Elderberry Sambucus nigra
Part used: berries, flowers
Effect on Dosha: VPK=
Taste: berry-sweet, sour, bitter/flower-slightly bitter, pungent
Energy: berry-neutral to cooling/ flower-cooling
Post Digestive Effect: berries-sweet/flowers-pungent
Tissues: plasma, blood, muscle, fat
Systems: respiratory, immune, digestive, circulatory, urinary
Properties: antioxidant, immune tonic, astringent, expectorant, diaphoretic, digestive, carminative, relaxant.
Indications: coughs, colds, sore throat, tonsillitis, congestion, respiratory infections, asthma, fever, flu, gas, allergies, abdominal discomfort, inflammation, high cholesterol, poor eyesight.
Preparations: infusion, tincture, syrup, winter cordials, medicated wine, food preparation.
Precautions: None for flowers. According to the Botanical Safety Handbook* the unripe and raw fruit contains sambunigrin, which may cause nausea, vomiting or severe diarrhea. Avoid elderberries that are red in color. The fruit is commonly cooked to avoid digestive upset and possible toxicity or the fresh fruit. Sambucus nigra is the variety most commonly used in herbal medicine and is considered to be relatively safe, especially when cooked.
The most common variety of Elderberry used is the purplish-black berries of Sumbucus nigra. They are sweet, sour and slightly bitter to the taste. The ripened fruit is purple/black in color and the sweetest berries are the best to harvest for medicine making.
Elderberries have long been used in in folk herbal traditions of North America and Europe. In recent years, Elderberry has regained popularity and this increased interest has spurn research that seems to confirm much of its common folk uses. They have antiviral and antibacterial properties and are used to bolster the immune system in the treatment of common colds,