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PaperBack April 2, Make effective health remedies the holistic way with herbs from your own backyard, using tips on how to grow and forage like a true herbalist from this comprehensive manual. Check your local Dymocks store for stock. Enter your postcode: Please enter a valid postcode. Please note that prices may vary between www. Considering both its heat-clearing and antiviral attributes, elderflower is the foremost herb that I reach for when there are complaints of the flu with fever and irritability. It is also called for with other viral complaints such as Epstein-Barr, mononucleosis, chicken pox and shingles.
Not only does elderflower address the heat and viral components of the illness, its nervine qualities soothe the overarching sense of agitation and neediness. It is, without a doubt, my favorite herb for dealing with small children: compresses of an elderflower infusion can even be applied to a fussy, teething infant to soothe and calm the child. As the seasons progress, the almighty elder delivers its second crop of medicine in the waning days of summer and early fall.
Those delicate umbels of white foam-like blossoms give way to small berries in shades of blue and black, which have come to be known as one of the most renowned immune supporting botanicals in the herbal medicine world. Elderberry taken throughout the typical "cold and flu season" is a widely accepted preventative protocol, although the evidence of its efficacy is somewhat anecdotal.
Elderberry remedies taken at the onset of flu symptoms have drawn quite a bit of scientific attention with several studies indicating that they help to drastically reduce both the duration and severity of symptoms such as fever, cough, running nose and body ache. Traditional herbalists point to the use of elderberry for croupy coughs, coughs that become worse at night and deep lung congestion. The value of elderberries is not limited to viral issues and complaints of the lungs.
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Due to its high anthocyanin content, elderberries support cardiovascular health in a variety of ways. A study of 21 healthy volunteers in examined the blood lipid profiles of each individual after consuming milliliters of elderberry infusion over a course of 30 days.
The results indicated scientifically significant reductions in triglycerides, low density lipoproteins LDL and overall cholesterol levels. The flowers can be tinctured either fresh or dried in alcohol or glycerin — the latter being particularly child friendly. Dried flowers make lovely teas and infusions, alone or in concert with other herbs.
The flowers make a delightful syrup that can be drizzled over cakes and used to sweeten cocktails and mocktails alike. Other culinary applications for the flowers include fritters and candies. Ripe elderberries can also be tinctured fresh or dried. The berries also make the most delicious syrup that can be prepared on its own or with other immune system supporting herbs. I particularly like using elderberries in an oxymel preparation: a vinegar and honey mixture that not only tastes good but triggers a strong salivary response which promotes the appetite.
Elderberry candies, such as lollipops, are a clever way to deliver the herb's benefits to a reluctant child. The berries make lovely wines, cordials, jams and chutneys. Both elderflowers and berries are widely regarded as safe. However, if you are pregnant or nursing, or taking prescription medication, you should consult your physician before using this or any other herb.
There is some concern about the use of elderberries for those suffering with autoimmune issues. There seems to be little cohesive scientific or anecdotal evidence to strongly support or negate their use in these persons. I personally take this to mean that some autoimmune sufferers may experience flare-ups while others may not, and that it is largely individual to each person. If you do have an autoimmune disorder, please consult your specialist before using this or any other immune supporting or modulating herb.
Although some older sources indicate some medicinal value, the leaves and bark of elder trees are considered toxic. Avoid unripe berries, as they contain a cyanic glycoside until they are fully mature.
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Some sources also suggest heating the berries before use to ensure no toxic traces remain. Most often the foliage is green, although domesticated cultivars now appear with dark burgundy foliage. Elders should be planted in a semi-protected area not prone to high winds, as their brittle stems can snap in heavy gusts.
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Take care to water your elder frequently during establishment, and water your larger specimens during drought. Do not prune newly planted elders until well established. Some cultivars will require two different species of elder for pollination. With all the beautiful cultivars available, this is a great medicinal botanical to grow.
Elders can be found throughout most temperate regions and are not difficult to identify, making this an easy herb to forage. Harvest the flowers modestly.
Take care only to harvest ripe berries. Note: The stems of both the flowers and berries may cause digestive upset and should be carefully removed before using. My experience as a parent is that fevers always spike at bedtime. My kids will always doddle about with a low-grade fever during the day, only to get super toasty at night. My youngest likes to produce fevers that would bust the top right off an old-school thermometer.
I generally see a fever as a powerful part of the immune process that should not be suppressed. Low-grade fevers are an important part of the immune response and help the body's natural defense. However, it is important to discuss with your physician when a fever is entering some potentially scary territory. For those fevers that are uncomfortably high, leaving little ones in a perpetually fussy state and parents on edge, this elderflower glycerite gently cools the heat and promotes much needed rest for all. Elderflowers are naturally cooling with a delicate, sweet, floral flavor.
Vegetable glycerin is naturally sweet and viscous, which helps to ensure compliance when administering the glycerite. Add the vegetable glycerin and elderflowers to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Infuse the glycerin with the elderflower for a minimum of 6 weeks. After the infusion is complete, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup.
Pour into 1- or 2-ounce or ml amber glass dropper bottles.
Use within 1 year. NOTE: An alcohol-based elderflower tincture may be more effective for teens and adults. Strain and bottle. Oxymel sounds kind of esoteric and potion-y, right?