Linden leaves are chock-full of antioxidants and ingredients that help...

Linden leaves are chock-full of antioxidants and ingredients that help your cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory tract. Linden is best known to help with mild insomnia and anxiety. Credit: Getty Images

Dear Pharmacist,

At one of your lectures I heard you say you drink linden tea at night but you never said why.  What is it and why is it something you like? 

-- L.P. Jacksonville, Florida

Linden herb is so awesome and because it has so many health benefits, I incorporate it into many homemade herbal teas. You may not have heard of it before but this centuries-old herb has been historically used as a nonnarcotic treatment to help with sleep and anxiety and it lowers blood pressure.

Linden herb is chock-full of antioxidants and ingredients that affect your cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory tract. Linden is best known to help with mild insomnia and anxiety. One of the active ingredients in linden is an essential oil called farnesol, which helps relax the cardiovascular system. This may have a positive impact on arrhythmias while also curbing stress. Most people report feeling relaxed, and even drowsy. Linden can also help with indigestion as well as nausea and vomiting.

This is interesting. Linden mildly reduces blood pressure because the farnesol it contains acts like a natural calcium channel blocker (drugs that are in this category include amlodipine, nifedipine and diltiazem among others). Linden also is a mild diuretic and gently dilates blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely. Sweet, if you have high blood pressure! That said, don’t give up your medication, I don’t think it’s as strong as medicine unless you combine it with other antihypertensive herbs.

This is a good time of year to mention that linden is capable of soothing the upper respiratory tract, great if you have a cold or flu. It promotes sweating, so this as a great natural way to break a fever and release toxins from your body. It has natural antiseptic properties so it could ward off infections. Having both expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties, linden can help thin mucus and this could be very soothing for some people, especially those with bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.

Linden supports liver health and enhances bile secretion and these actions help you eliminate toxins better. Linden is not that popular (yet) so if you want it, these are only a few options: Dried herb is sold online and some health food stores, just make tea like I do (one tablespoon herb per cup of water); for a stronger effect, buy a pure extract made by Herb Pharm or capsules made by Nature’s Way.

Linden grows all over Colorado and it’s a gorgeous tree. If you have one, be careful harvesting because of skin reaction. Also, too much linden can adversely affect the heart. Because it has widespread effects on the body, head to toe, it could interact with medications, especially lithium and diuretics. It’s important to ask your doctor if  new herbs, even great ones like linden, are appropriate for you.

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