Its botanical name is Sambucus Canadensis. For centuries, traditional European folk medicine has touted the benefits of elderberry extract for immune support, and now modern science is finally catching up.
Recent studies have found that a commercial preparation of elderberry extract called Sambucol is more effective than other over-the-counter remedies at shortening the duration and severity of the flu.
Elderberry, also called elder flower, is a tree that bears cream-colored flowers followed by dark purple berries in autumn.
Varieties include: American elder (Sambucus canadensis) and the European Elder (Sambucus nigra). And commonly named: Sweet elder, common elder, elderberry and sambucus.
Sometimes propagated as an ornamental shrub, the elderberry bush is a member of the honeysuckle family. It’s actually a small tree, with an abundance of delicate white flowers emerging as berry clusters generally between August and October, mostly in cool-to-warm areas of the country, like the Northeastern and Northwestern areas of the US and Canada.
A uniquely American fruit familiar to the nation’s first inhabitants, traditional uses for elderberries by Indians, who made use of every little part of the plant, included tools crafted from the branches, such as arrow shafts and pipes, as well as the berries.
Still a novelty to many Americans, this tiny black fruit yields an abundance of juice for its small size. When cooking elderberries for sauce, some may prefer a little extra sweetness.
Part that are used medicinally are the leaves, flowers and berries.
Its branches spread to 8 feet when laden with fruit, the plant itself growing about 12 feet under good conditions. In August through October, the glorious elderblossoms, or elderblow, are picked for jelly making. They are also used in pancakes and muffin batters to lighten and sweeten them.
Content of Elderberry: Tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, rutin, vitamins A, B, C and riboflavin. All these vitamins work collectively to keep your body fit and healthy always.
These edible berries also hold a remarkable mineral content. Packed naturally with 9% iron, 8% potassium and 4% of calcium and phosphorus each, elderberries ensure the smooth functioning of all the bodily systems.
Additionally, elderberries can be a great addition to your diet if you’re looking for a fiber rich fruit that can boost your digestive system. A single serving of elderberries is just enough to satisfy 28% of your daily fiber requirements and keep your digestive system working efficiently!
Elderberries have been used not just for their unique tartness, but for many different traditional and Native American folk remedies. The dark berries are the good ones, with a history of treating conjunctivitis, cold and flu symptoms, reducing congestion, relieving arthritis pain, soothing upset stomachs, relieving gas, and for detoxification.
Elderberry flowers are popular for making solutions to soften, tone, and restore the skin, relax sore muscles, and sooth burns and rashes.
Here are some of the miracle-making properties in the elderberry plant:
- Anti-inflammatory. Compounds called anthocyanins lend elderberry its anti-inflammatory effect, which can help reduce the nasty aches, pains and fever that accompany the flu.
- Break fever
- Cleans and heals the colon
- Clears congestion and inflammation
- Elderberries are effective against both bacteria and viruses, and act to prevent viruses from entering cells.
- Elderberry tea can help purify the blood.
- Elderberry tea may inhibit influenza replication and boost immune system activity. People that take elderberry during cold and flu season report less symptoms than people who don’t take it.
- Elderberry tea reduces and deactivates the oxidation of the cardiovascular system.
- Improves digestion
- Improve heart health by lowering blood pressure
- Improves nasal congestion. Tannin and viburnic acid, properties present in elderberries, help improve breathing and provide relief from nasal congestion.
- It can help reduce swelling in the mucous membranes.
- Its flowers when use as poultice can help reduce inflammation.
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduce menopause symptoms
- Supports the immune system. Antioxidants called flavanoids are also plentiful in elderberry, which help to stimulate the immune system.
- The berries have high levels of tannins which work as a natural diuretic. They have twice the antioxidant properties of that of blueberries and cranberries.
- The elder flower can help strengthen the upper respiratory tract. The flowers are effective at reducing phlegm and encouraging sweating.
- The elderberry juice helps improve vision, especially night vision.
- The juice of the berries can help improve digestion and elimination and are used to relieve arthritis.
WHERE TO BUY AND HOW TO USE
You can buy elderberry extracts at most health food stores, though they can be expensive. To save money, it’s easy to make your own. Here’s a recipe for homemade elderberry syrup.
1 cup black elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup raw local honey
Place berries and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Crush the berries and strain of the skins. Allow to cool before stirring in honey.
For best results, take one tablespoon daily when you’re well. You can take it on its own, or add it to fruit smoothies, kefir or yogurt. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take a teaspoon every few hours until you recover.
Elderberry syrup is as good for kids as it is for adult, but it’s important to remember never to give products containing raw honey to children under 2.
- The berries should never be consumed raw. Since they contain hydrocyanic acid and alkaloids that can cause severe stomach upset.
- Drinking a tea instead of taking a capsule is sometimes said to expedite the healing process, since the body can begin to absorb the nutrients immediately, without waiting for the capsule to dissolve and the contents to be broken down by the stomach.
Drinking more than 20 ounces of elderberry juice can result in diarrhea. Additionally, when eating elderberries in raw form it can result in vomiting and dizziness.