The Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is cultivated and grows wild throughout many parts of the US. Many people think of it as a weed, because it is hard to tame and spreads easily, making it virtually impossible to control. For others, its highly fragrant yellowish white flowers are a welcome sign of spring. Most of us remember as children opening up the end of a flower to taste a drop of sweet nectar.
Japanese honeysuckle is native to many parts of Asia and is widely used and valued in Oriental medicine for its numerous health benefits. It has several Chinese names: jin yin hua, ren dong hua, er hua, amongst others. Jin yin hua is considered sweet and cold in properties, and is associated with lung, spleen and large intestine. It clears heat and removes toxins. It is used as an anti-inflammatory, to treat sore throats and strep throat, fevers, headaches, colds and flu, bronchitis and other respiratory problems; as well as some skin irritations, ulcers, heat related diarrhea and digestive problems. Jin yin hua is often taken at the first sign of a cold and can be found as a main ingredient in many cold and flu herbal formulae, such as the well known Yin Chiao, which can be purchased in health food stores.
Dried Japanese honeysuckle is usually found in Chinese supermarkets. If you have your own plant at home, make sure it is pesticide free before thinking about using it.