The scents of nature are making their way into personal care products in more and more creative ways. One particular scent is the classic “hummingbird magnet” honeysuckle, which blooms from spring through summer.
My family has a six coral honeysuckle plant in the backyard, and its trumpet-shaped flowers smell heavenly all season long. Best of all, we’ve discovered honeysuckle benefits more than just the local hummingbirds—our whole neighborhood enjoys these unexpected seven uses of the sweet twining vine:
1. Cool Down
The first ever recorded use of honeysuckle’s cooling properties was in Chinese medicine in 659 AD, according to the Tang Bencao. At the time it was used to treat snake bites, drawing out the “hot” toxin and essentially cooling down the patient. Later, Europeans adapted this calming characteristic to relax women during childbirth. Though some still credit honeysuckle with the ability to reduce inflammation, more research would be needed to verify these claims.
2. Soothe Upset Tummies
I’ve never been bitten by a snake (and I plan to keep it that way), but when I was in the early stages of pregnancy, honeysuckle tea helped my nausea immensely. You don’t even need to dry the flower petals to make honeysuckle tea: Simply add about 1/3 cup of fresh honeysuckle petals to a mug of nearly boiling water. After ninety seconds, remove the petals and stir before (carefully) sipping the tea. Of course, check with your own doctor before trying any home remedy during pregnancy – this is just what worked for me!
3. As a Unique Gift
Honeysuckle is an iconic arching flower that can be found, well, pretty much everywhere. That means you can confidently propagate the perennial shrub with ease, offering seedlings as a hostess gift, graduation celebration, or even a symbol of health at a baby shower. When planted in the recipient’s garden, honeysuckle benefits the local bird population, as celebrated by the experts at the Penn State Eberly College of Science. However, include pruning tips in a homemade card so the fragrant plant doesn’t overrun neighboring flowers or veggies.
If honeysuckle makes you think of a sweet juice, you’re exactly right. The plant earned the nickname from its sugary nectar, and while very few people actually have honeysuckle’s essential oil (yields are extremely low), its fragrance is infused in oils and used for a similar purpose. Add a few drops to your diffuser, a steamy bath, or a spray bottle with water for a quick DIY linen spray.
5. As a Berry Stand-In
There are a whopping 180 species of honeysuckle worldwide, and Assistant Professor Bob Bors of the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Saskatchewan recommends the blue honeysuckle’s fruit as a substitute for common berry treats. Think candy, jams, berry bars and tarts, toppings for ice cream or yogurt, and even cakes. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests the fruit’s juice can even help you hit your recommended daily intake of potassium.
6. A Pleasant Fragrance
When you start reading labels to learn about what’s inside your most commonly used products, you may see the ingredient called “fragrance.” When you encounter this term, it can mean almost anything. The Environmental Working Group explains that “fragrance” and “parfum” are catch-alls for manufacturers that prefer not to disclose their trade secrets or specific ingredients.
If you keep reading, you’ll find some product labels offer specific details regarding the scented ingredients inside. When you do, grab one with honeysuckle or honeysuckle rose. Tom’s of Maine lets honeysuckle off the hook when it comes to potential claims, wellness benefits, and alternate uses. Instead, it’s simply included as a natural, classic floral scent. Look for products with honeysuckle on your next trip to the store. Your sniffer will thank you!
How do you harness the goodness of spring’s most prolific flower? Do you have honeysuckle thriving nearby? Tweet your favorite honeysuckle uses (plus a picture!) to @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.