Elderberry (Sambucus) is a member of the Adoxaceae and has been used medicinally for hundreds of years and was used as a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. It contains organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitamins A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. It is also a mild laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic.
Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, influenza (flu), bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995 so we all know by now that it is a powerful little berry.
Elderberry is a dark blue, purplish berry that is both rich in colour and nutrition. Both the skin and pulp of this berry can be eaten. But, it is very important to note that although enriched with numerous health benefits most uncooked berries and other parts of the plants from this genus are poisonous so Sambucus nigra is the variety of elderberry that is most often used for its health benefits as it is the only variety considered to be non-toxic even when not cooked.
Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms so if you can’t get hold of the fruit itself, its many forms can be found worldwide in health food stores especially herbal stores, so you too can achieve its benefits. Elderberry can cause mild indigestion or allergic reactions in some individuals. However, such side effects are very rare.