Elderberries - why I keep these on hand at all times.
There are a select few herbs that I think deserve the title ‘super hero’ in the plant kingdom, and Elder is one of them.
Elder has been revered in Europe for centuries and even considered ‘sacred’ in Medieval times. In 400 BCE Hippocrates referred to the Elder tree as his ‘medicine chest’. Almost every part of the Elder tree can be used for medicine, but let’s focus on Elderberries today.
Key benefits of the Elderberry
Elderberries can shorten the duration of a cold or flu and reduce your symptoms. They contain the protein ‘hemagglutinin’ which inhibits the ability of a virus to penetrate a cell wall, which in turn stops the virus’s ability to replicate.
Elderberries can assist in preventing a Herpes simplex virus (HSV) outbreak or shorten the duration of a herpes outbreak. Next time you feel a cold sore coming on try using Elderberries!
Phagocytosis is one of the incredible functions of our immune system. Phagocytes move around the body identifying bacteria, viruses or old cells, then devour these in order to take them out of the body. Elderberry is one herb that assists in increasing this function.
Elderberries have been historically used to decrease arthritic or rheumatic pain. They can also be used to relieve sinusitis and hay fever.
Elderberries are rich in antioxidants which aid in preventing or slowing damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Elderberry helps increase the flow of urine, which may assist with kidney stagnation or urinary tract infections.
Elderberries have also traditionally been used to assist with respiratory issues like bronchitis, digestive issues, allergies, catarrh, ear infections, coughs, and sore throats.
So, of all the herbs to have on hand in times of illness, Elderberry (in my opinion) is a must.
How do I take Elderberry?
At the first sign of feeling unwell I decoct (simmer in a saucepan for about 25 minutes) a litre of my Cold + Flu Armour tea which is predominantly Elderberries, then sip it constantly for a couple of days or until I’m feeling better.
You can also decoct just the berries: 1/3 cup dried berries (or about half a cup of fresh berries) to 1 litre of water.
Is Elderberry poisonous to humans?
After reading about all the benefits above this may sound like an odd question. But the raw seeds of the berries can make some people nauseous. Elderberries need to be cooked before consuming them, and you’ll find this step is included in recipes.
Is it OK to take Elderberry everyday?
There are lots of recipes online for elderberry syrups and jams and these are a lovely way of consuming the berries regularly. Regular consumption will likely assist you with inflammation and help ward off any illness.
The Elderberry teas I brew work best at the onset of illness. Generally speaking, Elderberry becomes decreasingly helpful as an illness progresses. If I develop a cough or congestion for instance I begin to introduce other herbs that specifically target these symptoms.
For more information (or to purchase) Cold + Flu Armour tea, click here
Where do I get Elderberries?
Elderberries can be found at some health food stores and apothecaries.
You can also grow Elder plants. I live on the East coast of Australia where Elder grows very easily (almost like a weed!) It will grow in any soil type, and while it prefers full sun it will also grow well in part shade. They are quick growers and tend to spread easily, so you may prefer to keep yours contained in a large pot. In the ground they will reach 3-4 metres in height.
Harvest the flowers (which also have amazing healing properties) in Spring and the berries in late Summer - Autumn. You can freeze or dry the berries, or cook them immediately to make syrups, cordials, oxymels or jams for everyday use.