Latin Name: Tilia cordata
Pharmacopeial Name: Tiliae flos
Other Names: large leafed linden, lime tree flower
Linden is a tall deciduous tree native throughout Europe as far north as 65? in latitude. It is also cultivated in Europe and North America (List and Hrhammer, 1979; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). The material of commerce comes mainly from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and in part from China (BHP, 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). The trees can grow to be as tall as one hundred feet. The two species from which the flower is primarily harvested, Tilia cordata and T. platypus, are referred to as small-leaved linden and large-leaved linden, respectively. These species are preferred because the tannin and mucilage content in their flowers produce more flavorful teas and extracts (Tyler, 1993). Traditionally, linden flowers were used to soothe nerves and to treat conditions associated with anxiety. Flowers were added to baths to quell hysteria, and steeped as a tea to relieve anxiety-related indigestion, heart palpitation, and vomiting (Grieve, 1979). Linden's primary use since the Middle Ages, however, has been as a diaphoretic to promote perspiration (Tyler, 1993).
In Germany, linden flower is official in the German Pharmacopoeia, approved in the Commission E monographs, and the tea form is official in the German Standard License monographs (BAnz, 1998; Bradley, 1992; Braun, et al. 1997; DAB 10, 1991; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). It was also official in the pharmacopeia of the former German Democratic Republic (DAB 7DDR, 1972; List and Hrhammer, 1979; Wagner et al., 1984). It is used as a component of common cold and antitussive preparations and also used in urological and sedative drugs (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). In German pediatric medicine, it is used as a diaphoretic component of an influenza tea for children comprised of linden flower, willow bark, meadow-sweet flower, chamomile flower, and bitter orange peel. It is also a primary component of 'Schweisstreibender Tee' (diaphoretic tea) composed of linden flower, peppermint leaf, meadowsweet flower, and bitter orange (Schilcher, 1997). The pharmacopeia of Switzerland lists a comparable diaphoretic tea composed of linden, elder flower, mint leaves, and jaborandi leaf (List and Hrhammer, 1979; Ph.Helv.VI, 1971).
The approved modern therapeutic applications for linden flower are based on its long history of use in well established systems of traditional and conventional medicine, in vitro pharmacological studies and on its well documented chemical composition.
Pharmacopeial grade linden flower consists of the whole, dried inflorescence of T. cordata Mill., of T. platyphyllos Scop., of T. x vulgaris Hayne, or a mixture of these species. It must have a swelling index of not less than 32. Botanical identity is confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC), macroscopic and microscopic examinations, organoleptic assessment, as well as a UV spectrophotometry test for total flavonoids. Microscopic and organoleptic tests are also used for detection of adulteration by other species (e.g., T. argentea), which is common (DAB 10, 1991; List and Hrhammer, 1979; Ph.Eur.3., 1997; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).Linden should contain not less than 15% water-soluble extractive (BHP, 1990; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). The pharmacopeia of Hungary requires not less than 18% water-soluble extractive (List and Hrhammer, 1979).
Linden flower consists of the dried flower of T. cordata Miller and/or T. platyphyllos Scopoli [Fam. Tiliaceae] and its preparations in effective dosage. The flower contains flavonoids, tannins, and mucilage.
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Linden flower contains 310% mucilage polysaccharides, mainly arabinogalactans and uronic acids; approximately 2% condensed tannins (procyanidin dimers B-2 and B-2); approximately 1% flavonoids, mainly quercetin glycosides (rutin, hyperoside, quercitrin, isoquercitrin) and also kaempferol glycosides (astragalin); phenolic acids (caffeic, p-coumaric, and chlorogenic acids); and 0.020.1% essential oil containing alkanes and monoterpenes (Bradley, 1992; List and Hrhammer, 1979; Newall et al., 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).
The Commission E reported diaphoretic activity.
The British Herbal Compendium reported antispasmodic, diaphoretic, sedative, hypotensive, emollient, and mildly astringent actions (Bradley, 1992). The flavonoids and phenols in the flowers are reportedly diaphoretic in vitro. A substance occurring in linden flower volatile oil, farnesol, demonstrates some sedative and antispasmodic activity on rat duodenum in vitro (Lanza and Steinmetz, 1986). Although it is present only in small amounts in linden extracts, it may be therapeutically active (Taddei et al., 1988). In initial, experimental tests, both hypotensive and vasodilative actions were noted in animals receiving linden flower extract intravenously. Their heart rate increased and cardiac muscle tone relaxed (Bradley, 1992). This effect on the heart has been a matter of some concern. In excess amounts, linden flower is known to be cardiotoxic (Pahlow, 1979; Newall et al., 1996; Tyler, 1993).
The Commission E approved linden flower for colds and cold-related coughs.
The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for upper respiratory catarrh, common colds, irritable coughs, hypertension, and restlessness (Bradley, 1992). The German Standard License for linden flower infusion indicates its use for alleviation of cough irritation due to catarrh of the respiratory tract and for feverish colds for which a sweat treatment is desired (Bradley, 1992; Braun et al., 1997; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).
Use During Pregnancy and Lactation
No restrictions known.
Interactions with Other Drugs
Dosage and Administration
Unless otherwise prescribed: 2-4 g per day of cut herb for teas and other galenical preparations for internal use.
Infusion: Steep 1.8-2.0 g flower in 150 ml boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes, once or twice daily (Braun et al., 1997; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999).
[Note: After 2.5 minutes of steeping, 17% of the available flavonoids are yielded into the tea; after 10 minutes, 19% are released (Meyer-Buchtela, 1999)].
Cold infusion: Soak 1.8-2.0 g flower in 150 ml cold water for 10 to 15 minutes, then bring to a boil before drinking, once or twice daily.
Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml, once or twice daily.
Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml, once or twice daily.
BAnz. See Bundesanzeiger.
Bradley, P.R. (ed.). 1992. British Herbal Compendium, Vol. 1. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association.
Braun, R. et al. 1997. Standardzulassungen f r FertigarzneimittelText and Kommentar. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.
British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP). 1996. Exeter, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association. 122.
. 1990. Bournemouth, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association.
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This material was adapted from The Complete German Commission E MonographsTherapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. M. Blumenthal, W.R. Busse, A. Goldberg, J. Gruenwald, T. Hall, C.W. Riggins, R.S. Rister (eds.) S. Klein and R.S. Rister (trans.). 1998. Austin: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications.
1) The Overview section is new information.
2) Description, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions with Other Drugs, and Dosage sections have been drawn from the original work. Additional information has been added in some or all of these sections, as noted with references.
3) The dosage for equivalent preparations (tea infusion, fluidextract, and tincture) have been provided based on the following example:
- Unless otherwise prescribed: 2 g per day of [powdered, crushed, cut or whole] [plant part]
- Infusion: 2 g in 150 ml of water
- Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml
- Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml
4) The References and Additional Resources sections are new sections. Additional Resources are not cited in the monograph but are included for research purposes.
This monograph, published by the Commission E in 1994, was modified based on new scientific research. It contains more extensive pharmacological and therapeutic information taken directly from the Commission E.
Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Copyright 2000 American Botanical Council
Published by Integrative Medicine Communications
Available from the American Botanical Council.