Scientists have discovered that elderberry has been known to man since the prehistoric era, and elderberry recipes were commonly used as natural medicines in ancient Egypt.
Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” from ancient Greece depicted it as his “medicine chest” because of its numerous health benefits.
The elderberry juice has been used as hair dye by the Romans, and the wood of the elderberry tree has been used to make combs, toys, pegs for shoemakers, needles for weaving musical instruments, and skewers for butchers. The Native Americans used this plant as a natural cure, body paint, ink, for jewelry and musical instruments, hunting whistles, and much more.
During the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government used it as a natural way to fight the flu, and it reduced its severity and thus helped to end the epidemic.
Elderberry is native to Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia. Sambucus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae, and the berries and flowers are powerful natural medicines. The plant has deciduous leaves, white flowers (elderflowers) and berries that turn from green to red to black as they ripen.
Other common names for Sambucus nigra are European elder, European elderberry, black elder, and European black elderberry. The flowers contain 0.3 percent of an essential oil composed of free fatty acids and alkanes, and the fruit contains rutin, quercetin, kaempferol, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins. Elderberry is also high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that prevent cellular damages, as well as anthocyanidins, chemical compounds which have immunostimulant effects.
Elderberries are rich in iron and potassium, vitamins A, C, B6, and other nutrients. The raw berries are made up of 80 percent water, 18 percent carbohydrates, and less than 1 percent each of protein and fat.
According to Christine Ruggeri, CHHC:
“Elderberry has a long, rich history of use for medicinal benefits by numerous cultures. It fights infections including influenza, herpes, viral infections, and bacterial infections. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that elderberry can be used as a safe treatment for influenza A and B.
This is due to its efficacy on all strains of influenza virus that were tested, the clinical results, its low cost and the absence of side effects. Most every part of the elderberry can be used — the flowers, bark, roots, and leaves are often used for their amazing health benefits.”
This amazing plant is richer in flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries, and here are some of its health benefits:
1. Cold and Flu Relief
Elderberries boost the immune system, due to the presence of chemical compounds known as anthocyanidins, which have potent immunostimulant effects. Elderberry extract is one of the safest and most powerful treatments for both cold and flu symptoms.
Scientists have conducted numerous studies which have confirmed the strong effects of the elderberry extract in the treatment and control of influenza symptoms.
According to Pharmacy Times:
“In one placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted by Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, 93.3% of the people taking an elderberry preparation reported significant improvement in influenza symptoms within 2 days of starting it, compared with the 6 days it took for the placebo group to see improvement.
In another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed in Norway, researchers gave either a placebo syrup or elderberry syrup to patients who reported having flu-like symptoms for less than 48 hours.
The results were similar to Dr. Mumcuoglu’s results. On average, the patients who received the elderberry syrup saw relief of symptoms 4 days earlier than the group that received the placebo syrup. As an added benefit, the patients in the elderberry syrup group reported taking significantly fewer over-the-counter medications in hopes of symptom relief.
Researchers also have found that people who have taken elderberries have higher levels of antibodies against the influenza virus, showing that not only may the berry be able to treat flu symptoms, it may also be able to prevent influenza infection.”
2. Sinus Infection Aid
The strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help sinus issues in a natural way. Swiss scientists have evaluated the effects of a proprietary product, Sinupret, which contains elderberry flowers, in the treatment of bacterial sinusitis in a combination with an antibiotic (doxycycline or Vibramycin) and a decongestant, and found that it boosted the effects of the medications.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar
The berry and the flower have been used as a diabetes cure for centuries. The elderflower extract has been found to stimulate glucose metabolism and the secretion of insulin, and thus decreases blood sugar levels.
4. Eases Allergies
The flowers of the elder plant are a powerful herbal allergy remedy, as this plant fortifies the immune system, and soothes inflammation. It cleanses the liver and eliminates toxins as well, and herbalists claim that it also treats hay fever-like symptoms.
5. Natural Diuretic
This plant has powerful diuretic properties, so it effectively fights water retention.
6. Natural Laxative
Elderberry fights constipation, since it acts as a natural laxative, and stimulates healthy bowel movements.
7. Encourages Healthy Skin
Elderberry is often added to numerous cosmetic products, as it is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, and bioflavonoids, that improve the healthy appearance of the skin, prevent premature aging and provide a healthy skin glow.
You can buy elderberry online or in the nearest local health store. You can consume it in the form of juice, tea, jelly and jams, wine, in ointments, as powder, syrups, pills, lozenges, sprays, and capsules.
The elderberry syrup is the best way to treat the flu, colds, and upper respiratory issues, so here is how to prepare it:
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
- 2 cups organic dried elderberries
- 1 tablespoon fresh or dried organic ginger root
- 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder or 1 cinnamon stick
- 3.5 cups cold water
- 1 cup raw honey
In a saucepan, pour the water, and add the elderberries, cinnamon, and ginger. Boil the syrup, lower the heat, and leave to simmer for 45 minutes, covered. Then, remove the saucepan from heat, mash the berries, and strain through a strainer or cheesecloth into a glass bowl. Sweeten with honey, and pour the syrup in a sterilized glass container.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS says:
“This herb can deactivate the flu virus and naturally boost immunity. The flowers and berries of elderberry are said to boost the immune system, treat flu and relieve sinus pain.
Elderberry attacks flu viruses and reduces bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study found that when 15 milliliters of elderberry syrup was taken four times daily for a five-day period, it relieved symptoms of influenza an average of four days earlier than those taking a placebo. “
You can also drink elderberry tea by adding a tablespoon of dried berries or flowers to eight ounces of water.
Note that the ripe, cooked berries of most of the Sambucus species are edible, but do not consume them raw, as they contain a cyanide-inducing chemical.
Sometimes, the elderflowers and elderberries cause allergic reactions, so discontinue their use if you notice a mild reaction. You should also not use them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
People suffering from an autoimmune disease, those with organ transplants, or individuals taking diuretics, diabetes medications, laxatives, immune-suppressing drugs, or undergoing chemotherapy, should not take elderberry.