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Elder Berries

Origin- Albania

Also known as

Sambucus spp (Nigra for berries and Canadensis for flowers) American Elder, Common Elder, Black Elder, Bour Tree, and European Black Elder.

Introduction

European elder is a plant native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western-and Central Asia. Its flowers and berries have a long history of use in traditional European medicine. Elder berries have also been used for making preserves, wines, winter cordials, and for adding flavor and color to other wines. Native Americans used the flowers, berries, and bark of elderberry trees to treat fevers and joint pain for hundreds of years, but elderberry's real claim to fame is as a cure for the flu. Israeli researchers have developed five formulas based on elderberry fruit that have been clinically proven to prevent and ameliorate all kinds of influenza.

Constituents

Potassium nitrate, sambucin, sambunigrin, sugars. The complex sugars of the berries are the immune-active fraction.

Parts Used

Most commonly the flowers or berries. Dried fruits are less bitter than fresh. The branches and leaves are poisonous. The small stem which is sometimes left on the berry is safe.

Typical Preparations

Teas, tinctures, encapsulations, syrups, wine, cordials, and even ketchup, often combined with propolis or echinacea.

Summary

Extensive research show that elder stop the production of hormone-like cytokines that direct a class of white blood cells known as neutrophils to cause inflammation, especially in influenza and arthritis. On the other hand, elder increases the production non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold. Elder berries are known to be effective against eight strains of influenza. This suggests that elder be superior to vaccines in preventing flu, because flu vaccines are only effective against known strains of flu, whereas the virus is continually mutating to new strains. Vaccines have another draw back: over half of people who get them report side effects. Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. In a clinical trial, 20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed complete cure in three days. In contrast, subjects receiving the placebo required 6 days to recover.

Precautions

None for flowers. According to the Botanical Safety Handbook*, the unripe and raw fruit, seeds, bark and leaves contain a component, sambunigrin, which may cause vomiting or severe diarrhea if ingested.

*Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

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