Herbal medicine has been around for centuries, with practitioners recommending hundreds of different plants for many ailments. Linden flowers from any of several species of the linden tree are dried and used to brew a tea with a number of medicinal properties. Their traditional uses include to help treat flu or cough, or to relieve nervous tension and digestive problems. Modern research suggests that linden flower tea might have some significant health benefits.
Linden flowers contain a number of natural compounds, or phytochemicals, that are biologically active and responsible for some it properties. Several of its components are antioxidant chemicals called flavonoids, including one called quercetin. Antioxidants help rid your body of free radicals, unstable chemicals that form in your skin when you're in sunlight or in your organs when you're exposed to environmental toxins. Over time, free radicals can damage cellular membranes and DNA, raising your risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic problems. Quercetin and other linden components called kaempferol and p-coumaric acid are also diaphoretics, chemicals that cause you to sweat, while some volatile oils in the flowers may have sedative, calming properties.
In herbal medicine, linden tea is recommended to combat anxiety and promote relaxation. A study published in the July 2008 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" found that feeding laboratory animals an extract of linden flowers reduced their anxious behavior when placed in a maze, compared to controls. Another study published in the March 2008 issue of the same journal found that linden extract lengthened the sedation time in animals who received sleep-inducing drugs. It also calmed the animals when administered to them by itself, but these potentially significant effects still need confirmation in studies with human subjects.
Colds and Congestion
The ability of some linden compounds to cause sweating may have benefits when you have a cold, cough or fever, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some components of linden flower tea might also help soothe irritated membranes in your mouth or throat that develop during an illness. A study published in the February 2000 issue of "Planta Medica" found that some polysaccharides, or complex sugars, in linden flowers adhere to the type of membrane that lines the mouth and respiratory tract. The authors concluded that linden polysaccharides may soothe these membranes when they become irritated, although this possibility still needs testing in clinical studies.
Making the Tea
Dried linden flowers in loose form or packed in tea bags are generally available at health-food stores. To make tea, steep a tea bag or about 1 teaspoon of dried flowers in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes and drink up to three times daily. Linden flower tea is generally considered safe, although a minimum effective dose hasn't been established, and some people may be allergic to the flowers. Don't use linden tea if you're pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have heart disease. Always check with your health care professional before taking linden flower tea.