Elder (Sambucus nigra) is commonly called Black or European Elder. The flowers and berries have a long history of use throughout the Western world as food and for its health benefits. In antiquity, the flowers were prized for cosmetic applications. Considered a plant of protection in the Middle Ages, the branches of this prolific, deciduous shrub were commonly placed above a doorway or threshold of a home to ward off evil spirits and protect the inhabitants. Elder was written about by historic healers such as Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, and Hippocrates, and is still mentioned in many European pharmacopeias today.
Recipes abound for a variety of ways to use elder, including the delicious beverage, "Elderflower Fizz," which is easily made at home from fresh or dried blossoms. The mildly flavored flowers are common ingredients in other liqueurs, tisanes (teas), and tinctures. They can also be added to muffins, breads, pancakes, or other baked goods. The fresh flowers have a white umbel head cluster that is harvested in late spring or early summer at the peak of their bloom. A distilled hydrosol of the flowers, or a simple herbal tea, is often employed as a skin tonic and was used in the 1800s to lighten and even skin tone. It has slightly astringent, tonic, and skin conditioning effects per today's European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate.
Elderflower is known to support the body's natural fever response, soothe the skin, as an expectorant, and soothe digestive discomforts and more.
The deep-purple fruits are rich in protective and antioxidant anthocyanins, and can help support healthy recovery time after physical exertion. These berries are specifically employed to support the body's natural immune response, soothe discomforts associated with colds and flu, promote healthy blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health. They have been well studied for its ability to support the immune system, a healthy inflammatory response, and more with numerous clinical research data published. The berries are used to make lozenges, cordials, wine, teas, and other food products. Syrup preparations and glycerite tinctures are delicious and safe for children, and are so tasty that children willingly take them without complaint.
Elder is often cultivated as an ornamental shrub with numerous cultivars available at most nurseries. The flowers and berries should never be eaten fresh; they contain a mildly toxic alkaloid that is destroyed with cooking. The Commission E Monographs list elder flower as safe and nontoxic, with no known drug interactions, restrictions, contraindications or drug interactions. The berry is considered a food.
Some of Our Products Containing Elderberry and Elderflower: