Basswood flowers, fruits and wood have been used in herbal remedies for thousands of years, for the treatment of a variety of ailments. At one time, flowers were even added to baths to aid in the treatment of hysteria (presumably that of women.)
Because of the large amount of nectar yielded by the flowers, the tree is a particular favorite of bees, who produce a high quality honey. Tilia americana is one of three flowering trees important as a nectar source for bees—the others are the Yellow poplar and the Black locust. As a single source for nectar, basswood rivals clover, thistle and milkweed, providing the bees enough to produce 800-1,100 pounds of honey per acre. Bees are hard to contain, but bee-keepers move hives into the vicinity of sources that are just coming into bloom, and if 80% of the content of a particular honey can be shown to be from one source, it can be considered a monofloral honey, which is more highly valued than honey from mixed sources.
The power of honey to heal was recognized in ancient times—by the Egyptians, who used it both internally and externally to soothe burns and cuts, and to aid the healing of wounds and infections; as well as by practitioners of the traditional Hindu system of healing, Ayurveda. They believed that honey would create balance in all the bodily systems.
Some of the ailments that have been successfully treated include: burns and open wounds, diabetic ulcers (topical), migraines, insomnia, hyperactivity, anemia, osteoporosis, colds, fevers, sore throat, eczema, acne, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, indigestion, laryngitis, and asthma, to name just some. The only conditions in which honey is contraindicated are diabetes (internal consumption) and those who are suffering from acute heart failure or pulmonary hemorrhage.
Raw, unpasturised, organic honey has been proven to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that do indeed help heal wounds. Many believe that the therapeutic possibilities of honey should be investigated further; however, as honey, being an organic product, cannot be patented, studies may be few, so it is up to individuals to experiment with simple remedies, using common sense, or with the guidance of non-traditional healers.