Free Herbal Information Via Email
Elder (canadensis) , also known as Elderberry, is a small tree that grows to
around 10 feet and is native to North America. The European variety grows to
25 feet and is found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa. The tree has been called "the medicine chest of the common people.
The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for hundreds of years. The fruits have been used to make wine, and when cooked, can be used in pies and jams. The berries contain more vitamin C than any other herb except rosehips and black currant.
The herb also has a rich background of superstitions. In the Middle Ages, legend says that the tree was home to witches, and that cutting down one would bring on the wrath of those living in the branches.
The Russians and the English believe that the trees ward off evil spirits and it was considered good luck to plant a tree near your home. Sicilians think that sticks of the wood can kill serpents and drive away thieves.
Egyptians discovered that applying its flowers improved the complexion and healed burns. Many early Indian tribes used it in teas and other beverages. The British frequently drank home made wine and cordials that was thought to prolong life and cure the common cold.
The berries from contain a large amount of vitamins A, B and C, as well as flavonoids, sugar, tannins, carotenoids and amino acids. Warmed wine is a remedy for sore throat, influenza and induces perspiration to reverse the effects of a chill. The juice from the berries is an old fashioned cure for colds, and is also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis.
Infusions of the fruit are beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. Raw berries have laxative and diuretic properties, however the seeds are toxic and may induce vomiting and nausea.
The leaves contain the flavonoids rutin and quercertin, alkaloids, vitamin C and sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside. Fresh leaves also contain hydrocyanic acid, cane sugar, invertin, betulin, free fatty acids, and a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate.
The flowers are a mild astringent and are used in skin washes to refine the complexion and help relieve eczema, acne and psoriasis. Flower water makes a soothing gargle and when strained makes an excellent eye wash.
The leaves and flowers are a common ingredient in ointments and poultices for burns and scalds, swelling, cuts and scrapes. Infusions and preparations with the blossoms combined with other herbs have also been used to quicken recovery form the common cold and flu.
Parts Used: Bark, leaves, flowers, berries.
Common Use: Topically for infections, inflammations and swelling. As a wash for skin healing and complexion purification. As a tea and cordial to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress. Cooked and used in jams and conserves.
Care: Prefers sandy or loamy soil rich in humus and nitrogen. Full sun or partial shade.
Click here to enter