Sunday, January 4, 2015

What You Need to Know About Elderberries

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry, with the scientific name of  Sambucus Nigra, is known by many names --- sweet elder, common elder, or Sambucol. It is a shrub that is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, but has grown abundantly in the United States, particularly  North America. The US elder grows to 4 meters as compared to its European cousin, that grows up to 10 meters. The tree with a light brown to grayish bark, have deciduous leaves that grow opposite each other. It has clusters of white fragrant flowers that turn into berries. The berries change in color from green to black/dark purple when ripe and ready for picking.

Elderberry has been used since ancient times as traditional medicine and food additive. Folk medicine claims that various parts of the plant can cure certain ailments. The flowers are said to have diuretic and laxative properties. Other parts of the plant are used for the treatment of a number of disorders, including cancer. The flower, when placed in distilled water, can help cure skin ailments. It can also be used as food enhancer - to flavor alcoholic drinks and as a fruit wine.

Sambucus nigra is edible when cooked properly and picked ripe. The entire fruit can be eaten raw when ripe. The other parts of the plant, however, are poisonous. Though non-toxic, it is still advisable to cook the Elderberries to make it more palatable and edible.

How to take Elderberry?

Elderberry can be taken in several forms: as tea drink, syrup, tincture, capsule and in lozenge form, The dosage is standardized to 0.8 percent for dried elder flower used as flavonoids, 38 percent and 19 percent for elderberry extract used by adults and children, respectively. The use of elderberry in treating body ailments began in ancient times. However, unsupervised ingestion may have contra-indications and proved harmful if the advice of a health care professional is not sought. There are few known side effects if taken for short periods of time, like five days or less. Nonetheless, it is not recommended for lactating or pregnant women; and people with autoimmune disorders without first seeking medical advice.

Health Benefits of Elderberries

The 1985 CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs listed Elderberries in the 2000 Mosby's Nursing Drug Journal as a cure for various respiratory ailments, flu, and Hay Fever. The Hasassah Oncology Laboratory in Israel came out with researches that Elderberries can be used in the treatment of cancer and AIDS since it enhances the body's immune system. In Israel's Hasassah's Oncology Lab, have the same finding and are using the berries in treating cancer and AIDS patient. This outcome has also been replicated in research centers in Germany and in Austria,  where they found out that Elderberries can also be used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Photo credits:


Elderberry: Supplement Information from WebMD
Elderberru: Uses, Side Effects and Warnings from WebMD
Elderberry Benefits and Information by herbwisdom


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