I am rather amazed at the extent of scientific research available on Lonicera japonica and the list of its benefits for symptoms related to both acute and chronic diseases. Not all plants get as much attention and are that versatile. And despite that, seems like no-one talks about Lonicera! So, I decided to write and share some knowledge about it.
At my herbal medicine course my master of Classical Chinese Medicine mentioned how much attention Honeysuckle had got since Covid. It immediately struck out for me as it happened to grow in a green hedge near my house. It is an easy plant to remember too with its gorgeous flowers and captivating smells. So, I gave it a go.
I gathered its flowers, young leaves and its stems and dried them in room temperature. When I came down with a flu, I prepared a decoction and drank it twice a day. The effect on body aches was particularly noticeable, including lowering of fever. The overall feeling of being soothed in body aches was very wholesome. It has not delivered that well on phlegm expectorant side, but that could be helped with some other plants, such as Eucalyptus.
There are some curiosities about Honeysuckle. It's chinese name is Jin Yin Hua which means the Gold Silver Flower. Already the name suggests it is Yin and Yang balancing (Gold being Yang and Silver being Yin). In fact, it balances the heat in the body with the aumented urination which it replaces with extra production of liquids. It has an affinity with Lungs (reduces heat in acute condition), Bladder (augments urination) and Stomach (decoction is really sweet and its flowers are said to have a "mouthwatering" scent).
It is believed to have been imported to Europe from Japan (hence the name) and it has become a very "successful" invasive plant. It is known that non-indigenous plants, if they manage to thrive really well in a new environment, are indicative of their energetic force. Honeysuckle probably has its secret to its success. It is probably due to its double pollination that it is spreading and surviving that well. It attracts day time insects with its flowers and night time moths with its evening scent. It could be the reason for its Chinese name too, the Gold and Silver Flower; spreads its pollen in the sunshine (gold) and in the moonlight (silver).
Traditionally, it has been used since classical times. It is the leading herb in the Yin Qiao San formula. Before the era of antibiotics, Yin Qiao San was used for acute upper respiratory infections. In fact, I find much good coverage Honesuckle has got since Covid! Looking at its chemical composition, in the list of many I read it includes the famous Quercetin (for who follows the anti-covid protocols) at a relatively good bioavailability:
Although it's most frequent use is in acute febrile conditions, Lonicera j. is also used in reducing heat in chronic (including cancer) and autoimmune conditions. It performs double role, one of getting rid of heat (such as inflammation) through urination but at the same time aids regenerating the liquids through its Stomach affinity.
Some highlighted actions of Lonicera j. include:
"anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidative and hepatoprotective activities"
One study has tested the Yin Qiao San formula, with Honeysuckle as the leading herb, as an alternative to paracetamol and NSAIDs in children, with good results too:
So, you only have to try it out for yourselves. Although the flowering season for Honeysuckle is in June, one can also collect the young leaves. In alternative, you can buy dry herb or the ready Yin Qiao San formula and keep it for times when the fever or inflammation strikes.