Medicinal properties of elderberry
Elderberry is a shrub and blooms in spring. The fruits are berries, and ripen in late summer. They are dark purple, almost black, and grow in clusters.
They are edible only when they are fully ripe.
The black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), is the only one used as a remedy.
But you have to be careful with the Elderberry plant, because its bark, leaves, seeds and immature fruits, contain a poisonous toxic principle.
Properties and benefits of Elderberry
Both flowers, and elderberries have medicinal properties, and are suitable for the preparation of infusions and syrups, with the following beneficial effects:
1- Treatment of respiratory infections and influenza
An infusion prepared with the elderberry, or with its flowers, helps to improve cold and flu symptoms.
They have expectorant properties, reduce nasal secretions and inflammation of the respiratory tract, which facilitates breathing, with a calming effect on the cough.
2- Strengthens the immune system
Bioflavonoids, present in flowers and berries, strengthen the immune system, by increasing antioxidant levels and protecting cell walls from virus attacks.
3- Diuretic and Laxative
The infusions of flowers and elderberries, have a laxative and purifying properties. It will help us eliminate toxins and wastes from the body.
In addition, due to its diuretic properties, it helps lower blood pressure and lose weight, by reducing water retention.
4- Useful against osteoporosis
Elderberry seems to have positive effects in decreasing urinary calcium excretion.
Therefore, subjects with osteoporosis would have more calcium in the body. With the consequent beneficial effect on the bones, thanks to the inhibition of the process of demineralization of bone tissue.
5- Eye and skin problems
Elderberry juice, have a high disinfectant and regenerating power of tissues, so it is very suitable for skin problems.
We can also use an infusion of elder flowers, for external antiseptic washing, or poultice to treat wounds. Also as an eye cleanser, to treat conjunctivitis and eye inflammation.
External use of Elderberry
Elder bark and leaves are very toxic. Therefore, we can make an infusion with its leaves, and spray on the plants, to protect it against aphids and caterpillars.
We can also use it to repel mosquitoes and flies.
If we rub some fresh Elderberry leaves on the skin, they act as an insect repellent.
Precautions for the consumption of elderberry
Never eat berries when they are not yet ripe. In fact, they may contain toxic substances derived from cyanide.
Pregnant or nursing women and anyone with liver or kidney disease, should not consume syrup made from the flower or elderberry, without consulting a doctor.