Honeysuckle-Lonicera Japonica, Lonicera Periclymenum
Also known as: Japanese honeysuckle, Morrow's honeysuckle, Woodbind
Parts used: flowers, leaves, roots
Meridians/Organs affected: liver, stomach, lungs, blood
Properties: alterative, refrigerant, antibiotic, diuretic, diaphoretic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, purgative, sedative, analgesic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory
Honeysuckle is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family. It is a deciduous shrub with twining vine-like branches, ovate leaves, and very fragrant white, yellow or red flowers followed by red or black berries. It is a native of Europe but has been naturalized in the United States, Asia and Russia. In most of these countries it is now listed as a weed. It grows very well in wooded areas and as a hedge, which is how many people use it, as an ornamental barrier.
There are 180 species of honeysuckle, most of which have medicinal capabilities. The flowers should be harvested when in bloom between the spring and fall (May through September).
Honeysuckle is a plant that most people know both by sight and by smell. It has an intoxicating fragrance that bees love and often come to steal honeysuckle nectar. The berries are a very popular food source for birds in the fall months.
In most cultures this plant is considered a symbol of love. There are many old wives' tales attached to the plant. For instance, it was once believed that keeping honeysuckle flowers inside the home was dangerous because it might give young women impure thoughts. The twisty vines were commonly used in making walking sticks and gentleman with honeysuckle walking sticks were said to win any woman they wanted because of honeysuckle's allure. Shakespeare also spoke of it as a 'lover's nest' in "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
The Elizabethans knew of honeysuckle's many romantic associations but were also wise enough to use it as medicine. The flowers and leaves have a fair amount of salicyclic acid (the same compound found in aspirin) and a tea made from the leaves or flowers was often used for rheumatism, headaches, bronchial issues and fevers. Today, most herbalists use the flowers rather than the leaves although they share many similar medicinal capabilities. The yellow-flowered varieties are used more to temper 'hot' conditions such as heat stroke or sunstroke, hot flashes, fevers and urinary tract infections.
Honeysuckle itself has been used for many chronic respiratory complaints like croup, asthma and bronchitis. In many Asian cultures it is standard to use honeysuckle along with forsythia for any respiratory disorder. It has been found to be effective for sore throats and Dr. James Duke says it is second only to eucalyptus for such things. Recent Chinese studies have found that honeysuckle has a rather broad spectrum antimicrobial reach; it has been found to be effective against staph, strep, salmonella and pseudomonas aeruginosa; and also rather effective against cancer, especially that of the breast and lung. It helps with intestinal inflammation, reproductive and urinary complaints, the flu and colds. It is even a good skin wash for poison ivy and other skin rashes.
Honeysuckle is also one of the Bach flower remedies. Its essence is used for those who are stuck in the past, often being lost with thoughts or memories of happier times and are unable to move forward. It is used for those who cannot let go of the past and are lost in nostalgia.
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