Common Elderberry or its biological nameSambucus nigra is a perennial fruit-bearing shrub that often reachs tree size. The name Sambucus is derived from the Greek sambuca which was a stringed instrument supposed to have been made from elder wood. Its other names are: just Elder or Elderberry, Black Elder, European Elder, European Elderberry, Elder Bush, Boor tree, Bountry, German Elder, Ellanwood, and Ellhorn. It belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family.
Elderberry is a deciduous shrub 4 to 6 m tall. It has large long (app. 20 cm) compound with five to nine leaflets green leaves, creamy white flowers that are borne in large corymbs and dark purple (or black) berries that are produced in huge clusters.
Elderberry grows in Europe, southwest Asia, North America and northwest Africa.
It can be found in open woods, moist, roadsides, weedy in disturbed areas in fields, in gardens.
Elderberry doesn’t very much likes warm climates, that’s why in southern part it is found in swamps and other cool places. It prefers rich rocky soils with ample moisture and may tolerate the shade.
The Inner Bark is be collected from young trees in autumn. When properly dried it has a light grey color and white and smooth on its inner side. It is without odor and sweetish and then bitter on taste.
Elderberry leaves can be used fresh or dried. For this purposes they are gathered in June and July.
Fresh flowers are used mainly in pharmacy; also they are often salted (as the flowering season only lasts for about three weeks in June). The flowers can be dried and used for different infusions. The dried flowers can also be steeped in water to make elderberry tea.
Berries are used fresh, mainly for uniquely rich wine. Also for fruit pies, muffins, and jams, when crushed is also used to make elderberry juice.
It is available on the market in forms of elderberry extract for promoting good health against the flu and colds during the winter season. In forms of flower powder and infusions for colds and flu, especially in combination with yarrow and mint; also to treat bronchial and upper respiratory disorders as well as hayfever. A cold infusion of the flowers or flower tinctures can be used as a compress for chilblains (the inflammation of the toes, feet, or fingers). In capsules elderberry is available for health concerns during winter season (as it is rich in vitamins and minerals) and can help to decrease the amount of toxins in body cells and to increase circulation and purify the blood.
Main chemical constituents of the Elderberry bark are soft resin, Viburnic acid, volatile oil, albumen, fat, wax, tannic acid, chlorophyll, extractive, starch, gum, pectin and various alkaline and earthy salts. Elder Leaves contain an alkaloid Sambucine, a purgative resin, hydrocyanic acid,cane sugar, invertin, and other constituents. The most important constituent of Elder Flowers is a trace of semisolid volatile oil and of Berries – its blue color making constituent (that is considerably used as an indication for alkalis).
Elderberry flowers and berries have useful flavonoids (including quercetin). Extract from leaves (combined with St. John’s wort and soapwort) is excellent for treating the influenza virus and herpes simplex virus. Extract from berries is an effective treatment for influenza. Berries also contain high concentrations of vitamins A and C and potassium (especially when compared with the same in other berries). Elderberry is believed to possess therapeutic uses an anti-inflammatory,immuno-stimulant and diuretic. Large amounts of vitamin C, flavenoids and rutin is famous for its central role in improving immune function of the body.
· Common cold (cold, sore throat)
· Influenza (flu)
· Herpes simplex
The bark of the Elderberry is a strong purgative, in large doses it is an emetic. An emollient ointment (from green inner bark) and a homoeopathic tincture (from fresh inner bark of the young branches) is used to relive asthmatic symptoms and spurious croup of children.
Ointment from leaves is a domestic remedy for bruises, sprains, chilblains, for use as an emollient, and for applying to wounds. Leaves are more nauseous purgative, also expectorant, diuretic and diaphoretic. The juice of Elder leaves is very effective for inflammation of the eyes, and 'stuffed nose'; and when between two hot tiles and applied to the forehead is very effective to treat nervous headache. Decoction of leaves is good for driving away flies and killing aphides and other insects. A tea made from the leaves and young shoots increases the production of urine and helps to eliminate excess water from the body. In proper dosages it can be used for urinary problems, kidney problems, rheumatic ailments, dropsy, edema, and constipation.
The tea of the flowers promotes perspiration and is gently laxative and aperient.It is a good oldfashioned remedy for colds and throat trouble. An excellent remedy during the first stage of influenza. Cold flower tea is also good for inflammation of the eyes. As a perfect blood purifier Elderberry flowers are taken for several weeks. A lotion from flowers are cooling, healing and soothing and good for different inflammation. A flower ointment is also good for wounds, burns and scalds.
Berries are famous for wine purposes. Elder Wine is one of the finest and unique beverages. Berries were held by our forefathers to be efficacious in rheumatism and erysipelas and have aperient, diuretic and emetic properties. Also a good laxative as it promotes all fluid secretions and natural evacuations. Elderberry juice is a wonderful as a cleanser and good as a tonic for the reproductive and glandular system.
Elderberry is not only a medicinal plant, but also a nice ornamental plant. Huge clusters of berries are looking really beautiful in some creative composition.
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