Let me tell you. Elderberry is a huge powerhouse berry and with a higher antioxidant than blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and goji berry! That alone caught my eye and ear when I first heard of this. No wonder it's one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world.
By late winter and early spring, the elderberry bush begins to leaf out, greening the landscape with its abounding leaves. As summer arrives, it breaks into an abundance of white blooms. During this season you can easily distinguish the shrubs from other green growths. By late summer and early fall, the shrubs will be dripping in heavy bunches of berries. It's mostly taken to treat colds and flu when they arrive and even before.
The important health benefits of elderberries include their ability to alleviate allergies, boost the immune system, protect against bacteria and infection, lower blood sugar, help with weight loss, moderate the digestive process, and slow down the spread of cancer. So grateful for this berry!
CAN I EAT ELDERBERRY RAW?
The raw berries, bark and leaves of the plant are known to be poisonous and cause stomach problems, so be sure not to eat any of the seeds and to strain it well when making tea or syrup. Sambucus nigra is the variety of Elderberry that is most often used for health benefits as it is the only variety considered to be non-toxic even when not cooked, but it is still recommended to cook the berries at least a little to enhance their taste and digestibility.
WHERE DID ELDERBERRY COME FROM?
I got you! Elderberries are the fruit of the flowering plant known as Sambucus, more commonly referred to as elder or elderflower. The full scientific name of the most common variant, from which we get the majority of our elderberries, is Sambucus nigra. You will primarily find  elderberries in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America, although some southern species are grown in Australia.
WHAT ELSE CAN ELDERBERRY DO?
Well, the flowers and leaves have been used for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, stimulates the need to urinate and to sweat. The bark was used as a diuretic, laxative and to induce vomiting (1).
In folk medicine, the dried berries or juice are used to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain, as well as a laxative and diuretic (2). I drink 2 tablespoons a day and I feel like I can bounce off the walls. The sciatica and nerve pain that I'd experienced for so long, went away as I was drinking this tonic.
The berries are black or dark blue and have a sharp, sweet flavor that makes them great for desserts, syrups, jams, jellies, spreads, and as the base for cocktails and beverages. You can also make wine at home from these berries.
WHAT'S THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE LIKE?
Elderberries are packed with nutrients and minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorus, and copper, which is what the brain needs to function as it should. As well as vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, and C, proteins and dietary fiber. Add the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits in the body, and you have one powerful a** berry!
Elderberry has endless amounts of benefits. I'm going to go a bit more in detail on my Top 10!
Because a warm tea of elderflowers promotes sweating, this action moves stagnancy and can be a gentle form of natural detoxification for the skin. Infused with innate anti-aging and free radical fighting properties, elderberries keep your skin radiant for longer periods.
Also, they also act as a natural detoxifying agent and help prevent distressing skin conditions like breakouts, boils, and scars. Elderflowers historically were often used as external preparations as a tea wash or infused in oil for a cream or salve. Elderflower washes or lotions are perfect for red and inflamed skin conditions, such as irritated rashes, sunburn, and rosacea. Elderflower water used to be a very common beauty regimen.
2. IMMUNE SYSTEM
Elderberries are renowned for their ability to prevent upper respiratory infections, as well as to shorten the duration of a cold or influenza. One way that elderberries may work is due to the presence of a hemagglutinin protein. This protein has been shown to inhibit a virus’ ability to penetrate a cell wall, which then stops its ability to replicate. It's also used in treating cancer and AIDS patients. Cytokines is a type of protein that acts as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response, thus helping to defend the body against disease.
Scientists from numerous parts of the world had used elderberries in cancer treatment, with much success. This can be attributed to the quercetin in elderberries – whose therapeutic effects can stimulate the immune system and aid the treatment (4).
Other studies show that elderberries can also treat prostate cancer. The berries are known to inhibit a biochemical process called hedgehog signaling, which has been linked to cancer (5).
Elderberry is a huge anti-inflammatory. Why is this so important? Because of manifestations of dis-ease and illness is due to inflammation and mucus within the body. Elderberry rids of inflammation on a cellular level and can then relieve the body of mucus and allow the body to strengthen itself. Which serves for nerve damage, back pain, arthritis, sciatica, etc.
5. MENTAL HEALTH
One study talks about how the anthocyanins in berries (including elderberries) can help treat cognitive impairment and the resultant conditions like Alzheimer’s (13).
Elderberries are also replete with quercetin, which is an important flavonoid critical for brain health. Quercetin reduces the harmful inflammation at a cellular level. It also activates the mitochondria in your cells – which are powerhouses that boost cell health.
Given that they are rich in potassium (and also they have a great potassium to sodium ratio), elderberries can help regulate blood pressure. They ensure the blood vessels relax. Also, a high potassium diet is known to reduce the strain on the heart. Elderberries also contain beneficial compounds called anthocyanins, which protect the inner layer of the blood vessels from oxidative stress. This protects the cells from inflammatory stressors, ultimately improving circulation and cutting the risk of heart disease (6).
Just like most fruits, elderberries are rich in fiber. And fiber, as we know, improves satiety and can aid weight loss. This has been proven by a German study as well – where participants taking elderberry juice enriched with elderberry flower and the extracts saw a significant improvement in weight regulation.
The fiber this berry has, just like most berries, give the body fiber. The fiber in the fruit can also treat other digestive issues like constipation, stomach upset, gas, and bloating.
The extract can help treat herpes as well. The antioxidants in the berry can fight the herpes virus and give relief.
10. BONE HEALTH
The calcium, iron, and potassium in the berries are known to strengthen bones and increase bone mineral density.
WHAT ABOUT ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
The raw seeds can make some people nauseous if they eat too many of them. Cooking them diminishes this effect. People have said that the commercially bought elderberry powder can cause vomiting since there's seeds in the powder. I recommend making a tea or syrup and then adding it to your drinks or smoothies.
Now you can see why this berry is a must have to consume on a daily basis. Whether as a tea or a tonic, Elderberry is sure to resonate with every part of you and nourish your vessel as it should.
Decoction/Syrup: 30-60 grams prepared as a decoction/syrup per day
Tincture: 30-90 drops per hour
You can purchase wild organic elderberry here.
You can see how to make elderberry tea and syrup here.
Elderberry Herb Notes / Side Effects
Elderberry, Black Elderberry, North American Elderberry
antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory
Immune system boost, coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsillitis, lower cholesterol, improved vision and heart health.
Cancer, HIV, asthma and bronchitis, reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.
Infusions of the fruit are said to be beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.