Wednesday, September 14, 2011

tree of medicine

 image found in google images

We have had about two weeks of sinus and respiratory troubles making their way throughout our home.   It has been a good time to use one of my favorite herbal treatments, the elderberry.

For thousands of years, elderberry has been known as the tree of medicine.  In folklore, it is said that Native Americans thought that elderberries could heal all and its consumption offered the gift of long life.  Hence the name elder.  Modern science has revealed that elderberry prevents the flu virus from spreading throughout your body.  Or taken as a preventative, it can even prevent it!  That is a lot of power in a little berry!

Elder can be taken (and is very effective) for:

  • colds and flu
  • fever
  • congestion (lung or sinus)
  • hay fever
  • skin tonic
  • burns
  • chapped hands
  • cuts, scratches
  • tonsillitis
  • sore throat

Elderberry plants (Sambucus nigra) grow natively throughout North America.  (If looking for it in the wild take care that you do not consume red elderberries as they are toxic.)  Often times you will find elderberry growing right alongside plants that cause allergies.  The remedy with the offender.  In herbalist circles they would call that the wisdom of mother nature, but from my perspective as a Christian, I see that as the providence of God.

During flu season we generally drink elderberry tea on a regular basis, three or four times a week.  I also make up a batch of elderberry syrup and keep it in the refrigerator for acute illness.  However, this time of year, when it is still reaching over 100 degrees everyday, it has not occurred to me to make the syrup.  Fortunately, the dried berries are a staple in my pantry and I always try to have some on hand.

To steep a cup of elderberry tea for medicinal purposes, I generally:
  • place one tablespoon of dried, black elderberries into a reusable tea bag
  • once the water is boiling and whistling away, I pour it over the tea bag
  • place a saucer over the top of the cup so the steam stays put
  • mix in a spoonful of honey (which contains its own healing properties)
This creates a very strong tea that children may not prefer.  For children, I would use 2 teaspoons of dried berries.  An added treat for a sick child is to use an organic lolli as the stir stick.  That always seems to brighten their day!

If symptoms come upon you and you have no elderberries in sight, there are some very nice and effective elderberry syrups on the market.  I have tried both this one and this one.

*Curious to know where I've learned this information?  Visit the Vintage Remedies button on the side bar there.  I am currently enrolled in their Master Herbalist program.  Two other great sources are  A Kid's Herb Book and the Vintage Remedies handbook.

ps- I'm not a doctor.  I'm just trying to pass on what has been effective for me and thousands of other people over hundreds and hundreds of years.  If you feel that you need medical attention, please go see your doctor.


The Farmers said...

I have been drinking the tea and taking the syrup as soon as I started to feel down. This is my first year to use it. Thank you for telling more about it.

Rosie_Kate said...

Ooh, I love elderberry! I actually planted a couple bushes by my house last year so that I can have my own supply. They grew amazingly fast and are huge this year and have been loaded with berries. My stinker chickens took care of all the berries that hung low, but I got lots for making tincture, too. I use the tincture for all of us, all year round.