Throughout history the Elder tree has been considered one of natures greatest healing plants and has
been used in many formulas for colds and flu, catarrh, skin conditions, and rheumatism. The flowers and the berries are most often used in medicine, but the bark and the leaves can be used as well, giving the Elder tree the name of natures medicine chest. The late Summer and early Fall is the best time to wild harvest the berries and the Spring for the flowers. You can also find dried flowers and berries at your local apothecary or order them online. A syrup of the berries are used for the proanthocyandins, flavanoids and polysaccharides extracted which are antiviral and immune supportive. The flowers are used most often as a hot tea or glycerite extraction for their ability to induce a fever and are ideal for colds and flu's, and any runny nose. You read that right, we want the body to have a fever because this is what kills the microbes causing the illness. In most cases I don't recommend suppressing a fever.
A 2011 research article looked at the antimicrobial activity of elderberry liquid extract at varying
concentrations, 5%-20%. The article assessed the extracts effectiveness against S. pyogenes, group C and G Streptococci, and B. catarrhalis isolated from patients as well as influenza strain A (KAN-1, H5N1) and strain B (B/Mass). The experiment showed effectiveness at as little as a 5% extract concentration, with less than 1% growth from originally measured values at a 20% concentration against the bacteria and the viruses tested. These results are promising for an antibacterial alternative during the flu as bacterial pneumonia infection
following influenza infection is a concern, and antibacterial pharmaceuticals are often prescribed. (Krawitz et al., 2011)
ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPE
- 0.4oz Sambucus nigra, Elder berries (dried) - Immune stimulant, anti-microbial
- 0.4oz Astragalus membranaceus, Astragalus (dried) - Immune stimulant
- 0.2oz Citrus sinensis, Orange peel (dried) - Anti-microbial, nutritive, corrigent
- 0.2oz Sambucus nigra, Elder flowers (dried) - Expectorant, relaxing diaphoretic, diuretic, alterative, soothing nervine, mild laxative
- Sterile glass jar and lid
- 1 quart sauce pan
- Scale to weigh herbs
- 2 cup pyrex measuring cup
- Raw local honey
Using a scale weigh out the herbs. In a sauce pan add 2 cups of cold water and the elder berries, astragalus and orange peel; bring to a boil and reduce heat until the liquid simmers. Decoct until the liquid reduces to half of the volume. Remove from the heat and add the elder flowers for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs, leaving about 1 cup of liquid, add 1 cup of honey and mix thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator.
Copyright by Dr. Jessica Bernardy - 2013
- Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16
- Tierra, L., & Tierra, L. (2003). Healing with the herbs of life. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.
- Tilgner, S. (1999). Herbal medicine: From the heart of the earth. Creswell, OR: Wise Acres.