*This photo was used via the Creative Commons licensing. Credit goes to SteveP2008 on flikr. ;)
I’m a big believer in using foods and natural supplements to help not only keep yourself healthy, but to deal with sickness when you do find it lurking in your home. I know that eating healthy will get you a long way but I admittedly haven’t ventured into the world of essential oils or herbs near as much. I have a few basic oils such as tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and sweet orange, but I wouldn’t be the person you want to run to for in depth knowledge about it, ya know? When it comes to actually getting ill, the first thing people in my family will say is to talk to my aunt because she know “there’s an herb for that”. As much as they make it into a small joke, I’ve really become interested in learning a little more from her on the subject.
Lucky for us, she’s agreed to be a contributing writer on occasion and is kicking it off by telling us the secrets of elderberry.
Well, as we all know it’s cold/flu season. It is always a concern this time of year, trying to dodge all the viruses that seem to run ramped. My family, however, has not had to worry quite as much the past few years since we learned about a wonderful little herb called Elderberry. I know that some people do not believe in using herbs and others do to a certain extent. I, on the other hand, am one who definitely LOVES herbs!! I know one has to be careful when taking herbs for medicinal purposes, as with any kind of medication. I would like to tell you of this wonderful little herb that is perfect for this time of the year. Elderberry can be purchased from your local herbacy / health food store or online (Vitacost is a great place online and they carry many different brands too). Elderberry ‘Sambucus nigra’ contains naturally occurring antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic compounds. It helps to control and kill the cold and flu viruses. The flowers and berries are the two used the most. They can be dried and used in tea to increase circulation and cause sweating, helping to eliminate toxins and bring down fevers.
Elderberry syrup is also well known for quieting a cough. There is a product that Quantum Health makes, I bought at my local herbacy, that has Elderberry, Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Mullein that works like a dream!!! 1 teaspoon of this syrup, your cough is done and you sleep through the night. Elderberry is also safe for our little ones too.
When harvesting your own, it’s very important to remember do not harvest the berries before they turn black. The seeds in the berries, when red, are said to be toxic. Usually, people do not eat the berries, they are harvested (after they ripen, when black) and made into wine, jam, or dried. The flowers are also dried for tea or can be used externally. And here’s one for us “older” ladies, Elderflower tea drank cold is said to help with hot flashes and night sweats. It also makes for a nice face wash. I use dried Elderflowers in my face moisturizer too. The leaves are used externally as an ointment for bruises and sprains.
Elderberry has no known side effects, and does not interfere with other herbs or medication. So as one can see, this is a Mighty little herb bush that deserves much more recognition than it currently receives. I hope this helps someone that may be looking for a medicinal alternative and had not heard of Elderberry and its great properties.