These darkly stained purple berries are charged with medicinal properties and cherished by civilizations for thousands of years. From the ancient Egyptians who used the berries to heal burns and improve complexions, to the Native American Indians who used the leaves and berries to heal wounds, and medieval Europeans who used the plant to treat deadly influenzas.
Immune boosting: elderberries are rich in certain flavonoids (responsible for the deep color) that stimulate the immune system by boosting cytokines, some of which play a crucial role in the body’s response to sickness.
Antiviral: elderberries are also believed to contain antiviral agents so potent that they have been found to deactivate viruses. As viruses need to enter into healthy cells in order to multiply, and are coated with certain enzymes that allow them to break down the cell wall it intends to make its host. The flavonoids in elderberries inhibit the action of this enzyme, blocking the virus from entering the cells.
Fights cold and flu, preventing and even reducing the duration of illness. The elderberry tree is also considered an “anti-catarrhal” plant as it prevents the formation of excess mucous.
Anti-inflammatory. Due to the special presence of cytokines (which can manifest as anti-inflammatoire markers) elderberries can reduce overall inflammation in the body.
Allergy relief due to immuno-stimulating and anti inflammatory properties
Supports digestive health by acting as a laxative, reducing excess gas, and supporting the digestive tract in general with its anti oxidant and anti inflammatory actions.
Immune Boosting Elderberry Syrup
Add fresh or dried elderberries to a pot and cover with water. Simmer for about an hour, crushing the elderberries with a potato masher or large spoon every so often to help break the berries apart and better release their medicinal properties.
Strain the berries through a sieve or using cheesecloth; reserving the liquid for the potion. The hard fibers and seeds can be baked into breads or muffins.
Add the strained potion back into the saucepan, bring to a boil and remove from stove immediately. Add the rosemary and thyme branches and cover the saucepan to infuse for a minimum of half an hour to overnight.
Strain the potion and add a few spoonfuls of manuka honey (or another organic, local honey) and take 2 tablespoons a day as a cold/flu prevention, or increase the dose to 4 to 6 tablespoons a day when fighting off sickness.
To conserve the potion for later use: after infusing and separating the thyme and rosemary, bring the elderberry syrup back to boiling point, removing from the stove once it starts bubbling, and pour the liquid into sterilized mason jars before adding the spoonfuls of manuka honey. Seal, shake, and turn the jars upside down, and save for winter illness emergencies.
High proof alcohol (vodka, cane sugar)/Apple cider vinegar/vegetable glycerine
Add elderberries to a mason jar and add a splash of boiling water to prep the berries for the tincture exctraction. Cover the elderberries with high proof alcohol, ACV, or organic vegetable glycerine and seal. Keep in a dark cool place, agitating the mixture every few days, for two weeks and up to six months. The longer the extraction, the stronger the tincture.
*PRECAUTION: Do not eat raw elderberries as they can be slightly poisonous, inducing digestive issues and can cause a mild allergic reaction.
According to pagan lore, the Elder Mother spirit inhabits the the elder tree and it was said that those who fell asleep under its branches would enter the fairy realm through their dreams.
Elderberry wood protects from emotional attacks and branches hung above doors protects from bad spirits.
Elderberries are used in blessing rituals and are considered born from a feminine tree governed by Venus and the element of water.