Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronically relapsing inflammatory disorders of the intestine. Although some therapeutic agents, including steroids, are available for the treatment of IBD, these agents have limited use. Therefore, dietary supplements have emerged as possible interventions for IBD. Japanese honeysuckle flower, the flower of Lonicera japonica, is a well-known dietary supplement and has been used to prevent or treat various inflammatory diseases. In the present study, we investigated the effects of L. japonica on experimental murine colitis. Colitis was induced by 5 % dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) in Balb/c mice. The water extract of L. japonica (LJE) at doses of 20, 100 or 500 mg/kg was orally administered to mice twice per day for 7 d. Body weight, colon length and a histological damage score were assessed to determine the effects on colitis. Cytokine profiles were assessed to examine the effects on helper T (Th) cell-related immunological responses. In addition, CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T cells were analysed in vivo and in vitro for investigating the effects on regulatory T (Treg) cells. LJE showed dose-dependent inhibitory effects against colon shortening, weight loss and histological damage. LJE down-regulated IL-1β, TNF-α, interferon-γ, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-17. However, LJE did not show any significant effects on IL-10, IL-23, transforming growth factor-β1 and Treg cell populations. In conclusion, LJE showed protective effects against DSS-induced colitis via the Th1/Th17 pathway and not via Treg cell-related mechanisms.