Mountain Rose Herbs

Elder Berries

Also known as

Sambucus spp (Nigra for berries and Canadensis for flowers) American Elder, Common Elder, Black Elder, Bour Tree, and European Black Elder.

Introduction

European elder is a plant native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western-and Central Asia. Its flowers and berries have a long history of use in traditional European medicine. Elder berries have also been used for making preserves, wines, winter cordials, and for adding flavor and color to other wines.

Constituents

Potassium nitrate, sambucin, sambunigrin, sugars. The complex sugars of the berries are the immune-active fraction.

Parts Used

Most commonly the flowers or berries. Dried fruits are less bitter than fresh.

The branches and leaves are poisonous. The small stem which is sometimes left on the berry is safe.

Typical Preparations

Teas, tinctures, encapsulations, syrups, wine, cordials, and even ketchup, often combined with propolis or echinacea.

Precautions

None for flowers. According to the Botanical Safety Handbook*, the unripe and raw fruit, seeds, bark and leaves contain a component, sambunigrin, which may cause vomiting or severe diarrhea if ingested.

*Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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