Sambucus nigra (elder plant) is commonly found growing in hedgerows and woodlands in Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia. It has white flowers, leaves, and blue-black berries.
Both the flowers (elderflowers) and berries (elderberries) of the elder plant are used as medicine. Elderberries are the dark purple berries from the elder plant. Don’t confuse them with Dwarf Elder, Elderflower, or American Elder.
Elderberries are cultivated for food and medicinal purposes and are used to make tea, jelly, jam, medicinal syrup, capsules, lozenges, and gummies. They contain anthocyanins, phenolic acids, rutin, kaempferol, and quercetin. They also possess anthocyanidins that act as immuno-boosters, and flavonoids that have antioxidant properties that may help prevent cellular damage.
Raw elderberries contain 80% water, 18% carbohydrates, and less than 1% each of fat and protein. They are rich in potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, among other essential nutrients.
Elderberries have long been used to reduce blood sugar, protect against infection and bacteria, boost the immune system, help with weight loss, relieve allergies, decrease inflammation, or even slow down the spread of cancer. They have also been used to treat toothache, constipation, chronic fatigue, cuts, burns, fever, sinus infections, colds, and the flu.
Elderberry Health Benefits
– General immune system booster and cold and flu remedy
Elderberries are high in flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins that are responsible for their dark purple coloring. These antioxidants keep the immune system resilient and strong. They stimulate the production of proteins called cytokines that act as messengers within the immune system –– thereby improving the body’s immune response.
Elderberries are a great general immune system booster. Elderberry extract may act as a safe and effective treatment for both common colds and the flu.
A 2016 study published in Nutrients suggested that taking an elderberry supplement could lower the duration and severity of cold symptoms.
In another study, one group of participants received 4 doses of 175 mg proprietary elderberry extract, whereas the other group received placebo on a daily basis for 2 days. The participants who received elderberry extract had greater improvement in their flu symptoms compared to those that received placebo.
– Sinus infection aid
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of elderberries make them an effective sinus infection remedy.
A study carried out by the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Switzerland tested the effectiveness of a proprietary product called Sinupret in sinus infection treatment.
Sinupret was used to treat bacterial sinusitis along with a decongestant and an antibiotic (vibramycin or doxycycline). The participants that received the combination had greater improvement in their symptoms than those that didn’t receive Sinupret.
– Cystitis, urinary tract and bladder infection remedy
Urinary tract infections, bladder infections and cystitis lead to a constant urge to urinate, accompanied by a burning sensation.
But, elderberry tea may bring great relief from this debilitating condition, because it acts as a natural diuretic. It can cause the kidneys to continually flush out toxins, including bacteria. It can help flush out the bacteria that lead to cystitis, keeping the infection from spreading to the kidneys and bladder. It may also help lower its duration.
Elderberry tea’s anti-inflammatory properties may help decrease inflammation, potentially lowering the pain and burning sensation.
– Natural laxative
Even though most vegetables and fruits can help us hit our fiber goals for the day, few fruits can boast more than 40 percent of our daily requirements for fiber in one serving. Elderberries possess dietary fiber that may help lower excess gas, relieve constipation, and generally improve gastrointestinal health. Fiber may also help elevate the nutrient uptake efficiency in the gut so we can get more out of our food!
A small, randomized trial examined the effectiveness of an elderberry-based remedy in the treatment of constipation. The researchers found that the elderberry-based remedy acted as a natural laxative and provided significant constipation relief.
– Skin care remedy
Elderberries are used in various cosmetic products, because the antioxidants and bioflavonoids found in elderberries play an important role in enhancing skin health. The high vitamin A content coupled with powerful antioxidants make elderberries ideal for preventing or reducing wrinkles, lowering age spots, and gradually improving skin tone.
You can buy elderberry in many forms online or at your local health store. You can also make your own homemade elderberry syrup to alleviate the symptoms of cold, flu, and upper respiratory tract infections.
DIY Elderberry Syrup
– A cup of raw honey
– A cinnamon stick or a tsp. of cinnamon powder (organic)
– A tbsp. of dried or fresh ginger root (organic)
– 2 cups of dried elderberries (organic)
– 3.5 cups of cold water
Pour the water into a saucepan and then add the cinnamon, ginger and elderberries.
Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover it and let it simmer for forty-five to sixty minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Mash the elderberries carefully with a spoon or other flat utensil.
Pour through a strainer into a glass jar.
Add the honey and stir it well.
Store it in the fridge and take 1 tbsp. of the syrup a few times a day until your symptoms disappear.
But, you should consult your doctor before taking the remedy.