, "Philyra," a nymph, was transformed into a linden tree after begging the gods not to leave her among mortals.

Uses of Linden

Linden has been used to induce sweating for feverish colds and infections and can reduce nasal congestion and relieve throat irritation and cough. It possesses sedative effects and can treat nervous palpitations and high blood pressure. It has also been used in lotions for itchy skin.

Side Effects of Linden

Rarely, frequent use of linden flower teas has been associated with cardiac damage.

Toxicology: There is no evidence to support the belief that old linden flowers may induce narcotic intoxication. Frequent use of linden flower teas has been associated with cardiac damage. This rare event suggests that linden teas should not be ingested by those patients with a history of heart disease.

Many sources list few side effects from linden. However, reports do exist on specific toxicology such as: Contact urticaria, allergy from certain Tilia species' fruit oils in rats, organochlorine pesticide residues in linden-containing beverages and soft wood dust exposure from linden, containing volatile and unsteady substances which are micronucleus-inducing matters in peripheral lymphocytes.

Summary: Tilia flowers have been used for the preparation of teas and medicinally to induce sweating. Linden has been used to treat colds, infections, throat irritation and cough. It also possesses sedative effects and can treat palpitations, headaches and insomnia. Its antispasmodic qualities make linden useful in incontinence and hemorrhage as well. The use of linden flowers has not generally been associated with toxicity, although several authors have raised concerns about the potential for cardiotoxicity following long-term ingestion of the tea.

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