There is no better time than now to give thanks to the beautiful elder (Sambucus nigra).
All parts of the elder can be used in different ways although most tend to use the berries and flowers. The flowers are amazing in teas as this can have a slightly sedative effect and opens the pores to reduce heat which can be comforting to those who have dry irritable skin. The flower is also beneficial for colds, flu and inflammation in the lungs. The berries are very similar to the flowers, but they also build the blood and can be used for anemia. The berries are also useful for sore throats and nasal congestion.
Because elder is both stimulating and sedative it is said to have a normalizing action. Because it has this normalizing action it can be helpful for most conditions that are hot or cold, dry or damp. Mathew Woods writes, “Elder opens all tubes of the body (skin, lungs, colon, kidneys, blood vessels), improving oxygenation, blood flow, perspiration and elimination by colon and kidneys.
Elder is a wonderful herb to use with children. As a relaxant, it calms the spasmodic cough, and can be helpful with croup or intestinal upset with cramping. Research now shows that elderberry can shorten the life or even kill the influenza virus.
My favorite way to keep elder on-hand is a syrup made of the berries and flowers. If you are familiar with elderberry syrup that has been store-bought, you will be blown away by a homemade fresh batch. There are many reasons to start making your own elderberry syrup.
Many years ago when I first purchased elderberry syrup, an eight ounce bottle cost around $15-20. I’m not sure what the going price is nowadays. Berries can range in price, but you can typically find one ounce for under $6 and the flowers for under $3.
Another reason to make your own is the love that you put into making a remedy to heal your family. For this, it may be the most important reason to make your own. No company puts the intention of love and healing for your family into it while the syrup rides the conveyer belt. As you make your syrup and stir it knowing how it will keep your family healthy, that energy adds to the potency of its action.
#3 No preservatives
Next reason: no crazy preservatives, just honey. Your batch should last you three to six months depending on how much you use it.
And, finally, your house will smell amazing!
The recipe below is a basic starting point I use. Depending on my mood or what I feel is necessary, I will add a few extra herbs.
Add herbs and spices to water and bring to a simmer. Turn down to low and infuse covered for 45 minutes up to a few hours on warm. Cool and strain. Add honey. Refrigerate.
It’s as easy as that. Enjoy!
Author: Angela McElroy is a naturopathic practitioner with a special interest in children’s health. She treats both acute and chronic conditions including allergies, digestive concerns, skin complaints (boils, rash, eczema), nutritional deficiencies, and childhood illnesses. Angela works to support, encourage, balance, and bring healing to children and families struggling with ADHD, anger, anxiety, and other emotional imbalances.