Ah Elderberry. Elderberry tea. Elderberry wine. Elderberry jelly. Elderberry syrup. Elderberry pie.
Elderberry is another natural remedy used for infections, and used for colds and flu symptoms. Elderberry supports heart health and fights inflammation and infections, among other benefits.
Native Americans used it to treat infections, but let’s trace this berry farther through time – the ancient Egyptians used it, too.
In Egypt, it was used as a medicinal herb to treat the skin and to heal burns.
Today, it’s still used in herbal medicine across Europe. The European elderberry or black elder is considered a tree that is native to Europe. But, elderberry isn’t actually a tree – it’s a woody bush that grows up to 30 feet.
I suppose that’s a tree to many people.
The elderberry tree-like-bush has clusters of small, white flowers (elderflowers), and its berries fruit in small, black and dark-blue bunches.
People have used elderberry for its health benefits for hundreds of years primarily because elderberry contains some serious antioxidants.
Turning Back Time
In folk medicine, the dried berries and the berry juice were used to treat the flu, infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, angina, and nerve pain. It was also used as a laxative and diuretic.
From ancient Egypt to Western Europe, the flowers and the leaves were historically used for pain relief, swelling, and inflammation, to stimulate the production of urine, and to induce sweating. The bark was used as a diuretic, laxative, and to induce vomiting.
The berries were cooked to make juice, jams, chutneys, pies and elderberry wine.
The flowers were boiled with sugar to make a sweet syrup and infused as tea. They were also eaten fresh in salads, when lettuce was available to be harvested, that is.
Interestingly, only the berry is non-toxic – the leaves, flowers and the bark are actually toxic, and can stress the kidneys and the liver.
So why are elderberries touted as medicinal if they’re toxic?
They work like pharmaceutical drugs, which are toxic, too. So, do your homework and research elderberry when using it, but don’t shy away from it if using it for a cold or a flu aide, or as a pandemic preventative.
Just remain cautious that elderberry, like most medicinal herbs, are very potent.
Elderberries are chock-full of antioxidants, and contain high amounts of vitamin C and potassium, which aid your immune system to help prevent and fight off cold and flu symptoms.
Unripened elderberries, and the plant’s leaves, twigs, stems and roots, contain traces of cyanide. The amount present is so minuscule, it’s not an issue if you use it responsibly.
Make sure berries are ripe and clean before you consume them. The leaves, twigs, stems, and roots should be avoided, however.
- High in vitamin C: There are 6–35 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, which accounts for up to 60% of the recommended daily intake.
- High in dietary fiber: Elderberries contain 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fresh berries, which is over 1/4 of the recommended daily intake.
- A good source of phenolic acids: These are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body.
- A good source of flavonols: Elderberry contains the antioxidant flavonols quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. The flowers contain up to 10 times more flavonols than the berries, but be cautious when using the potent flowers.
- Rich in anthocyanins: These compounds give the fruit its dark black-purple color, and are a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.
Common side effects of elderberry are:
- Nausea/vomiting (consumption of raw berries);
If you are feeling a cold or flu coming on, elderberries used during your symptoms just might keep you healthy.
So, enjoy a piece of elderberry pie like your grandmother used to make.
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.
Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.
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