Last year (2019) I had a horrible upper respiratory/sinus infection. I ended up losing some hearing, got pink eye and it took its toll on my energy levels.
I vowed this year that I would not be susceptible again. So my research began. Generally, when starting to feel ill I go to the refrigerator and start chopping up garlic. Garlic is a good anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb which covers colds and flu. In my research I discovered that elderberry is also an anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb treatment. So, when winter came along this year, I began to add some elderberry to my daily health routine. As you can see from the picture, I use both elderberry crystals and syrup. With the crystals, I mix them with a low sugar content fruit liquid/juice. Once I tried just water and found it to be pretty unpleasant.
Subsequently, with the COVID 19 outbreak I have learned that the possibility exists that elderberry could provide a boost to our immune system against this upper respiratory virus as well. Needless to say, even thought it is now spring, I have continued including elderberry in my health regiment. Once this pandemic subsides, I will take a break from this daily routine as a healing herb is not meant to be taken indefinitely.
I plan to plant at least one elderberry bush to begin to make my own syrup or wine! Beyond the healing aspect, traditional food uses for this herb are jellies and preserves. I also saw a recipe for an elderbery skin lotion. At the conclusion of this article are sources for more information and some recipes.
So what is an elder bush?
It is a hardy, deciduous shrubby tree which can grow to 12 ft tall and 12 ft wide. It has cream colored, fragrant flowers and dark berries. It will grow best in moist, loamy soil in the sun. It will flower in late spring with fruits available in early autumn.
Depending upon the need, herbalists will primarily use three parts of the elder bush – leaves, flowers, berries. The core benefits as noted in publications researched include: inhibits viruses, soothes nerves and supports skin. (A 2018 research study that I saw by Julia Wermig-Morgan at Oxford listed the following citation: Wermig-Morgan, Julia. (2020). Elderberry is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and modulates the immune system: anti-bacterial, anti-viral and immunomodulatory non-clinical (in-vitro) effects of elderberry fruit and flowers (Sambucus nigra): a systematic review.)
Below are three sources should you want to begin to investigate elderberry on your own.
Lesley Bremness – Essential Guide to Herbs Watkins, 2019 p 106
Chown, Victory and Kim Walker, The Herbal Remedy Handbook Hatchetter UK Company, 2019 p 111
Kuhn, Merrily A. and David Winston Herbal Therapy and Supplements, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008, P175