Honeysuckle flowers

Chinese: 金银花

Pinyin: Jīn Yín Huā

Parts used: Dried flower bud

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLung

Scientific name: Lonicera japonica

Other names: Golden-and-silver honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle

Use of honeysuckle flowers (Jīn Yín Huā) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Dry flower buds immediately after harvest. The temperatures should be tightly controlled: first dry at 30 - 35 °C during 2 hours, then at 40 °C for 5 - 10 hours and finally at 45 - 50 °C during 10h. During drying the flower buds shouldn't be turned around otherwise they'll turn black.

Dosage: 10 - 20g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Dispels Wind-Heat derived from an External pathogen. Expels Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner. Relieves Carbuncles.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which honeysuckle flowers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Carbuncles Boils Erysipelas Dysentery Pharyngitis Acne Tonsillitis Laryngitis Sore throat

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Deficiency in the Spleen/Stomach when there is Cold or diarrhea. It should be used carefully when there is Qi or Yin Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which honeysuckle flowers are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind honeysuckle flowers' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), honeysuckle flowers are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category honeysuckle flowers are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that honeysuckle flowers typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition honeysuckle flowers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Honeysuckle flowers also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like honeysuckle flowers tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such honeysuckle flowers are thought to target the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on honeysuckle flowers

Loniceroside C, a saponin from Japanese honeysuckle, showed in vivo anti-inflammatory activity against mouse ear edema1

Sources:

1. Wie Jong Kwak, Chang Kyun Han, Hyeun Wook Chang, Hyun Pyo Kim, Sam Sik Kang, Kun Ho Son (2003) Loniceroside C, an Antiinflammatory Saponin from Lonicera japonica. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 51: No. 3 p. 333-335

Use of honeysuckle flowers as food

Honeysuckle flowers are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Honeysuckle Pound Cake or Honeysuckle syrup.