Also known as: Common elder, black elder, European elder, German elder, pipe tree and bore tree
The Elder tree is a short, dense, shrub-like tree that likes to spread about twenty feet if it is allowed. It has rough gray-brown stem with large creamy white heads of small, sweet smelling flowers. The flowers then turn into small purple berries. Elder is widely known as a common but effective traditional medicine of indigenous peoples in many different areas across Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa, and North America. The whole plant is medicinally activefrom the bark and wood, to the leaves, branches flower and fruit. The flowers and berries are the most commonly used parts of the plant.
The flowers are wonderful for the skin in an infused oil. It is softening, anti-inflammatory, healing and good for all skin types. This is a great addition to any healing cream or skin preparation. The flowers when tinctured or in a tea are febrifuge (reduce fever) and diaphoretic (promote sweating)2. Combined with catnip and peppermint they make a wonderful remedy for treating infants fevers. It encourages balance in the mechanism that regulates body temperature and reduces frighteningly high fevers extremely well1. The flowers also work as decongestant making them useful for any catarrhal conditions of the upper respiratory tract. They can be used in a mouthwash to gargle for mouth and throat infection or inflammation.
Elderberry is used to create delicious teas, syrups, cordials, wines, jams, jellies, an anything else you can do with fruit! The great thing is that this delicious fruit contains more vitamin C than any other herb other than rose hip. Because of the high Vitamin C content, elderberry is a wonderful immune boosting herb which is wonderful to use with children because of the delicious flavor and effective immune system boost. It is commonly used in the treatment of cold, flu, coughs, bacterial infection and tonsillitis. “Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell.”3 The juice of the berry has high anti-oxidant abilities that have shown promising results in lowering cholesterol and reducing cardiovascular disease. Elderberry Juice is a cleanser and tonic for the reproductive and glandular system.The juice needs to be brought to a boil and cooled before drinking or it may have purgative.
Because of the purgative nature of the leaves external use is all that is advised. They are used in ointments, compresses, formentations and poultices for bruises, sprains, and wounds.2Here is a great tea to use to reduce fevers, especially in little ones.
Fever Reducing Tea
- 2 parts Catnip
- 2 parts Elder Flower
- 1 part Echinacea Root
- 1 part Peppermint
- Mix the herbs and store in an air tight container
- Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1tsp of the mixture and steep for at least 1 hour up to 8 hours. Strain. Administer every 30 minutes.
How do you use Elder?
Where do I get my herbs?
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Read more about this great magazine coming out September 2013 here!
1Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun S.Weed
2Natural Health by Nerys Purchon
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