The Magic of Elderberry
By Robin Cervantes and Terri Williams
There seems to be a change happening in our community. More regularly, people are taking stock of what is going into their bodies. A resurgence of natural living is now the norm and not just for the trendy and elite. Natural living resources, supplies and products are becoming more accessible, affordable and well-known.
There is a beautiful ripple casting through our culture to look back to our ancestors and to share their knowledge with the next generation. Words like elderberry and Fire Cider are becoming household names, as they once were not long ago. An herbal revolution is sweeping through the next generation and it is inspiring.
As many news networks have touted, elderberry is now a tried and true natural remedy to both prevent cold and flu, and to shorten the duration of illness with its powerhouse punch of zinc, antioxidants and vitamins. But not all elderberry products are created equal.
Many commercial brands are packed full of sweeteners and preservatives, while others are chock full of wholesome ingredients and delectable flavor. As grandma once kept it on her table, elderberry can now be found at every pharmacy and grocery store near and far. One can choose between syrup, gummies, tablets and drink powders. It appears there is an elderberry remedy for everyone’s taste.
This insurgence of people getting back to their roots has inspired men and women, grandparents and caregivers, to whip up a batch of elderberry to stock the cupboards and gift to friends. It seems everyone now has their favorite elderberry recipe to share. This is exactly what herbalism is—the passing down of recipes, knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation.
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) is the fruit of the Sambucus tree. This tree is native to Europe, but it also grows throughout the world.
Elderberry was traditionally used as a food, and eaten in jellies, jams, pies, juice and more. It was used as a detoxifier and blood purifier as long ago as the Roman empire. It is an alternative—meaning that it supports the body’s lymphatic and immune systems and restores vitality.
Historically, elderberry was used mostly as a daily tonic to support wellness. It is most effective when used on a regular basis or at the very start of symptoms. Used once symptoms are established, it will take two to three days to work its magic.
Benefits of Elderberry
In the body, elderberry does what you need. It is rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals—including vitamin C, B-complex, potassium, phosphorus, calcium—and many other constituents. It can serve as a pro-inflammatory to enhance the immune response when you’re not feeling well, but it can also be anti-inflammatory to calm the body when you are well.
The flowers of the tree, elderflower, are also a very useful herb to have in your herbal medicine cabinet. Swollen sinuses, colds, flu, bronchitis, diabetes and constipation are just some of the powerful benefits of elderflower. It is used as a diuretic to increase urine production and a diaphoretic to increase sweating which is helpful when dealing with a fever. Elderflower is also known to lower blood sugar.
The most common way you’ll find elderberry as a medicine is elderberry syrup. Below is a wonderful elderberry syrup recipe.
DIY Elderberry Syrup
1 cup elderberry
6 cups water
2 Tbsp ginger
2 tsp cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cup raw unfiltered honey
Directions: Put everything in a pot except the honey and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer, and let it go for 30 minutes to an hour or until it has reduced by half. Take it off the heat and let the mixture cool off. Strain out the ingredients to a clean container and add the honey. Do not add the honey while the mixture is hot, otherwise you’ll burn off the healing properties of the honey. Once cooled all the way transfer to a jar, and cover. Take one tablespoon daily or one tablespoon every three to four hours when you start to feel icky.
Robin Cervantes CHC, AADP, is the founder of Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen, in Georgetown, and Terri Williams is the founder of Melanated Apothecary, in Hutto. For more information, visit SanctuaryHolisticKitchen.com.