The elderberry is a plant with healing properties that are widely used in phytotherapy and natural medicine. Do you know this wonder of nature?
Often, elderberry is used as an essence, which is obtained and used to prepare herbal teas and infusions that can be effective against colds and respiratory diseases. Let’s learn more about the health benefits and contraindications.
Elderberry: properties and uses in the kitchen
Its botanical name is Sambucus Nigra, a plant belonging to the Caprifoliaceae family. It grows spontaneously as a shrub or small tree. Its characteristic flower appears between May and June.
It develops in fragrant and white or cream-white clusters which after some time give way to a bluish or black fruit (drupe). The elderberry essence is obtained by drying fruits and inflorescences. It is recognized for its typical aromatic smell and yellowish color.
Elderberry has very strong healing properties that derive from itsPhyto complex, rich in important active ingredients. Among these: Sambucin, Sambunigrin, Rutin, Isoquercetin, Astragaline, Campferol, essential oil, free fatty acids, tannin (in the bark); Emulsin, Invertin, Sambunigrin, Benaldehyde (in the leaves). But also: tannin, choline, mucilage, malate, valerianic acid, tartaric acid (in the flowers). And then anthocyanins, wax, gum, acetate, maleate, tartaric acid, citric acid (in fruits).
“In folk medicine, elderberry has been used in the treatment of many diseases and ailments. Elderberry has medicinal properties associated with the presence of polyphenols, which are compounds with potential antioxidant properties.” (Sidor et al., 2015)
The main properties of the elderberry can be summarized as follows:
- diuretic property
- diaphoretic property
- laxative property
- emetic property
- antineuralgic properties
In herbal medicine, the elderberry plant is mainly used for its flowers and leaves for the preparation of infusions and decoctions. These are highly appreciated preparations for their ability to promote the elimination of toxins and counteract respiratory tract diseases (asthma, coughs, and colds).
In this sense, the flavones contained in the plant act with a vasodilating effect that favors the elimination of mucus.
Thanks to these properties, elderberry is used to improve peripheral blood circulation. Similarly, it is used as a compress to relieve burns, abrasions, and counteract the breaking of capillaries. It is also an excellent ally against joint pain, swelling, and muscle pain on the legs, ankles, and back.
In the phytotherapeutic field, it is used as a diaphoretic for the treatment of diseases affecting the respiratory, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic system. The diaphoretic function consists of increasing body sweating and accelerating the healing process from common diseases such as fever, cold, cough, and bronchitis.
Elderberry nutritional properties
From a nutritional point of view, it is particularly rich in vitamins of group A, vitamin B, and C (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C) together with flavonoids, triterpenes, glycosides, sugars, and tannins.
Elderberries, in particular, are rich in water, fiber, and mineral salts such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, sodium, and calcium, which make them an excellent natural remedy in the case of lazy intestine and constipation.
Elderberry therapeutic properties
“Recent years have seen a surge in research concerning bioactive compounds in food. The plant world is a source of many substances affecting the functionality of the human organism and its status. One of the relatively little-known sources of bioactive compounds is elderberry, the consumption of which provides prevention and therapy for a number of diseases.” (Sidor et al., 2015)
The therapeutic properties of this plant act on a broad spectrum of a variety of very common painful symptoms and diseases. In this sense, elderberry stands out for its therapeutic properties with diuretic, diaphoretic, antineuralgic, emollient, laxative, anti fibrillation, emetic, antirheumatic, slightly anti-inflammatory, stimulating, and purifying action.
In addition to the uses already listed for flowers and leaves, the berries of this plant are also used above all to promote the well-being of the digestive system. It helps to counteract constipation and facilitate intestinal motility. To take advantage of its almost immediate laxative effect it is possible to take a decoction or herbal tea of berries of this plant combined with the bark of the plant which has diuretic and calming properties.
The intake of berry-based decoctions and herbal teas is not recommended for dysenteric subjects or those suffering from chronic inflammatory disorders of the rectum. It is therefore advisable to always consult your GP.
Even if elderberry is a fairly safe substance, its use must always be followed by a specialist who can dose the right quantities in the preparations. Eating fresh leaves and seeds of this plant is also extremely dangerous because they contain a highly toxic substance, sambunigrin, a toxic glycoside. Even contact with fresh flowers and leaves on the skin can trigger violent irritation and erythema.
Ripe purple fruits are the only ones that can be used in the kitchen and in any case never in excessive quantities.
Its consumption is not recommended in case of concomitant intake of diuretics, iron supplements, and in all those cases of ascertained intolerance or hypersensitivity to one of its active ingredients.
Of course, you can choose to intake your daily dose of elderberry with delicious gummies, which usually combine elderberry with vitamin C and zinc, to support the normal function of the immune system. In the case of tiredness or lack of tone, these protective candies will help you fight fatigue and feel in good shape.
In addition to an elderberry extract, immune-boosting gummy candies contain vitamin C and zinc, two natural antioxidants that help protect the body’s cells from oxidative stress. By supporting the body’s natural defenses, these gummies are a great solution to protect your well-being.
These gummies have been developed for adults and children (over 3 years old). By supporting the body’s natural defenses, they will allow your children to grow healthy and strong.
Verify the certified origin of the gummies, which should only contain the highest quality ingredients, so that you can feel comfortable with what you are ingesting. Remember that they exist in non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and preservative-free versions as well!