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Herbal Properties of Elder (Including Elderberries & Elderflowers)

Elder is probably one of the most famous and popular herbs on the market today, as it’s grown successfully in a variety of habitats and soil types. Botanically known as Sambuca spp, Elder has a long, interesting history. Many parts of the plants can be used in herbal preparations, thanks to the broad range of properties of Elder. 

The most common variety in the USA is Sambuca nigra, or common black elderberry, and grows no taller than about 30 feet. It is well known for its small, blackish-purple fruit. When looking at other genus species of this amazing tree, it’s easy to find varieties all over North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We can even plant and grow Elder here in Arizona too! 

Historically the uses of the Elder tree dates back a few millennia, long before Hippocrates wrote about it. This plant makes wonderful foods, medicine, and tools. The purple fruits can be made into syrups, jams, jellies, and even wine. The flowers can be dried and used as tea. The leaves are an issue though, as they don’t dry well and often mildew, turn black, and become unusable. 

The Medicinal Properties of Elder

Imagine a tasty fruit that is easy to find, simple to harvest, and safe to use… You’re thinking of Elder! It’s no wonder that seventeenth-century herbalist John Evelyn called it “a remedy against all infirmities what-so-ever!”

When it comes to the medicinal properties of Elder, the berries are filled with phytonutrients. These nutrients help ward off infections and modulate inflammation. A good thing to have if you’re looking to stop, or shorten, the duration of cold and flus. 

Elderberries and elderflowers have long been used by herbalists and families alike. In today’s world, some argue that elderberries are dangerous, but fortunately we have many studies (dating back decades) confirming just how powerful and diverse its uses are. One time in 2020, someone warned me against making elderberry syrup for my pancakes…and said that I should switch to Log Cabin, since it’s been around since the 1800s. But…I’ll take my far more ancient berries over a high sugar non-medicinal syrup brand! 

What Can Elder Do for Our Bodies?

Sometimes, the properties of Elder are simplified to “just an antiviral.” But, it’s so much more than that! Here is a broad list of all the possible effects Elder can have on our beautiful bodies.

  • Alterative: Cleansing, stimulating efficient removal of waste products
  • Anti-inflammatory: Diminishes inflammation or its effects
  • Antioxidant: Prevents free radicals or oxidative damage to the body
  • Antiviral: Opposing the action of a virus
  • Diaphoretic (mild): Causes perspiration and increases elimination through the skin
  • Immunomodulating: Assists the body’s immune response

Over the years I have used elder berries and flowers for a variety of conditions. Some of these are best remedied with the berries, others with the flowers. 

  • Asthmas & allergies
  • Coughs, cold & flu
  • Bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Fevers
  • Detoxification
  • Full body inflammation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Acute & chronic viral infections

Elder is a wonderful tree…but don’t get crazy with it, or really any herb! And always remember that our diets play a huge role in our health and should be our starting point. Think nutrient density, fiber, water and physical exercise.

We all have different stories and needs, so if you have questions or health issues, check with your ND, Herbalist, or practitioner about using Elder (or any other herbs you’re unsure of). You can always book a consultation with me right here

How to Get Elder’s Benefits Into Your Life

Elder is such a diverse and amazing plant, so there are many products in my Apothecary to help you get its benefits into your body and life! Try these out. 

Sweet Elderberry Wine: This alcohol-free wine is a delicious alternative to night-drinking. Make it just like a tea, and sip away (hot or cold) to relax and restore. Get it here

Elderberry Goodness Herbal Tea: Want a fruity tea that helps you maintain ideal immune health? This should be your go to! Pick some up here

DIY Elderberry Elixir Syrup: Take a few spoonfuls of this syrup each day during cold and flu season…or use it once you’ve caught something to get rid of it faster! Get the kit here.

Elderberry Tincture: If all those amazing properties of Elder are something you want in your life, get the potent tincture of the berries right here

Cold & Flu Herbal Tea: This tea is perfect for warding off both bacterial and viral infections! It’s also soothing and spicy, with some peppermint and ginger. Get some here

Stay Well Herbal Tea: This tea mixes both elderflower and elderberries for a delicious immune-boosting cocktail! Find it here.

Of course, there are way more items in my shop that hold the magic of Elder…so check them all out right here


*For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (Because why would we want to do that?)

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