Elderberry – What are its health benefits?
The humble Elderberry has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Traditionally, Native Americans used it to treat infections, while the ancient Egyptians used it to improve their complexions and heal burns. It’s still gathered and used in folk medicine across many parts of the world.
While there are several varieties of Elderberry, the most common is Sambucus nigra or European Elderberry. It grows like a bush with white flowers and dark purple bunches of small berries. The raw berries cannot be eaten; however, they can have some exciting health benefits when cooked and prepared correctly.
In this blog, we look at what health benefits the Elderberry possesses and how best to use it.
Did you know the elderberry berries contain nearly 3 times as many antioxidants as blueberries?! They are rich in bioflavonoids – particularly anthocyanin, which gives the berry its deep purple colour. Bursting with minerals such as potassium, iron and copper, Vitamins A, B and C as well as proteins and dietary fibre, elderberries provide the body with an antioxidant boost to fight free radical damage.
What health issues is it suitable for?
Elderberry is renowned for its use as a cold and flu remedy, which is supported by recent clinical research. In fact, studies have tested groups of people with cold and flu symptoms, and have shown that given elderberry syrup a few times a day took less time to recover than those given a placebo. As well as treating cold and cases of flu, Elderberry has historically been used to manage:
The high vitamin C content makes the Elderberry an immunity booster, protecting the body from infection. The diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties of the Elderberry also aid in the treatment of arthritic conditions. Evidence suggests it may even support heart health and contain cancer-inhibiting properties; however, further extensive research needs to be done to demonstrate how significant these effects may be in humans.
How to use Elderberry
For the most part, when treating cold and flu symptoms, Elderberry is taken in a syrup form. However, you can also cook the berries and use it to make juice, jams, chutneys and pies. The flowers can also be infused into a tea.
You can buy natural elderberry syrups from most health food stores; however, making your own is much more cost-effective and doubly delicious! We love this recipe from Wellnessmama:
- 3½cups water
- 2/3cup dried elderberries (or 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen)
- 2TBSP ginger (grated)
- 1tsp cinnamon
- ½tsp ground cloves
- 1cup raw honey
- Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
- Remove from heat and let cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
- Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil.
- Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
- Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
- When it is no longer hot, add the honey and stir well.
- When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a jar.
- Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune-boosting properties.
Your very own homemade elderberry syrup! Enjoy and reap the health benefits 🙂