The Elder plant may not rank among your top ten garden herbs, but its lovely flower tops and fruit can make it one of the most useful plants for the average household. So what does elderberry do? Their antioxidants, flavanoids, and vitamins found in berries and blossoms may strengthen the immune system and help prevent and lessen flu symptoms.
Whether you choose them to be an ornament to your landscape, provide nourishment to the birds and the bees or for creating medicinal recipes, you won’t be disappointed when you’re little one has the sniffles and you have a remedy to soothe his symptoms.
This plant is hearty and give back so much!
What is Elder?
Sambucus nigra (Caprifoliaceae) is a European version of flowering plant and deciduous tree associated for its use in health and medicine.
There are many Elder plants, however, due to the powerful constituents this particular specie has to offer, Sambucus nigra is the most common used for medicinal purposes. Not only is this superfood used in vitamins and supplements, but it is also used in a variety of recipes and other medicinal uses.
According to Chevallier (1), “ Ripe elderberries contain high levels of vitamin C, and contain strong antioxidants.” Research published in Journal of International Medical Research suggests that taking elderberry extract within the first 48 hours or less of onset of symptoms, may decrease the duration of influenza and may help to be an effective treatment for cold and flu virus infections. Elderberry extract is available as an over-the-counter remedy, and can safely be given to children.”
Key Constituents: What are the beneficial properties that makes up the parts used?
Berries (great for syrups, wine, and jams)
- Vitamin C & A
Flowers (great for tea)
Practical Uses: What has the herbs been traditionally used and their current uses?
- Upper respiratory infections like common cold, flu, coughs due to their antiviral properties
- Reduces Congestion, chronic sinusitis infection
- Allergies, ear infections
- Mild laxative
Safety Profiles: What cautionary implications should you be aware of?
Leaves, root, bark and unripe fruit can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and not recommended for internal use. The flowers and berries are mainly used for tea, syrups, and external applications such as creams, cold face wash, baths, soak. The flowers of all true elders are safe for general consumptions and the leaves are quite harmless for external use only. The berries need to be cooked to reduce toxicity of the seeds. Do not eat raw berries as it can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. (2)
1.) Chevallier, A. (2016). Enclyclopedia Of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments (Third Edition). DK Penguin Random House.
2.) Tilgner, S, M. (2009). Herbal Medicine: From the Heart of the Earth (2nd edition). Malloy.