Praised as the best herb that fights bacteria and diminishes inflammation, honeysuckle flower, also commonly known as Japanese honeysuckle and Jin Yin Hua, is one of the most familiar Chinese healing herbs these days. The “Compendium of Materia Medica” names it as Jin Yin Hua, literally translated as “gold silver flower” in English, simply because its flowers are white (silver) initially and then turn yellow (gold) when fully blooming. Thanks to its unique medicinal properties and lots of health benefits available, it is used as not only medicine but also the substitute of tea for a number of purposes since it has kind of bittersweet flavor and sweet aroma. More importantly, regular consumption of it does not hurt the stomach, but quickly reduce inflammation by means of dispelling dampness and resolving toxin.
What is honeysuckle flower?
Actually there are a few honeysuckle vine varieties. And their medicinal part is the dried flower bud or just barely open flower of Lonicera japonica Thunb., Lonicera hypoglauca Miq., Lonicera confusa DC., or Lonicera dasystyla Rehd., which are plants in the family caprifoliaceae. Hence, other names of it are Flos Lonicerae, Flos Lonicerae Japonicae, Honey Suckle, Jinyinhua, Ren Dong, Woodbine, and so on. In China, they are distributed in the north and south China, including Henan, Shandong and other provinces. It is regularly collected in early summer when the flowers are just blooming. And the following step is to place them in the shade to dry. It is traditionally used raw, fried, or distillated. And today it can be reachable by much more ways, such as honeysuckle flower tea, extract, essence, drink, drop, jam, jelly, and more.
Lonicera japonica is a semi-evergreen perennial twining woody vine, which normally can grow to 9 meters in height. Stems are hollow, with many branches and the younger ones are densely covered by pubescence and glandular hairs. Leaves are opposite; petiole is 4 to 10cm long and densely pubescent; blade is papery, ovate, or ovate-lanceolate, 2.5 to 8cm long, 1 to 5.5cm wide, and with mucronate, gradually acute or obtuse apex, rounded or cordate base, and entire margin. Flowers are axillary in pair; pedicels are densely covered with pubescence and glandular hairs; peduncle grows usually in the twigs’ upper part axils. Berry is spherical, 6 to 7cm in diameter, and blue-black and shiny when ripe. Flowering time is from April to July and the fruiting time is from June to November.
Lonicera japonica contains chlorogenic acid, isochlorogenic acid, ginnol, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, stigmasteryl-D-glucoside, volatile oil, etc. And volatile oil mainly contains linalool, ethylpalmitater, methylinoleate, β-cubebene, α-terpineol, eugenol, carvacrol, and so on.
Honeysuckle flower health benefits
Being one of 40 types of cultivated bulk medical herbs, Japanese honeysuckle now has become a household name. It is consumed mainly for the sake of health maintenance since it has long been considered as a good medicine for clearing away heat and toxic materials. More importantly, unlike other cold-nature herbal medications honeysuckles won’t impair the function of stomach. That is also the reason why it is so popular in prevention and control of epidemic disease. What’s more, it is also widely used for the treatment of a variety of pyreticosis, such as fever, rash, measles, carbuncle, sore throat, etc. All the above-mentioned effects have been well documented in “Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic” and “Compendium of Materia Medica”. In 1980s, the State Ministry of Health in China ever conducted a chemical analysis for honeysuckle, and found that it contained a variety of essential trace elements, chemical composition, and many beneficial enzymes that could defy aging, fight cancer, and help weight loss.
Modern pharmacology of Japanese honeysuckle flower
1. It has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. That’s to say, it inhibits pathogenic bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Shigella. And it also inhibits a variety of pathogenic microbes, including leptospirosis, influenza virus, pathogenic fungi and so on;
2. Its decoction can promote leukocyte phagocytosis; has significant anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects. And it has significant anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects;
3. It has a certain cholesterol-lowering effect;
4. Its water and alcohol extract have significant cytotoxicity on sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich ascites tumor;
5. Oral administration of high doses of the herb can prevent experimental gastric ulcer. In addition, it has some certain excitatory effect on central nervous system.
Selected honeysuckle flowers recipes in herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica believes that honeysuckles are sweet in flavor and cold in properties and involve lung and stomach meridians. Typical function is to clear heat and removing toxicity. Common honeysuckle flower uses and indication are fever in febrile disease, dysentery with bloody stool due to heat toxin, carbuncle and boils, pharyngitis and a variety of infectious diseases. Recommended dosage is from 10 to 20 grams in decoction or teapills.
1. Ren Dong San from Hui Zhi Tang Jing Yan Fang (Experiential Prescriptions from Hui Zhi Clinic). It combines whitish honey for bloody flux or granulated sugar for white diarrhea.
2. Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin from Yi Zong Jin Jian (Golden Mirror of Orthodox medicine). It works with Zi Hua Di Ding (Yedeon’s Violet), Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion), and Ye Ju Hua (Wild Chrysanthemum Flower) for the treatment of painful hard swollen boils with deep root.
3. Qing Chang Yin from Bian Zheng Lu (Record of Pattern Identification). It joins Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Di Yu (Sanguisorba Officinalis), and Huang Qin (Scutellaria Baicalensis) to treat abdominal pain because of appendicitis.
4. Yin Qiao San from Wen Bing Tiao Bian (Systemic Discourse on Warm Diseases). In this formula, honeysuckle flower and forsythia fruit are a perfect match and the other major herbal ingredients are Bo He (Mint Herb), Niu Bang Zi (Burdock), and more. And it deals with a few diseases like wind-heat common cold and the beginning of epidemic febrile disease.
5. Ren Dong Tan from Yi Xue Xin Wu (Medical Revelations). It cooperates with Gan Cao (Licorice Root) to cure all internal and external carbuncles.
Honeysuckle flower side effects and contraindications
Honeysuckle flower is generally considered safe if used properly. But just keep in mind not to take large doses of Japanese honeysuckle stems and leaves because the saponins contained can be barely absorbed and dangerous. And use it with care during or after surgery since it could prevent blood from clotting. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used under the circumstances of deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach and sore and ulcer with clear pus due to Qi deficiency.