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Sambucus nigra
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


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.

The Berries


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.

The Leaves

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

Recipe Type: Medicinal Herbal Tea
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
This tea is wonderful to reduce fever and can be used with children. The herbs can also be used in tincture form for those who do not enjoy drinking tea.
  • 2 parts Catnip
  • 2 parts Elder Flower
  • 1 part Echinacea Root
  • 1 part Peppermint
  1. Mix the herbs and store in an air tight container
  2. 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?

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

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1Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun S.Weed

2Natural Health by Nerys Purchon


Disclaimer General Health disclosure affiliate links

This post shared on: Thank Your Body Thursday, Super Linky Party, Tuesday GreensLiving Green Link UpHealthy 2day


This post shared on: Traditional Tuesdays, Living Green Link Up, The Gathering SpotFrugal Days Sustainable WaysWildcrafting Wednesday

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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3 Responses to Elder: An Herbal Primer

  1. Such a great post! I’m definitely going to hold on to this recipe as I move into cold and flu season. Thanks so much for sharing at Thank Your Body Thursday.

  2. Becky says:

    I had no idea how helpful this plant was. Thanks for linking it up to Tuesday Greens at!

  3. […] have already written extensively about Elder and Elderberry here but I will just give you a quick run down. Elderberry is a wonderful tasting berry herb that is […]

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