The Elder plant is so highly regarded by traditional
herbalists and naturopaths that it has gained a reputation as a
sort of 'complete medical chest' because of its countless
attributes and therapeutic qualities.
There is a long history of folklore that has been attached
to this very popular herb. For instance, Galen described the
herb as both hot and dry, and in the 17th century the plant was
a popular choice for treating problems of excessive phlegm.
The herb was used alternately as a diuretic and as a harsh
purgative. In the 18th century, Elderflower water was used as a
popular skin whitener that supposedly could remove all the
freckles from a person's face.
The Elder plant, scientific name Sambucus nigra, is
comprised of several parts that are used by herbalists to
create potent remedies. The flowers and berries of the Elder
plant have been described as drying, slightly sweet, cool and
The flowers are used to treat a variety of ailments. The
flowers are mainly used to help treat problems of excessive
phlegm and to encourage sweating. Many herbalists think of the
Elder flower as the ideal herb for treating colds or influenza.
Herbal remedies made from the Elder flowers are also used to
help control the symptoms of hay fever.
They can be ingested as a prophylactic to help strengthen
the upper respiratory tract. This should be done before the
pollen count rises. The Elder flowers can also be used
topically to treat chilblains and as an all around
anti-inflammatory. The Elder flowers used for most herbal
remedies are traditionally harvested in early summer.
The Elder plant contains berries that are also used to
create herbal remedies. The berries are known to be rich in
vitamins A and C when they are ripe. Traditionally the berries
have been taken to prevent the onset of winter colds. They are
usually harvested in early fall.
An Interesting Herb Fact
The Healing Beauty of Borage
The borage flower (Borago officinalis) is well known for its lovely blue color. The flowers have been used since Elizabethan times for both decoration and for its healing beauty. Recent modern research has shown that the plant may actually stimulate the adrenal glands, encouraging the production of adrenaline, that famous 'fight or flight' hormone that is responsible for getting our bodies geared up during the most stressful times in our lives. Herbalists describe the character of the borage...
The bark of the Elder plant is also used in some herbal
remedies. The bark is usually taken to treat chronic, stubborn
constipation as well as some arthritic conditions. Herbalists
have described the bar of the Elder plant as warm, and it is
believed to be effective as a liver stimulant.
However, naturopaths rarely use the bark of the
Elder plant or herbalists in remedies prepared these days.
There are many ways to prepare the Elder plant
in an herbal remedy. Perhaps the simplest way to ingest the
Elder plant is to prepare it in an infusion. As an infusion,
the Elder plant can be drank in a hot tea to treat fevers,
mucous conditions of the upper respiratory tract system, and to
control the symptoms of hay fever.
If you find yourself forgetting things, then
a drop or two of sage oil on the wrist or neck
can help a long way.
An infusion of herbs is made by placing 1 to
2 teaspoons of dried herb or 2 to 4 fresh herbs
in a carrier oil like sweet almond or water and
then strained after about 10 minutes.
The water does not have to be heated by the
Many herbalists combine the Elder plant with
other herbs, including boneset, yarrow, and peppermint. The
flowers of the Elder plant can also be used to create a cream
that can be applied to chapped skin and skin sores. For sore or
strained eyes, use an eyewash created with Elder flowers to
rinse the eyes several times a day. Elder flowers can also be
used to create a mouthwash to treat sore throats, tonsillitis,
and mouth ulcers.