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The Elderberry: The Land of Elder

Late last night I was headed to the craft aisle in Target - which was directly across from the supplements aisle - when I heard a women say, “Elderberry”. Ding! My ears perked up for sure. This young mother was describing her kiddo’s symptoms to her Mother who then told her promptly the child needed Elderberry. They then started going through the 5 products that ALL had elderberry in it on the shelves. Hearing this my heart was humming: it was perfect timing as I know this time of year that the Elderberry is so crucial to the changing of the season...and apparently Target’s team knows that as well!

As a kid I was a fervent fruit eater and my mom used to send us out to harvest these deep purple-black berries in late August - early September before the Starlings ate them all. She wanted us to gather them for jam but, in the process, I remember eating the ripe berries by the handfuls until my belly hurt but, man, I was a healthy kiddo and was rarely sick during the beginning of school!

Elderberryis an immune tonic and something I like to use for the changing of the season, back to school, for traveling and general wellness.  It’s SWEET so it usually is a remedy that kids actually enjoy and I use these immune-boosting berries in conjunction with other herbs: especially for colds and flus. Elderberry is a simple deep black berry, it is a powerhouse of immunity and can really add oomph and vitality to your day-to-day wellness. It is known to build the immune system, shorten the duration of a cold or flu, help with rheumatism and inflammation, reduce the symptoms and duration of a flare up from the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The berries are also supportive of the cardiovascular system and may help lower blood pressure because they are working on helping with inflammation.

Dosage and Safety Tips: This time of year (Autumn, Winter) especially, I like to take about 30 drops of syrup a day for general wellness, and if I’m feeling run down then I up the dosage to 30 drops, 3 to 4 times a day in an acute situation. The berries are generally considered safe, however, a few little notes before I send you off to gather and make your own immune-boosting syrup. Although the flowers (elderflower) and berries (elderberry) are safe to consume as a food,unripe berries and the stems are not so take care when harvesting that you clean the berries. I learned a trick from one of my friends and herbalists, Rosalee de la Floret, that if you put the umbels (berry cluster) in the freezer overnight the berries will drop off when “tickled” with a fork helping the process to remove them more safely.  At that point, I’ll either keep them frozen for a later date or I’ll make an Elderberry syrup. There are recipes on the internet for elderberry gummies, but I’m not much of a fan, personally, of sticky chewy things so, instead, I’d rather have something that I can put in my fridge and just have a little dose here and there as needed. If you can find fresh elderberry use it. If not, the dried berries that you can buy at your {cough, cough, ahem} local apothecary work just as well!

Here’s my recipe for Elderberry Syrup with Raw Honey on my Herbal Musing Blog where all of these love letters are being homed for you to refer back to WHENEVER you need to.

For a little bit of nerding here is the herbal materia medica:

Elderberry, Elderflower, Elder Sambucus Canadensis

Latin name: Sambucus nigra

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Parts Used: Berries picked in early fall (the flowers are also useful but that will be a different blog post!)

Energetics: sweet, bitter, cool, moist

Actions: alterative, anticattaral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, decongestant, digestive, nervine, rejuvenative, tonic

Uses:Colds, Coughs, Flus, Immune support, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Minor Constipation,Respiratory Infections, Rheumatism




Colleen O’Bryant is a trained herbalist and not a licensed doctor or registered healthcare practitioner. She cannot and does not claim to diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines. Colleen O’Bryant does not claim that the information and products she provides to Client will prevent, alleviate, or cure any diseases or medical conditions. The information and products Colleen and Wild Roots Apothecary provides is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal products, particularly if you have a known medical condition, allergy or if you are pregnant or nursing. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises. Wild Roots Apothecary statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA and they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Client understands that Colleen is not yet certified by the American Herbalists Guild, but by working with clients such as yourself she is gaining the required hours of practice to apply towards her certification.

Wild Roots Apothecary does not claim to be a pharmacy or prescribe medicines. Additionally, Wild Roots does not claim to be able to cure or relieve the client's specific condition or illness with the herbal formulations or recommendations provided.

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