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Elderberry Sambucus Nigra



It’s the time of year that we start to see the Elderberry trees overflowing with beautiful clusters of flowers, which then transform into the lovely dark globe shaped berries.  We often walk past these trees, dripping in fruit, and don’t give a thought to their role.

It has numerous names too; Aeldrum, Black Elder, Boor Tree, Bountry, Elder, Ellanwood, Ellhorn, European Elder, and German Elder.

And it has many uses:

Elderberry jam or jelly holds many minerals & vitamins; particularly vitamin B17. Its flower provides a good source of potassium plus viburnic acid (beneficial for asthma and bronchitis), vitamin A, vitamin C, and bio-flavonoids. Ripened elderberries can be used like some other berries in fruit pies, muffins, and jams. The dried flowers can also be steeped in water to prepare elderberry tea and the berries mashed to make elderberry juice. Elderberry helps to boost and maintain the immune & respiratory systems. Elderberry may be used to cure colds and flu.

The medicinal benefits of Elderberry are being researched.  The bio-flavonoids in the juice are known to lower cholesterol, boost immunity and help prevent colds and coughs.  It has also been purported to help fight bacterial and viral infections eg. Tonsillitis.  An example of this is Elderberry Juice being used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in the mid 90s. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, so makes a lovely drink for arthritis sufferers. 

Beneficial components in Elderberries

Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitamin A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries. According to test tube studies these flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.

Noted Health Benefits of elderberries

Elderberries were listed in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as early as 1985, and are listed in the 2000 Mosby's Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion, and hay fever.  In Israel, Hasassah's Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body's immune system and they are treating cancer and AIDS patients with it. The wide range of medical benefits (from flu and colds to debilitating asthma, diabetes, and weight loss) is probably due to the enhancement of each individual's immune system.
At the Bundesforschungsanstalt research center for food in Karlsruhe, Germany, scientists conducting studies on Elderberry showed that anthocyanins found in elderberries possess appreciably more antioxidant capacity than either vitamin E or vitamin C.

Studies at Austria's University of Graz found that elderberry extract reduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is implicated in atherogenesis, thus contributing to cardiovascular disease.

Resources: 1. J Alt Compl Mod 1995: 1:361-69 2. Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress. Free Radical Biol Med 2000: 29:51 60


• Astringent.
• Immuno-stimulant.
• Emetic.
• Expectorant.
• Diaphoretic.
• Laxative.
• Diuretic.
• Sedative.
• Anti-inflammatory. 

Produced by Victoria Shorland, Consultant Nutritionist, Clinic Rooms, 2 Standard Quay, Faversham, Kent, 07789512825,

Here is a link here to a lovely cordial recipe

Lucy Guthrie


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