There are over 20 species and many cultivars grown for edible berries, which contain flavanoids, sugar, fruit acid and vitamin C. The flowers contain essential oil, flavonoids (rutin, quercertin), alkaloids, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Elder contains more vitamin C than any herb, except for rosehips and black currant. Elder also contains a constituent ursolic acid, which reduces inflammation. Whether elder is used for culinary or medicinal purposes, the berries and flowers have excellent curing power.
Medicinal Treatment and Cosmetic Benefits of Elder
Elder tea made from equal parts elder flower, peppermint and yarrow flowers effectively reduces fever and treats flu, colds, hay fever and sinus congestion. An elder flower gargle reduces the pain and selling of a sore throat. A strong, strained elder flower tea made with distilled water is an excellent eye wash. This same tea also treats severe infections such as conjunctivitis.
Elder flower is a common ingredient found in salves for cuts, burns and swellings. Elder berries are used to treat cases of rheumatism and gout. A rinse of elder flower water is a refreshing skin toner. Skin washes and cosmetics made with elder flower refine the complexion and heal eczema and psoriasis.
The 17th century The Anatomie of the Elder, by Dr. Martin Blokwich, recorded over 70 diseases that were treatable with elder berries. These diseases include: cephalic affections, deliria, melancholy, epilepsy, apoplexy and palsy, toothache, blemishes of the face and head, diseases of the mouth and throat, dyspnoea, asthma, cough, hoarseness, catarrhs, eye afflictions, pleurisy, phthisis, fainting, feminine breast issues, fevers, small pox, measles, stomach and intestinal problems, diarrhea, dysentery, costiveness, hemorrhoids, mesentery and liver obstructions, menstrual and womb afflictions, arthritis, herpes and ulcers, just to mention a few.
A Culinary Look at Elder
Although elder is used for many culinary purposes, the leaves and fruit should never be eaten raw. They create a harsh laxative effect on the body. The flowers are eaten raw, fried as fritters or pickled when they are young buds. The flowers are used to flavor drinks and fruit desserts. The berries are delicious when mixed with other fruits for preserves, jellies and jams.
The flowers and berries are also used to make wine. A 17th century botanist stated the view that the “berries greatly assist longevity.” So, in his time period, the British supplied elderberry cordials in their coffee houses and eating establishments. The flowers look beautiful floating in a bowl or served in a glass of traditional elder berry punch, which is loaded with vitamin C.
History of the Cure All Known as Elder
Once regarded as a ‘cure all’, it was the main ingredient in many ancient herbal remedies. Many species of elder have been used as medicines by Native Americans, ancient Egyptians and Europeans. It was called “the medicine chest of the country people” in Europe. The earliest use of elder has been traced back to the ancient Egyptians applying the flowers to improve their complexions and heal burns.
Elder has a strong history rich in folkloric tradition common in many cultures. It was held sacred by gypsy tribes for its protective mystical powers. It was also linked with the Jewish Cabbala. The root of the word elder, referring to both and elderly person and the tree, comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for old, eald. A folk tale attributes the longevity of an old man and his extremely elder people to good health and a simple diet of elderberries.
The herbal tree, Elder, is often overlooked but possess strong powers for healing and treating over seventy diseases – read at http://optinghealth.com/. Packed with many nutrients and one of the highest herb sources for vitamin C, elder is able to fight off colds and flu. Whether the preparation is a hot tea, tonic, wine or punch, the effectiveness of this common herb remains in tact. In the kitchen its usefulness makes a welcomed addition for desserts, jams and preserves. As a favorite of the Europeans and Egyptians, its discovery was held in high esteem as and overall good treatment for healthy living.