The International Herb Association named Elder as herb of the year in 2013.
There is more romance, folklore, tradition, and superstition recorded in history about this remarkable plant than about any other herb known.
The great herbalist, Henry Box of England, stated, “For colds, influenza, fevers, inflammation of the brain, pneumonia, inflammation of stomach, bowels, or any other part, this is a certain cure. I have never known it to fail, even when given up and at the point of death, it will not only save at the eleventh hour, but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless that you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain.”
The flowers and berries are the parts of the plant that are most used internally although the bark and leaves have been used externally for skin conditions such as boils, swelling, bruises, and eczema. The bark and root are not used internally so much because they are strong purgatives and emetics.
The berries are a wonderful herb to use for colds and flu. I like to combine them with rose hips and calendula flowers to make a tea or an extract. Use equal parts of each dried herb for each preparation.
For a tea use a teaspoon of the combined herbs per cup of distilled water. Boil the water and pour over the herb, cover and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Drink while warm.
To make an extract fill a glass jar half way with the herbs and fill the jar the rest of the way with equal parts distilled water and vegetable glycerin. Cap the jar and shake it several times a day for 2 weeks, strain off the liquid through a piece of muslin or cheese cloth. The liquid that you strained off is the extract. Use a half teaspoon of this preparation several times a day.
Here is also a recipe for Elder Tea taken from Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing book. This is for flu, fevers and inflammation.
1 ounce Elder flowers (Sambucus canadensis)
1 ounce Peppermint leaves (Mentha piperita)
Preparation: Place in appropriate vessel and pour 1/2 pint (2 cups) of boiling distilled water over the herb, cover tightly and keep warm on stove for 15 minutes, strain and cover immediately and keep warm.
Dosage: 1 teacupful every 30 to 45 minutes until the patient perspires; then 2 tablespoonfuls every 1 to 2 hours.
Administration: This tea taken hot will break down congestions, equalize circulation, and restore a functional equilibrium. Keep patient well covered in bed overnight; then sponge the body in the morning with equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water (this will act as a tonic and cleanse waste from the pores). For children: Give smaller doses and sweeten.