This summer I worked with Black Elder at the Applied Spirit of Herbs workshop. The flowering little tree was hard to miss. Its gorgeous white flower heads popped up in the green fabric of the forest.
The Elder tree is a medicine chest in its own right. The leaves are used externally for wounds, bruises and sprains. Elder flower preparations are used for the treatment of colds and flu. The flower is also indicated for seasonal allergies / hay fever. It is specific for the “stuffed head” symptoms and blocked ears due to excess mucous production. Elderberry extract has well-documented anti-viral effects and frequently is a remedy of choice for both adults and kids at the onset of cold or flu. It has diaphoretic (increasing the perspiration during fever), anticatarrhal (decreasing mucous) and antispasmodic properties.
It could be used as a tea, tincture or syrup. Fresh leaves could be used to make a medicinal ointment for topical use. I made a fresh flower essence of this herb and I am yet to discover its properties!
Elder flower tea is one of my favourite herbal teas and it is indispensable during cold/flu or during an allergy season. To make tea mix 1-2 teaspoons of Elder flowers (dry or fresh) with 1 cup hot water. Steep for 10 minutes and drink hot three times a day. For tincture doses and duration please consult your naturopath or a registered herbalist.