Part Used: Dried Flower
Elder (Sambucus canadensis), also known as Elderberry, is small tree that grows to 12 feet and is native to North America. The European Elder (nigra) grows to 30 feet, is found throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and has been naturalized in the United States. The tree has been called "the medicine chest of the common people. Elder leaves contain the flavonoids rutin and quercertin, alkaloids, vitamin C and sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside. Fresh Elder leaves also contain hydrocyanic acid, cane sugar, invertin, betulin, free fatty acids, and a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate. Elder flowers and Elder flower water have been used in a variety of ways topically and as a tonic mixture. Flowers of Elder are diaphoretic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, and topically anti-inflammatory.
Elder flowers are a mild astringent and are used in skin washes to refine the complexion and help relieve eczema, acne and psoriasis. Flower water makes a soothing gargle and when strained makes an excellent eye wash. It is commonly used topically for infections, inflammations and swelling; as a wash for skin healing and complexion purification; as a tea and cordial to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress; and cooked and used in jams and conserves. The fresh flowers are diaphoretic when administered as a hot infusion. This action is less marked in the dried flowers due to the loss of much of the volatile oil component. The bioflavonoids stimulate the circulation, and Sambucus flowers, combined with Achillea and Mentha, are specific for the treatment of colds and influenza. A cold, strained infusion of the flowers is a soothing remedy for inflamed eyes, and can be used as a gargle for mouth ulcers and tonsillitis. The flowers also have an expectorant action, thereby alleviating lung congestion; they also have a direct action one of the mechanisms involved in the production of mucus so that excess catarrh is checked. It is therefore beneficial in bronchitis and even pneumonia.The flowers are mildly relaxing and can be used where there is agitation and restlessness; there is a direct effect on the nervous system inducing relaxation of all visceral functions.
Herbal Information Center. http://www.kcweb.com/herb/elderberry.htm
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/elder.htm