The Elderberry: The Land of Elder

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I was in Target late last night and I had to stop at the craft aisle which is right across from the supplement aisle, and I hear a woman saying Elderberry.  Ding. My ears perked up for sure, she was describing her kiddos symptoms to her Mother, who said he needs Elderberry. So as they went through the 5 products that ALL had elderberry in it. My heart was humming, it was a perfect timing as I know this time of year that the elderberry is so crucial to the changing of the season and apparently Target does too.

I was a fruit eating kid for sure, and my mom used to send us out to harvest these berries in late August -early September before the starlings at them all.  I completely remember gathering these berries that were going to be used for jam and eating them by the handfuls until my belly hurt but man I was a healthy kiddo and rarely was sick during the beginning of school.

If you didn’t know it Elderberry is an immune tonic, something I 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. I use this in conjunction with other herbs especially for colds and flus. Elderberry is a simple black berry 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. The berries are also supportive of the cardiovascular system and may help lower blood pressure because they are working on helping with inflammation.

I like to take about 30 drops a day for general wellness especially this time of year and if I’m feeling run down then 30 drops 3 to 4 times a day in an acute situation for 

The berries are generally considered safe however a few little notes before I send you off to gather and make although the flowers (elderflower) and berries are safe to consume as a food, 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 in the freezer over night the berries will drop off when tickled with a fork.  

Then 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 just not a fan of sticky chewy things, but I am a fan of something that I can put in my fridge and just have a little dose here and there.  If you can find fresh elderberry (sorry Virginia, all gone for this year) use it. If not the dried berries that you can buy at your 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 or just 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


Colds, Coughs, Flus,Immune support, Herpes Simplex Virus, Minor constipation,Respiratory infections,Rheumatism

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