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Herb Information
Name: Elderberry
Biological Name: Sambucus nigra
Other Names:Black elder, black-berried European elder, boor tree, bountry, elder, ellanwood, ellhorn, European elder, German Elder, elderberry
Parts Used: root, bark, young shoots, leaves, flowers, fruit
Active Compounds:  

The flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic effects of the elderberry flowers and berries. 

According to laboratory research, an extract from the leaves, combined with St. john's wort and soapwort, inhibits the influenza virus and herpes simplex virus. 

A study in humans determined that an extract of elderberries is an effective treatment for influenza. Animal studies have shown the flowers to have anti-inflammatory properties.


Elderberries have long been used as food, particularly in the dried form. Elderberry wine, pie, and lemonade are some of the popular ways to prepare this plant as food. The leaves were touted to be pain relieving and to promote healing of injuries when applied as a poultice. 

Native Americans used the plant for infections, coughs, and skin conditions.

Remedies For

Elderberry is useful for:

Common cold/sore throat
Herpes simplex
Influenza (flu)

Elderberry juice is a wonderful as a cleanser. It is very rich. Dilute it with other juices if you wish. The juice is especially good as a tonic for the reproductive and glandular system, and elderberry blossoms, when dried, can be used as a kidney tea.

A tea made from the leaves and young shoots increases the production of urine and helps to eliminate excess water from the body. In proper dosages, black elder remedies can be used for urinary problems, kidney problems, dropsy, edema, rheumatic ailments, and constipation. The tea of the flowers promotes perspiration and is used particularly for colds and for rheumatic complaints.

The berries are not to be eaten raw and the fresh juice is not to be used. Cook the berries lightly, whether it is for eating or for the juice. An elderberry jam is mildly laxative and is suitable for irritated or inflamed intestines and for small children.


Elderberry grows in Europe and North America. The flowers and berries are used therapeutically.

Black elder may take the form of a shrub or small tree, 10 to 30 feet high. It is generally found in moist, shady places and among underbrush. It is also cultivated. 

The bark is light brown near the bottom of the stem, gray-white higher up, somewhat torn and stippled with warts. The leaves are opposite, odd-pinnate; the leaflets ovate, acuminate, finely serrate, dark green.

In June and July black elder sports cymes of white to yellow white flowers, which develop into berries that turn from green through red-brown to shiny black.


Liquid elderberry extract is taken in amounts of 5 ml (for children) to 10 ml (for adults) twice per day. 

A tea made from 3-5 grams of the dried flowers steeped in 250 ml (1 cup) boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes may also be drunk three times per day.

The bark and root bark must be used fresh.

Use 1 level tsp. Bark or root bark to 1/2 cup boiling water. Take no more than 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.


There are no known adverse reactions to elderberry.

The fresh plant is poisonous. American elder's toxic content is higher than that of the European elder. However, when cooked, the berries are harmless. 

Some people have reported dizziness and even stupor when taking elder as a laxative.

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