Elderberry (sambucus spp)
The benefits of elder are numerous and becoming more well known. As one of the best researched herbs for immunity, it’s gaining popularity is not surprising. Used medicinaly since at least the time of the Romans, it’s most commonly used parts (its berries and flowers) are alterative, emmolient, demulcent, diaphoretic, expectorant and laxative.
Its flowers, which are full of flavonoids, are anti inflammatory, making them a great help to those with seasonal allergies. Their diaphoretic property also makes them helpful as an aid to sweat out a fever. It’s berries make a most delicious syrup and are also high in flavonoids and antioxidants. They work as an antiviral and immune system modulator. Research has shown elderberry to directly inhibit the flu virus from replicating in cells by inhibiting spike protein function.
The flowers are primarily used as a tea, but also make a good cordial or infused honey. Elderberry is often found in syrup form but is effective in many preparations including but not limited to tincture, elixir, succus, tea or juice.
Contraindications: Raw berries can cause gastric upset. Elder leaves, twigs, branches, seeds, and roots contain cyanide-inducing glycosides, and ingesting these parts of the plant in large quantities can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body.
Kavasch, E. Barrie. “Ethnobotany of Elderberry,” The Herb Society of America’s Essential Guide to Elderberry, 2013.
Millet J.K., Séron K., Labitt R.N., Danneels A., Palmer K.E., Whittaker G.R. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection is inhibited by griffithsin. Antiviral Res. 2016 Sep;133:1–8.
Bergner, Paul. “Sambucus: Elderberry,” Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy, 2001.