Latin Name Tilia cordata mill. T.europaea, T. platiphyllos Scop.
Etymology A tall graceful tree which grows up to 30 metres (100 feet) high. It has bright green, heart-shaped leaves, and yellowy-white powerfully scented flowers borne in clusters.
The odour of the flowers is linked to a small content of essential oil of variable composition according to their situation: that from the bracts is rich in aldehydes, whereas that from the flowers is mainly monoterpene hydrocarbons; both contain oxygenated mono- and sesquiterpenes (linalool, geraniol, farnesol, camphor, carvone, cineole0, aromatic alcohols (phenyl ethanol, benzyl alcohol), phenols and aliphatic compounds (Bruneton 1995). It is native to Europe and the northern hemisphere.
The Oil An absolute is produced by solvent extraction of the dried flowers, but the macerated oil is of greater importance.
Method of Extraction The flowers are left to seep in good quality vegetable oil (usually organic sunflower oil) for several days with occasional agitation before the plant material is filtered off.
Folk-Lore and Traditional Plant Uses Culpepper stated that lime flowers are a "good cephalic and nervine, excellent for apoplexy, epilepsy, vertigo and palpitation of the heart'.
Lime blossom has been used for migraine, hysteria, arteriosclerotic hypertension, feverish colds (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia 1983) and specifically for raised blood pressure associated with nervous tension (Wren 1988).
The flowers are used medicinally; they contain a volatile oil, sudorific glycosides and hesperidin (Weiss 1988) and lime blossom is a good diaphoretic (sudorific); still occasionally used as a diuretic, stomachic, antispasmodic and sedative (Bisset 1994). Traditionally used in the symptomatic treatment of nervous disorders in adults and children, especially in the case of minor sleep disturbances (Bruneton 1995).
Therapeutic Properties - Internal Use Lime blossom has been reported as possessing a restricted range of antifungal activity (Guerin & Reveillere 1984). Antispasmodic (Schauenberg & Paris 1990), diuretic and sedative action has also been claimed (Sticher 1977).
Lime blossom tea has been used in cases of headaches due to high blood pressure, in hysteria, insomnia and to aid digestion (Bartram 1996) and to take the edge off anxiety (Landis 1998).
Therapeutic Properties - External Use Wrinkles soothes rheumatic pain relaxing, aiding sleep (de Boek 1991) may be used as an emollient and itch relieving treatment of skin problems.
Culinary Use Linden blossom tea, known as tilleul (the French name for the plant) is drunk a great deal on the Continent as a general relaxant.
Cautionary Notes There are no known contraindications to the use of the macerated oil. It has been suggested that lime blossom should be avoided by individuals with as an existing cardiac disorder (duke 1985, Hamon & Blackburn 1985).
Reference: Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy & Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price