Elder has many medicinal uses - its flowers, leaves and berries have been used by Native American medicine as well as in Africa and Europe. It's one of my favorite winter remedies to have on hand.
The flowers are nourishing and contain soothing mucilage and essential oils. The tannins provide an astringent quality that is helpful in clearing up congestion. Traditionally, as described by Rosemary Gladstar, the flowers are added to tea or syrup or tea to help reduce fever.
The leaves and berries also have a tart, astringent taste, but are most used for cold, cough, and fever. antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant properties.
If you have fresh leaves, you can use them as a poultice for red, inflamed skin rashes by macerating the leaves in oil and applying to the skin.
The berries are also somewhat bitter, acting just as other digestive "bitters", improving the body's ability to eliminate toxins.
Here are 3 popular home remedies using Elderberry:
1. Elderberry Tea
Simmer 1/2 cup dried elderberries in 6 cups water for about 40 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste. The tea will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but try to make smaller amounts that you can use within a day or two.
Or you can add rose hips, cinnamon and other spices to make Elderberry Spice Tea as in the video above.
2. Elderberry Syrup
To make the syrup, boil the elderberries until the water reaches half volume (3 cups in the above recipe) and then add an equal amount of raw local honey or agave nectar. If you don't anticipate you will need this much, you could reduce the recipe. Store the syrup in jars in the refrigerator. You can take a teaspoon each day as a tonic during winter months.
3. Elderberry Chia Jam
For this recipe, boil and reduce 4 cups water and 1 cup elderberries until water is reduced to 2 cups. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then puree in a blender. Add 1 Tbs vanilla extract, 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 Tbs Chia seeds, which will thicken the jam as they absorb liquid. If needed, extra chia seeds can be added to create a thicker consistency. Store in the refrigerator. This will keep for a month.
If you are fortunate to pick fresh Elderberries, avoid any greenish or unripe berries - only choose the darkest ones for making these tonics.
Stay healthy and safe,
Zazi Natural Foods