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It’s that time of year again. Kids are back in school, immune systems may be down and germs are spreading like crazy. I have a few stand-by herbs that I always turn to when I’m feeling sick or have been around sick people. Echinacea is my favorite herb to use when I feel a cold coming on but elder is a close second.
Elder is a short shrubby tree. It ranges from about 5 to 12 feet. The stems have small wart like bumps, with a slight purple tinge. The larger branches are smooth. The leaves have tiny ridges all the way around. The tiny creamy white flowers grow in large clutters and bloom from June to July depending on where you live. The blooms turn into small purplish/black berries. The elder likes moister climates but I’ve seen it thrive in droughts and drier climates as well.
The most familiar types of Elder in North America are Sambucus cabadensus (American) and S. nigra (Europe) (Caprifoliaceae). Common names are Elderberry, Black Elder, Common Elder, Pipe Tree and Bore Tree.
Elder is an amazing herb with many different uses. Each part actually has a different purpose. In the Middle Ages people used and revered every part of the plant. Now the most common part used is the berry. Flowers and leaves may be used as well. The bark was once used but is now thought to have too drastic of an effect on people. Depending on what you read you may see them used, I would not advise doing so.
What is Elder Good For?
- Immune Boosting
How do I use it?
Elderberries can be used in a verity of ways. My grandma used to make the best elderberry jelly. In days gone by it was common to make elderberry wine. Hum, I might have to try that sometime. The most widely known use for elderberries is to make them into medicinal syrup. Only use black elderberries, when green the berries are potentially toxic. Caution should also be used when eating the berries raw. Elderberries contain a bitter alkaloid and glycoside that may change into cyanide; for this reason casino online it is always best to cook them.
What makes elderberries so great is their immune boosting properties. If you start taking elderberry as soon as you first start feeling sick it will help wipe out the illness in no time.
Forget getting the flu shot, take elderberry syrup instead. According to Prescription for Herbal Healing, “a clinical study of elderberry found that it cured 90 percent of flu infections within seventy-two hours. In the same trial, patients receiving a placebo needed six days.”
You can spend up to $15 for 4oz if you buy it or you can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost!
Do you want to learn to make your own? Elderberry Syrup is obviously a well used remedy by MAH writers; you have a few different versions to choose from. I”m sharing one version with you today.
2 cups fresh elderberries, 1 cup dried
¼ cup fresh, grated ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup cloves
4 cups water
1 cup raw honey
Simmer in a pot for two hours. Strain through a colander lined with a cheesecloth, Twist the cloth and squeeze to get all the precious liquid out.
Return to the saucepan and heat until warm. Turn off the burner; pour in the raw honey, stirring gently until dissolved.
Store in quart jar in the fridge. It should be good for at least three months.
Children: 1 tsp every hour
Adults: 1 TBS every hour
As a daily booster during cold season:
Children: 1 tsp once a day
Adults: 1 TBS once a day
Elder flowers are best used when made into an herbal infusion. Drinking a cup of warm elderflower infusion can be used to reduce fevers, relieve allergies, constipation and rheumatism. For every cup of water use 1 to 2 tsp of dried elderflower, for fresh 2 to 4 tsp. Add to a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. You can drink it up to 4 times a day, for children give them 1/2 a cup and babies 1/4 a cup.
Elder leaves can be used to make a salve. Plants that combine well with the leaves are plantain leaves, St. John’s Worth and wormwood. I have never made a salve with elder leaves; I just know that it can be done.
Do you need more inspiration for using elder? Try these ideas?
Do you have any favorite elder remedies?