Basswood, lime flower, lime tree, Tilia cordata, T. platyphyllos

The flowers of the linden tree have been used for diaphoretic effect since the Middle Ages. They have also been used as a tranquilizer, and to treat a variety of ailments. The linden is native throughout Europe; it’s found both in the wild and under cultivation. The tree has smooth gray bark and heart shaped leaves. Five-petaled, yellow-white flowers are collected to be dried and preserved for use.

Linden extract contains flavonoid compounds, including kaempferol and quercetin; p-coumaric, caffeic, and chlorogenic acids; and amino acids. The plant contains 0.02% to 0.1 % volatile oils, including citral, eugenol, and limonene. The ratio of tannins to mucilage polysaccharides contained in various Tilia species accounts for differences in the flavor of teas made from this herb. Quercetin, p-coumaric acid, and kaempferol rnay cause diaphoretic action. Some species of Tilia may posess ligands, which rnay interact with benzodiazepine receptors. This may explain its anxiolytic effect. The extract of the Tilia species has been found to possess antibacterial activity.

Reported uses

Linden is used to induce diaphoresis and to treat various nervous disorders, feverish colds, throat irritation, nasal congestion, infections, cold-related coughs. Linden is also use as an expectorant and antispasmodic.


  • Liquid extract: 2 to 4 ml of 1:1 preparation with 25% alcohol
  • Tea (steep 2 to 4 g in boiling water): taken by mouth once a day
  • Tincture: 1 to 2 ml of 1:5 preparation with 45% alcohol.


Linden is associated with drowsiness and contact skin allergies. Rarely, frequent use of linden flower teas has been associated with cardiac damage. Linden prepared with alcohol may cause a disulfiram-like reaction. Use of linden with alcohol may cause possible additive effects. Concomitant use of linden with a sedative or hypnotic may increase the risk of dizziness and drowsiness.

Patients hypersensitive to linden and those with a history of heart disease shouldn’t use this herb.

Clinical considerations

  • Although no chemical interactions have been reported in clinical studies, consider the herb’s pharmacologic properties and the risk that it will interfere with the intended therapeutic effects of conventional drugs.
  • Some patients may be allergic to linden. If signs or symptoms develop, patient should discontinue herb and consult a health care provider.
  • Caution patient with a history of heart disease not to use linden. Frequent use may damage cardiac tissue.
  • Warn patient to contact a health care provider if he develops a rash or swelling, or has trouble breathing.
  • Warn patient to avoid potentially hazardous activities until full effects of herb are known because it may cause drowsiness.
  • Warn patient not to take herb for worrisome symptoms before seeking appropriate medical evaluation because doing so may delay diagnosis of a potentially serious medical condition.
  • Tell patient to remind prescriber and pharmacist of any herbal or dietary supplement that he’s taking when obtaining a new prescription.
  • Advise patient to consult his health care provider before using an herbal preparation because a treatment with proven efficacy may be available.

Research summary

The concepts behind the use of linden and the claims made regarding its effects haven’t yet been validated scientifically.