November 23, 2014

Linden Flowers and the Cough Kicker Tea {Fresh from the Cabinet}

Plants. They are all around us. They provide us beauty, fresh air, and a lot of natural remedies for every day issues. I have really enjoyed diving into the world of herbal remedies and discovering new and exciting ways to use the many herbs and flowers that grow on our earth.  One of the plants that I have had fun exploring recently is the Linden tree--also known as the common lime or basswood-- a native tree to most of the middle and eastern United States. Known throughout folk medicine for its fever reducing properties as well as a long list of other health benefits, the flowers (also called lime blossoms) from this tree  are a valuable everyday remedy for any home.
Learn more about Linden flowers and Cough Kicker Tea

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Let me start with a HUGE disclaimer: I am not a botanist. I am not a medical provider. I am not an herbalist. I am {just} Doctor Mom with an unquenchable thirst for trying to find ways to keep my family healthy, without relying on many of the side effect filled over-the-counter drugs being used to treat everyday problems. As always, please use common sense and wisdom. Consult your health care professional before undertaking the advice shared here, to best assess your individual needs, symptoms and treatment. This information is intended to just provide you ideas about more natural ways you could deal with everyday issues in your health and home. I have included all sources that I have studied for this article at the bottom of this blog post for further reference.

Linden Tree--aka common lime---aka basswood


linden flowers
The Linden tree (also known as the common lime or basswood) is a native species to a most of the eastern United States. It is a deciduous tree with soft, green, heart shaped leaves and clusters of tiny drooping lemon colored flowers. The flowers show up starting about June and will give way to a small velvety green fruit during the fall. These flowers are very pleasing (and strong!) to smell and bees love them. The flowers (also called lime blossoms) hang down from the tree in clusters. 

The tree is said to be able to grow up to 130 feet tall and can live up to 500 years. It has dull gray bark when young, which browns up slightly as it matures.

I asked Love-Of-My-Life about them...he knows them by their name Basswood, but says he only knows of one in the area at his uncles property--there aren't as many around here any more, though they are native to this area (Kentucky).

The tree is very pleasing to the eye and is used in decorative landscaping (and as a shade tree) frequently. It's wood--more familiarly called basswood--is used in making models and for carving due to its light density. Did you know it's used for making musical instruments and for artist's charcoal? Even the inner bark can be used for things like rope, baskets, mats and other woven crafts. 

The tree is amazing...and we aren't even to it's homeopathic uses yet!
Linden Flower Tea

It is commonly known in the homeopathic world that the linden flowers (aka lime flowers) have many medicinal uses.  The flowers are best known for containing a high amount of the curative plant fiber mucilage--great for dealing with respiratory complaints. Natural healers have been taking advantage of the warming properties of the trees blossoms for years in making fever reducing tea. Drinking a hot linden-flower tea is known to induce sweating--which as you know is the body's way of cooling itself...thus linden-flower tea is known throughout folk medicine as "fever tea".

But that's not all! 

Remember when I said that it was a must have in your house for everyday remedies? Here is a "short" list of what linden-flower tea is also known for:

*alleviates respiratory ailments including coughs and the byproducts of the common cold
*stimulates the appetite, promotes healthy digestion, and soothes intestinal disorders
*helps calm the nervous system, thus reducing symptoms of anxiety
*to help promote natural sleeping
*eases painful cramps
*skin health and regeneration
*swelling reduction
*a mild diuretic and good for easing the symptoms of gout and rheumatism.

I think you can see the benefit of having linden flowers at your disposal! I have also read that linden flower honey is delicious! I'm a big fan of honey in general, so I would love to try some!

You aren't limited to using it medicinally! The fresh tender leaves of the linden (lime) tree can be added to green salads. You can even remove the stalk from the leaves and add them to your next sandwich. 

Obviously, you have to make sure you are really harvesting a linden tree before you ever consume anything from it...and if you find one, make sure it's not anywhere near a place sprayed with pesticides/herbicides. You don't want those added to your diet!

But if you are like me...you probably just want it already harvested for you. If so, you can buy the linden flowers from most herbal suppliers. My personal favorite is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have excellent prices and are careful to make sure they only provide you herbs that are either organic or cultivated without chemicals or synthetic products--and aim for ethically harvested plants in the wild when available. But, if they can grow it themselves, they do!  Here is the link to purchase dried Linden Leaf and Flower like what I use in our home.

How can you use it to benefit your health?


