Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Elderberry (Sambucus) is native to regions where there is temperate to subtropical climates in both the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere where it is found in Australasia and South America.
The leaves of the Elderberry are pinnate and are long and green. It has large clusters of small white flowers that grow into clusters of black and red berries. There are many subspecies of the Elderberry and they are found in different places all around the world.
The Elderberry berry is used primarily as a food, with extracts of the Elderberry being made into syrups to flavor drinks and also to make pancake syrup.
History and Origin
The black Elderberry berry has been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries now and it has been called by many other names. The Elderberry berry is cooked before it is consumed since it contains a chemical quite similar to the properties of cyanide when raw or uncooked.
During ancient times, the Elderberry has been used as a poultice to treat superficial wounds, skin irritations, burns and cuts. It was also used as a medicine for colds and the flu when taken internally. It was also used to relieve nasal congestion.
Elderberry berry is known to relieve many illnesses, such as colds and the flu, since it has properties that can loosen mucus and loosen sinuses. There have been studies regarding the ability of the Elderberry berry in shortening the duration of the flu for about 3 days. There is also ongoing research regarding the effectiveness of Elderberry in the treatment and cure of the H1N1 virus.
Elderberry berry is also an effective diuretic. It is also seen to lower blood sugar levels and can benefit diabetics as well. This herbal remedy also has laxative effects that can relieve constipation and also ease many illnesses of the gastrointestinal system. Elderberry berry is known to stimulate the immune system and can interact with immunosuppresants.
Aside from medicinal and herbal properties, the Elderberry berry is a known ingredient in many food stuffs. It is one of the basic ingredients in soft drinks (such as Fanta Shokata that is quite popular in India) and also as an added ingredient in pancake syrups instead of using blueberries. There are also Elderberry berry marshmallows and a French liqueur made form Elderberries as well. Elderberry berry is also made into wine and marmalade. Elderberry berry is available in dietary supplements such as capsules, syrups, lozenges and also as tinctures.
It is very important to note that Elderberries are poisonous when eaten raw. Ripe berries (pulp and the skin of the berries) are safe to eat however. Most of the plant’s parts have a cyanide producing glycoside that can cause a buildup of cyanide in a person’s body. Children must be cautioned against eating and playing with the Elderberry berry and the wood from the Elderberry tree. Teas made from the leaves of the Elderberry tree is also considered dangerous.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are cautioned against taking any dietary supplements made from the Elderberry berry. If you would like to try the therapeutic goodness of this herbal remedy, ask your naturopathic doctor or herbalist regarding the appropriate dose and side effects before proceeding.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan