For centuries, the berry of the Elder bush (Sambucus nigra) has been popular Gypsy remedy for colds, flu, influenza and neuralgia. Finally, there is now solid 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 and preventative herbal remedy for colds and flu, did her thesis on its antiviral effects.
Dr. Mumcuoglu patented a procedure to isolate the potent disease-fighting compounds from elderberry, than tested her extract, Sambucol on patients of a flu outbreak at Kibbutz Aza in Isarel. 20% of the flu sufferers who used it showed significant relief from fever, muscle aches, sore throat, inflammation, coughing and other symptoms within 24 hours, and another 73% felt better after the second day. In three days, 90% were reported completely cured!
Use of Sambucol
Internally, can be used also for sinusitis, hay fever, bronchitis, eczema, boils, dermatitis, chronic nasal catarrh, and spasmodic croup. Clogged ears due to colds respond well to the flowers, and both have anti-inflammatory properties that fight arthritis and rheumatic pains. It is also used as an ointment for tumors, burns, cuts, chapping, skin eruptions, inflammations, night sweats, dropsy and syphilis. Elderberry wine is an old European tradition. Elderberry is purifying to the lungs and skin, promotes perspiration to reduce fevers, soothes nerves, and works as laxative. In a similar group that received placebo, only 16% were improved in two days, and it took most of them six days or more to feel well again.
How Does Elderberry Fight Cold & Flu?
Compounds in elderberry bind viruses before they can penetrate the walls of cells, thereby inhibiting their ability to spread. Since elderberry is nontoxic when cooked, it is safe for children. The hot tea from the flowers and juice from the berries promotes sweating preferable adding on lemon juice and honey which is soothing for upper respiratory infections. The tea is also considered to be anti-rheumatic, laxative and detoxifying.
Old Lore and Uses of Elderberry
Our family has a large elderberry bush in our garden and we make our won elderberry juice each year. In ancient times, elderberry bushes were believed to have special mystical properties, and it was considered good luck to plant it near your house to protect against disease and evil spirits.
Elderberries are a good source of Vitamin A, B, C. Cooked berries can be used in pies and jams, also as a lemonade. Applied externally as a poultice, it's useful for burns, rashes, and minor skin problems. Scambucol stimulates the immune system and has shown activity in preliminary trials against viruses, such as Epstein-Barr (a member of the herpes virus family and one of the most common human viruses), herpes, cold sores and even HIV. In Canada elderberry syrup from the elderflowers is available from IKEA, can be also used in any herbal teas, a Wyldewood Cellars Elderberry concentrate to be used as drops from Regime Natural and a elderberry juice with Vitamin C and Echinacea, called Sambuguard from Flora in health food stores.
My Own Personal Experience
As a child I frequently had fevers, since I played most outside all year round and very often did not dress properly in the fall and winter. My mother made pure elderberry juice from the ripe, black elderberries which we picked ourselves in late fall from the bushes that grew wild in the fields. She heated the juice, and added lemon juice and honey. I had to drink two large cups before going to bed. She also put a wet poultice around my neck, and sometimes even on my chest and legs depending on how high the fever was. During the night I sweated severely and next morning the fever would be completely gone. I never missed a day in school. The elderberry juice enhanced the healing power of my body and all the bad stuff was pushed out through the pores. We used the formula also with our two boys when they were young and it worked all the time!
The Legend of the Elder
The elder bush was reputed to be the favorite of witches, who supposedly resided in its branches. In the Middle Ages, nearly everyone knew cutting down an elder bush 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.
Old and Native Uses of Elder Bushes
American Native Indians use the leaves and flowers in antiseptic wash for skin diseases and the berries to dye their hair black and dye the strands of grass they use in their basket designs. Others have used the tea made from the leaves as a diaphoretic (an agent that promotes sweating), the inner bark as a cathartic (an agent for purging the bowels, especially a laxative), the flowers simmered in oil for sunburn, and steeped in water as a compress for headaches. The flowers contain an oil that is used in perfume and cosmetics. Elderflower water can be used as a wash for dry skin or as a cooling wash for the eyes. According to an ancient recipe, washing your face with elderflower water in the morning and before retiring, leave it there to dry, will remove freckles and hardened skin. American Indians used the leaves also for pain relief which promotes healing of injuries.
Don't you agree that Elderberry is almost a miracle herb?
Words of Wisdom
When we open up our consciousness and dwell in the beauties of Nature, we allow healing to enter our lives.
Dr. Bernard Jensen, D.C., N.D., Ph.D., Clinical Nutritionist (19089 - 2001)
Klaus Ferlow, MHM, innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, President, founder, & co-owner FERLOW BOTANICALS, Div. of Ferlow Brothers Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., founded 1975, manufacturer of organic chemical-free, zero harm herbal medicinal and personal care products to health care practitioner and selected stores with holistic practitioners on staff in Canada and parts of USA since 1993. Board member of the Health Action Network Society, Burnaby, C., www.hans.org, Associated member of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of British Columbia, Surrey, B.C., www.chaofbc.ca and the Neem Foundation, Bombay, India, www.neemfounation.org , www.ferlowbotanicals.com