If you do a search on Pinterest, you can find all sorts of herbal recipes with Linden Flowers in it. I have found many in the books I have read. Linden flowers can be used on their own or mixed with complementary herbs. They are definitely a common denominator of ingredients in the herbal recipes I have checked out.

To use the Linden Flowers as a tea, the most basic recipe is this:
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp of linden flowers, and then steep for 10 minutes. Be careful not to steep too long or the flavor will be lost.

*Sip it (as hot as you can stand it) three times a day to reduce fever and to promote perspiration.
*Drink a cup or two of the tea each day to help break up mucus buildup and congestion, relieving bronchial problems and to help eliminate painful cramps.

I will throw out this note that as I was reading I learned there are contrary arguments regarding drinking large amounts of linden-flower teas. Some sources believe it might damage the heart, while others claim it's safe. Those with heart disease may want to limit their intake to be safe. 

How about a great facial?
Clean your skin and pat dry gently. Place 4 tbsp of linden flowers in a bowl and add 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of boiling water. Lean over the bowl and cover the head with a towel to trap in steam. Remain in this position for a least 10 minutes to allow the steam to open and cleanse the pores. Then wipe your skin with a cool damp cloth. Pat dry and allow the skin to cool down naturally for about 30 minutes before heading outside.

Simple and oh so effective for a great deep cleaning feel. I like to do this when my skin is at its oiliest. It makes my face feel so good!

Have puffy eyes?
To decrease swelling, simply soak cotton balls in the tea (cooled down of course) and place them on the eyelids for about 20 minutes. The flowers are said to reduce swelling, so this a simple and quick remedy.

How about dealing with sleep issues?
Make a tea by boiling 2-3 handfuls of linden flowers in 1 quart of water. Strain this mixture and pour it into the bathwater (or put the handfuls in a muslin bag and toss into your bathwater). Bathing in this will help calm nervous tensions, fight insomnia and is effective for calming children and babies before bed.

I'd even throw in some lavender blossoms (or a couple drops of lavender essential oil) for a truly delightful and soothing bathtime soak.

As I did my searching, the ultimate goal was to find a great recipe to help my boys with the nasty wet cough they have thanks to this nasty warm-cold-warm-frigidly cold-warm bipolar weather we are having this year. A sign of the month of November it seems. I know we aren't the only ones dealing with it this month.

Once I learned that linden flowers had such a great amount of mucilage (great for breaking up mucus and treating respiratory issues)--similar to one of my favorite herbs Slipper Elm Bark-- I knew I wanted them in a tea. I looked at a lot of recipes and came up with the following recipe--I used it today and the boys not only liked the taste, but it I could hear the coughing ease as they drank their tea. I would say that they got a good 2 hrs free from coughing thanks to the tea--and it prepped them for a great night of sleep too.

This recipe is great for boosting the immune system and for alleviating all those annoying bronchial issues--especially the never ending cough! Only want one cup of tea? Just remember it's a 1:1 ratio on the herbs--with a smidge extra for the linden flower. You can adapt it to fill just a tea ball or a tea infuser mug. I don't really measure--I really do pinch! LOL!
cough kicker tea
What my herbal pile looked like before putting it in my tea pot. It's so pretty! 

*When I am giving the boys (age 4 and 8) herbal tea, I make one mug of tea and split it between them giving them about 3-4 oz each. This has always worked well and I would recommend a similar dosage of herbal teas for any child 4-10 years old.  

I get all my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and everything in this recipe can be purchased from them. This makes a delightfully rosy colored up of tea which just looks pretty too. And as always, LIBERALLY lace it with raw honey for extra flavor and help kicking the cough.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the amazing Linden flower. You can see why it is so valued in herbal medicine and I hope that you will consider adding it to your natural remedy "medicine" cabinet in your own home!

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SOURCES:
*Ageless (website)
Botanical Encyclopedia entry for Linden Flowers (http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-linden-flowers.htm)

*The Illustrated Book of Herbs (book)
by Gilda Daisley
Illustrated by Ingrid Jacob
Copyright 1989
"Lime" pg 86-87

*The Complete Guide to Natural Healing (book)
Copyright 1999
Therapeutic Teas (Group 2 Card 9)
Linden-Flower Tea

*LIVESTRONG.COM (website)
"Benefits of Linden Flower Tea" by Joanne Marie
http://www.livestrong.com/article/401394-benefits-of-linden-flower-tea/
May 17, 2014

*Linden Tea (website)
http://lindentea.net/