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Common names: Lime blossom, lime flower

Botanical name: Tilia spp.


© Martin Wall

Parts used and where grown

This tree grows in the northern, temperate climates of Europe, Asia, and North America. Many medicinal species of linden exist, with Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos generally being the most available and studied. Regardless of species, the flowers are used as medicine. Though sometimes called lime flower, linden is not related to the familiar green lime fruit.

Linden has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns




Common cold

Ear infection

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

Since time immemorial, the fragrant and tasty linden flowers have been used medicinally as a calming agent and to relieve indigestion, the common cold, and griping or colicky pain in the abdomen.1 2 Many of these uses have been confirmed or partially confirmed in modern research.

Active constituents

The major active constituents in linden are flavonoids, glycosides, and possibly a volatile oil. One study found that a complex mixture of compounds, primarily flavonoids, reduced anxiety in mice.3 Although used as a traditional herbal remedy for anxiety, these results have not been confirmed in human clinical trials. Older clinical trials have shown that linden flower tea can help people with mild gallbladder problems (but not gallstones), upset stomach or dyspepsia, and excessive gas that causes the stomach to push up and put pressure on the heart (also known as the gastrocardiac syndrome.)4 5 Linden’s reputed antispasmodic action, particularly in the intestines, has been confirmed in at least one human trial.6

Linden flowers act as a diaphoretic when consumed as a hot tea. Diaphoretics induce a mild fever, thereby possibly helping promote the immune system’s ability to fight infections. The fever usually does not go very high because the diaphoretic also causes sweating, the body’s natural way of lowering its temperature. The German Commission E has approved linden flower for the treatment of colds and cold-related coughs.7

How much is usually taken?

A tea of linden is prepared by adding 2–3 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of dried or fresh flowers to a pint (500 ml) of just boiled water. After steeping the flowers in a covered container for ten to fifteen minutes, sip the tea while it is still hot. During an acute problem, several cups can be taken daily for up to one week.8 For longer term use (three to six months), three cups (750 ml) per day can be used. A tincture or fluid extract of linden, 3/4–1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) three times daily, may alternatively be used.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Statements that overuse of linden can cause heart problems9 lack scientific merit. Both the German Commission E monograph and the American Herbal Products Association’s guide on herbal safety state that linden has no toxic effects.10 11 In fact, linden is considered safe for use in children12 and there are no known reasons to avoid it during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with linden.


1. Wren RC, Williamson EM, Evans FJ. Potter’s New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, UK: Saffron Walden, CW Daniel Co, 1988, 171.

2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 485–6.

3. Viola H, Wolfman C, Levi de Stein M, et al. Isolation of pharmacologically active benzodiazepine receptor ligands from Tilia tomentosa (Tiliaceae). J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:47–53.

4. Fiegel VG, Hohensee F. Experimental and clinical screening of a dry, water extract of tiliae libri. Arzneim Forsch 1963;13:222–5 [in German].

5. Sadek HM. Treatment of hypertonic dyskinesias of Oddi’s sphincter using a wild Tilia suspension. Hospital (Rio J) 1970;77:141–7 [in Portuguese].

6. Langer M. Clinical observations on an antispastic factor extracted from Tiliae silvestris alburnum. Clin Ter 1963;25:438–44 [in Italian].

7. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 163.

8. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1985, 227–8.

9. Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal--A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Philadelphia: George F. Stickley, 1982, 263.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 163.

11. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 116.

12. Bove M. An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1996, 234–5.

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