I am new to the elderberry and eager to put it to use. Blue in color, this little berry (or sambucus nigra) is packed with power. Commonly used in traditional European medicine, it is known for its sweet taste and often is used in baked goods, jams, preserves, wine and cordial. While it can be used for culinary reasons, the real prowess lies in its medicinal properties. Legendary herbalist Henry Box of Plymouth wrote,
" I have never known it to fail, even when given up to and at the point of death. It will not only save at the eleventh hour, but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless that you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain."
That is a rather bold and powerful assessment, Mr. Box! And while I don't plan on using it in cases of death (fingers crossed?) I do plan on using it this fall and winter! Herbs are incredibly powerful helpers because they work synergistically. They provide support not by offering a singular "treatment" but a host of properties that work together to bring our bodies back into balance. Our friend the elderberry is no exception.
- Generically : Decreases inflammation, stimulates the removal of toxins, astringent properties.
- Specifically . . .
- Helpful in the removal of excess mucous, opening the airways of our nose and throat. Particularly helpful when dealing with sinus, respiratory, and inner ear infection
- Useful in treating hay fever and asthma in stopping bronchio spasms
- Increases sweating, urination, and bowel movements (it is a MILD laxative, no need to freak out).
- In working as a MILD laxative, it can help clear stagnation (stagnation within the body is never a good thing. We want FLOW, both on an energetic level and physical level) in both the colon and kidneys
- Aids in the healing of wounds due to it's astringent properties (tightens and tones, similar to witch hazel)
- Helpful for those dealing with arthritis or gout pain due to it's anti-inflammatory properties
Great . . . now how does one use it?
From what I have learned via my super cool midwife friend and some of my own research, elderberry syrup is the way to go. You can most certainly buy one OR you can make your own, save money, and end up with a wonderful smelling kitchen in the process. If you enjoy baking, you can add dried elderberries to your baked goods (like you would with any other nut or fruit) but know that it is most effective in a concentrated form (ie syrup).
It can be taken as needed, when symptoms or sickness may flare up, however is can be (and should be) taken semi-regularly throughout the cooler times of year if you are looking to use it preventatively. The nice thing is, it's actually yummy. You won't be plugging your nose. In fact, my midwife says her little ones ASK for it.
This is my FIRST time making it. I am certainly no expert and plan on coming back with a report at the end of the season. But for now, if you are interested in giving it a try, here is what you will need (measurements need not be exact)
- Elderberries (I would at least start with 4oz)
- 1/4-1/2 C Raw Honey (light in color)
- Optional add in's . . .
- ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves (a couple pinches)
- fermented apple cider vinegar
- lemon Juice
1. Throw berries and any spices you would like to use in a sauce pan and cover with 4X as much water (if you are using 4oz of berries, you will need 16oz of water)
2. Bring to a boil. Cover with lid and allow mixture to simmer for 40 minutes
3. Remove from heat, remove lid, and allow to cool for a bit
4. Strain the berries from the juice (I used a cheesecloth but a much simpler route would to simply use a mesh strainer). Toss berries and keep juice.
5. Add to the remaining juice any of your add in's. Again, the measurements need not be exact BUT I used about . . . 1/4 C honey . . . 2 T ACV . . . Juice from a half a lemon
6. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a mason jar and allow to cool completely before adding a lid. That's it! Keep in the fridge.
- If taking preventatively . . . a small spoonful a day for kiddos and a big spoonful for adults
- If fighting a bug, go ahead and double the dosage, taking once in the morning and once in the evening