This years cold and flu season is particularly nasty. If you haven’t noticed, the news lately is littered with health notices and stories about the “Super Crud” and it’s not a surprise, it’s flu and cold season. As a supplement or alternative to other flu/cold medicines, herbalists for years have recognized the Elder plant (Elderberry) as a terrific aid. Tea made from the flowers possesses fantastic and well documented immuno-protective properties. Tea of elder flower tastes good too and is safe for children!
The plant itself can range from a large shrub to a 30 foot tree. Flowering white, flat-top blossoms and berries that turn from green to red to black when ripe, is an easy indicator that you have found the this sought after helper. Sambucus nigra, or Black Elder, is most commonly used for medicinal purposes.
So what does this Elder plant do for you? Orally, use the elder flower to treat colds and the flu. Topically, it is used to treat wounds. Some research shows that a chemical found in the flower and berry could help the reduction in mucous membrane swelling and relieve nasal congestion. Elderberry also holds anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.
Here is a short list of peer reviewed journal articles on the antiviral property of Elderberry. There are many more studies out there on this amazing plant. Enjoy!