Elderberry is not only our Herb of the Month for May, it is the Herb of the Year for 2013.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) grows in moist, rich soil, likes dappled light and is a member of the Honeysuckle family.  They grow in abundance along the wetlands area at Red Road Herbs.

The flowers have a honey-sweet scent.  They are known to stimulate the immune system, reduce phlegm, promote sweating (to remove toxins.) As if that wasn’t enough, they are also used in beauty treatments to soften and lighten skin.

Harvested Elderflower

Harvested Elderflower

The berries are an excellent antioxidant and anti-viral. They contain Vitamins A, B and C.  Although known for centuries as a remedy for the flu, we now also know the way they work on the flu virus.  They stimulate white blood cell production as well as inhibit its ability to duplicate.  Even though the virus can mutate from year to year, Elderberry remains effective in its ability to inhibit duplication.  

As a flu remedy, they are commonly made into a syrup by boiling equal parts of berries and water with sugar or honey.  If berries cannot be used right away, they can be dried or frozen to use later.  

August Elderberries
August Elderberries during a drought

Elderberry leaves are used externally for burns, bruises, and hemorrhoids. The bark and the stems are also used; the bark for black dye and the stems for flutes and whistles.

Elderberry is believed to have mystical powers as well as have spirits living in them. In Denmark, permission from “the Elder Mother” is required to harvest her medicine.  It is also believed to be good luck to have one planted near your home.  We have a grove of them so we feel very lucky.