Monday, March 18, 2013



Also known as Sambucus Nigra L. or Sambucus Canadensis L. in latin terms.  Most people however know it by Elderberry, American Elder, Pipe Tree, Black Elder and Common Elder.

Meridians/Organs affected:   Lungs, Liver, Stomach, Colon

Parts used:  flowers, leaves, bark, berries

Bark:  emetic, cathartic (remember the list of the properties of herbs I posted to the site)

Flowers:  diaphoretic, diuretic, exanthematous, alterative, emollient, discutient, rubrifacient, stimulant.

Flowers are gathered in June, leaves in July (8 am-10 am), bark in September (11 am-1pm), berries are gathered AFTER the first frost between 2 pm-4 pm.

Do not use fresh herb as poisoning may result-FOR THE RED ELDERBERRY VARIETY!

Elderberry description:  white or yellow flowers that develop into fruit; plant grows between 10-30 feet high.  Blooms April-June; fruits mid to later summer.

Pick bunches of elderberries when they are ripe and black but still firm and shiny.  The easiest way to strip them from their stems is to use a fork.  To harvest the flowers for drying, pick whole, sweet-smelling heads and spread them on brown paper, when dry, use a fork to strip the blossoms off the stems.

Elderberry is a member of the honeysuckle family.  The roots are not to be used as they can be toxic.  The bark from young trees (bark must be aged one (1) year or more) makes a strong laxative when gathered in autumn.  In small aounts it has been found to be helpful for renal and cardiac dropsy (dropsy = too much accumulation of diluted lymph fluid in the connective tissue of the peritoneal and/or pleural cavities of the body-AND it doesn't drain).  It can also be an emetic for jaundice or asthmatic type conditions where alot of mucus and/or phlegm is involved.  In the case of dropsy, one wine glassful of aged elder bark infusion every 3 hours until the bowels move or until urine is excreted is what has been reported as effective.  It is also used for epilepsy and to cleanse the stomach (as an emetic).

Tea made from the flowers is excellent for eye inflammation or twitching.  It is said to be a wonderful tonic and blood purifier.  It has been shown to build the system and is great for the kidneys and liver.  It is also been said to be a remedy for erysepilas (in children, a skin infection usually brought about by a form of strep).

With any skin disease, the tea should be taken both internally and used on the skin.  It is useful for fevers, headaches, rheumatism, syphilis, cholera and, when combined with peppermint, it is great for the flu.  Made into an ointment it is good for scalds, burns and most skin diseases.

Elderberryhas been used as a circulatory stimulant and an anti-hypertensive.  In fact, it is purported to be very good for the heart in general.  It contains capillarigenics (increases capillary health and their ability to transport blood), kaempferol (shown to be useful against HIV) and many anti-carcinogenic components.  There have been a series of studies conducted on elderberry extract with regards to the flu virus (Influenza A & B).  In all cases, those subjects taking elderberry extract (also known as Sambucol) experienced almost full recovery within 24-48 hours.

For hundreds of years, the gypsy people have used elderberries to treat the flu, colds and neuralgia.  The hot tea is soothing to the respiratory system and promotes sweating.  It has ben used to come success for skin inflammation (eczema, etc.).  Elderberries are a good source of vitamins A, B, C an B-17 (laetrile), plus calcium, potassium and iron.  The raw berry is said to be toxic but that is for the RED ELDERBERRY type but if you are concerned then cook your berries before using them or use them in tincture form only. 

Dried elderflowers have been used for making washes to treat blisters, hemorrhoids, arthritis, sores and rheumatism. 

The decocted inner bark was used topically by the Native Americans for dermatitis, skin ulcers and eczema.

It is interesting to note that the Shoshone indians referred to the Elder tree as a "tree of music" as they would make flutes from its stems.  It has also been referred to as the "tree of medicine" by several native american tribes.

There are several different recipes one could use with the Elderberry.  Some are purely cosmetic in nature, some are lovely for a hot afternoon and some are purely medcinal.  I have recipes for alot of different things using this amazing herb.  Please email me personally if you would like some of those.  In the meantime...this is an herb that is often overlooked by most.  I believe it is something that should be on everyone's herbal medicine shelf. 

Until next time...stay healthy and be happy!

P.S. The last photo is one of elderberries AFTER the first frost.
 Please find below some links regarding elderberries.

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