This article was authored by Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist), innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder Ferlow Botanical Enterprises Ltd, Vancouver, B.C. manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners in Canada and parts of USA since 1993.
For centuries, the berry from the elderberry tree has been a popular Gypsy remedy for cold, flu, influenza, and neuralgia.
Finally, there is solid scientific evidence to back up the folklore, thanks to Israeli researcher Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D, of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center. In 1980 Dr. Mumcuoglu, intrigued by elderberry's reputation as a cure for colds and flu, did her thesis on the antiviral effects of elderberry. She patented a procedure to isolate the potent disease fighting compounds from elderberry, then tested her extract (Sambucol) on patients of a flue outbreak at Kibbutz Aza in Israel. As a child I had many times fever and my mother used the pure elderberry juice she made herself which we picked from the bushes, heated it up, added lemon juice and honey to it and I had to drink two cups before retiring. I sweated it all out overnight, and next morning the fever was gone and I never missed a day in school! Twenty percent of flu sufferers who used it showed significant relief of fever, muscle aches, sore throat, inflammation, coughing and other symptoms within 24 hours, and another 73 percent felt better after the second day. In three days, 90 percent were reported complete cured! Internal uses also for sinusitis, hay fever and bronchitis, external, eczema, boils, dermatitis. In a similar group that received inactive treatment (a placebo) only 16 percent were improved in two days, and it took most of them six days to feel well again.
How does elderberry fight the flu? Compounds in elderberry bind with viruses before they can penetrate the walls of cells, thereby inhibiting their ability to spread. Since elderberry is nontoxic when cooked, it is safe even for children.The hot tea from the flowers and/or juice from the berries promotes sweating, preferable adding on lemon juice and honey and is soothing for the upper respiratory infections, also considered to be anti-rheumatic, laxative and detoxifying. In ancient times, elderberry trees and bushes were believed to have special mystical properties, and it was considered good luck to plant a tree/bush near your house to protect against disease and evil spirits.
Elderberries are also a good source of vitamins A,B, C. Cooked berries can be used in pies and jams, as a lemonade and you also can make from the berries a wine. Applied externally as a poultice, useful for burns, rashes, and minor skin problems.Cautions/Contraindications: pregnancy and lactation, also publicity from this trial sold more than 30000 bottles of sambucol in Israel within a year. Sambucol also stimulates the immune system and has shown activity in preliminary trials against other viruses, such as Epstein-bar, herpes and even HIV! Sambucol has just become available in the United States and Canada, and you may be able to find it on the shelves at your health food store or pharmacy.
American Indians use the leaves and flowers in antiseptic wash for skin diseases, and the berries to dye their hair (black) and the dye the strands of grass they use in their basket designs.Others have used the tea of the leaves as a diaphoretic, the inner bark as a cathartic, the flowers simmered in oil for sunburn, and steeped in water as a compress for headache. The flowers contain an oil that is used in perfume and cosmetics. Elder flower water can be used s a wash for dry skin or as a cooling wash for the eyes. According to an ancient recipe, washing your face with elder flower water in the morning and at night (and leaving it there to dry) will remove freckles and morphew (hardened skin). American Indians used the leaves for pain relief and to promote healing of injuries.
The elder tree was reputed to be the favourite tree of witches, who supposedly resided in its branches. In the Middle Ages, nearly everyone knew that cutting down an elder tree would incur the wrath of the witches who called it home. There were many tales of angry witches taking vengeance on babies whose unwitting parents put them in a cradle of elder wood.
The Botanical Pharmacy, Heather Boon, BScPhm, Ph.D., Michael Smith, BPharm, MRPharmsS, ND, ISBN 1-55082-252-7
Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., ISBN 0-684-86639-5
Herbal Remedies, MediScript Communications Inc,.ISBN 1 -622162-99051-9
Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose, ISBN 0-86719-528-8
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Ph.D, ISBN 0-312-96648-2
Plant Technology of First Peoples in British Columbia, Nancy J. Turner, ISBN-7748-0687-7
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, alive books, ISBN 0-920470-75-0
This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.