The Lime trees or Linden trees (TILLEUL in French) are present in all the temperate regions of the world.
These are often planted on village squares and near homes because everybody appreciate their foliage, their resistance to climatic variations and the abundance of their fragrant flowers.
There are also natural forests where lime trees are dominant (eg in Central Europe).
The lime trees or linden trees have a smooth and clear bark for about twenty years but later it cracks.
These trees can reach 30 to 40 m high in the forest or when they are not cut.
They have an exceptional longevity (several hundreds of years) in spite of the little resistance of their soft and pale wood easy to carve.
There are several dozen species of Tilia whose pharmacological properties are not always known.
Tilia species easily hybridize with each other and thus give varieties with variable botanical characteristics and which are often sterile.
The main European species that we appreciate and use in herbal medicine are:
The small-leaved lime: Tilia cordata = Tilia sylvestris.
The large-leaved lime tree: Tilia platyphyllos.
The hybrid of these two species, the common lime: Tilia vulgaris.
The American lime, Tilia americana with adjacent medicinal properties has geographical subspecies (eg Tilia americana subspecies mexicana).
All these Tilia trees have heart-shaped leaves, inflorescences with yellow-white flowers, very fragrant whose light green or yellow membranous bracts are well developed.
Flowering occurs in late spring and early summer (late May-June-July), it is short and depends on the variety of Tilia and its geographical location.
Many insects and in the first place bees are strongly attracted by the sweet but powerful smell of linden flowers, it is an important honey plant.
The inflorescences of linden tree (flowers and bracts) and the sapwood (or alburnum) of linden tree (soft wood just under the bark) are used in herbal medicine.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
FLOWERS AND FLORAL BRACTs OF TILIA
They mainly contain:
- flavonoids derived from kaempferol (tiliroside) or quercetrol (quercetroside) antispasmodic and slightly anti-inflammatory.
- About 10% of mucilaginous substances.
- Some tannin and antioxidant phenol acids (caffeic, chlorogenic).
- Between 0.05 and 0.1% of terpenes that can be extracted in the form of essential oil including farnesol (sesquiterpene) and a complex mixture of non-specific linden mono terpenes (linalool, geraniol, 1.8- cineole (eucalyptol), carvone, camphor, thymol and carvacrol).
The linden flowers do not contain (in large quantity) toxic or irritating substances.
The linden flowers are:
- soothing, sedative of the central nervous system and antispasmodic; they can reduce anxiety (mild anxiolytics).
These are the traditional properties of the lime tree but have been confirmed by experimentation (some compounds extracted from the flowers bind to the benzodiazepine receptors).
- Slightly diuretic and possibly hypotensive by a relaxing effect on the musculature of the blood vessels.
Herborists in France prefer to use the sapwood of linden from small-leafed limes (Tilia cordata = sylvestris) found in the southern part of the country in dry hot and rather calcareous regions (ex Linden of Roussillon)
The sapwood contains:
- Phenolic compounds: tannins and phenolic acids anti-inflammatory and antioxidants.
- Coumarins (fraxoside, esculoside) protecting small blood vessels, anti-inflammatory and choleretic.
- Antispasmodic phloroglucinol.
Linden sapwood extracts are slightly antispasmodic (mainly on the digestive tract including the bile ducts and the urogenital sphere).
The increase in excretion of bile (choleretic effect) is partly due to the relaxation of the oddi sphincter which controls the arrival of bile in the duodenum (proximal small bowel).
The increase in biliary excretion is appreciated to lower blood cholesterol, improve digestion (especially fat) and more simply to "cleanse" the body, the liver eliminating many toxic substances through the flow of bile.
In addition, the relaxation of the blood vessel muscles can slightly dilate the coronaries and temporarily lower the blood pressure.
We recommend them:
- To calm the neurotonic states of the child and the adult.
- Against nervousness and especially the difficulties to fall asleep.
- To reduce the frequency of extrasystoles of neurotonic origin.
- In case of mild anxiety.
Examples of dosage:
INFUSION (herbal tea):
Fresh or dry linden inflorescences in very hot water, infusion of 5 to 10 minutes, one or two cups in the evening 1/2 hour before bedtime and at the end of the afternoon.
This is the easiest and most enjoyable way to use linden. You can dose the herbal tea knowing that it is safe and use the flowers that have been harvested and dried (before full bloom).
They keep well for 3 months then gradually lose their aroma, so their effectiveness.
ETHANOLIC TINCTURE of linden flowers:
50 to 100 drops at bedtime.
GLYCERO-ETHANOLIC maceration of linden buds
30 to 50 drops 3 times a day or 100 drops at bedtime. it is advocated rather to calm mild anxiety and the difficulties of falling asleep.
There are also many specialties containing either extracts of linden flowers or lime blossom in powder form.
Comply with the indications of the manufacturer's laboratory.
In children (over 6 years) reduce the dosage by half.
TILIA SAPWOOD OR ALBURNUM
Linden sapwood extracts are mainly used in case of functional disorders of the bile ducts (biliary dyskinesias), ie when there are no obstacles (stones) or organic shrinkage (compression, cancer ).
They are also recommended to increase the biliary flow and in case of "digestive" migraines linked to a malfunction of the bile ducts (spasm of the sphincter of Oddi).
Spasmodic disorders of the digestive tract (belching, postprandial meteorism) can also be improved using these extracts.
Finally, a sapwood extract extract of sapwood can "detoxify" the body and improve various disorders: food allergies, eczema, some inflammations of the joints, constipation of hepatic origin, moderate hypertension.
Examples of dosage:
DECOCTION of sapwood:
50g of sapwood in fragments in 1 liter of water, decoction for 15 minutes and infusion for 1 hour while waiting for the liquid to cool down.
To drink in the day flavored or not by honey or stevia.
In cure of one to two weeks per month without time limitation.
For a faster and more flexible use one can prefer commercial extracts of sapwood linden in liquid form (drinkable) or pharmaceutical specialties (tablets)
The leaves do not contain toxic or irritating substances, they are appreciated by the majority of herbivores and can serve as a survival food (or dietary supplement: proteins, iron, natural carbohydrates, carotenoids) for humans especially in powder form dry leaves (like the powder of Moringa leaves).
A small quantity of leaf powder is added to the diet (bread, cereals, soups).
To my knowledge the linden leaf powder does not exist commercially but it is easy to achieve, just dry well developed leaves (after flowering), they will keep for several months without losing their dietary quality.
THE AMERICAN TILIA OR BASSWOOD
Linden flowers are used as an infusion in North America, Mexico and southern South America for their sedative and calming properties in the same way as in Europe.
The flowers of the local species (Tilia americana) or introduced European species are used interchangeably; to my knowledge, the linden sapwood is not used across the Atlantic.
A BEAUTIFUL TREE WITH SOOTHING AND SEDATIVE FLOWERS
The lime trees or linden trees are widespread trees, with fragrant melliferous flowers.
The inflorescences are sedative of the nervous system, and facilitate the appearance of sleep.
The softwood (sapwood) contains antispasmodic compounds active on the bile ducts and digestive system.
Lime trees that have a long life are often planted as decorative trees.
Copyright 2019 :: Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel