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Medicinal Trees: Elder (Sambucus)

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The Elderberries and their relatives are not native to my region but can be cultivated.

Dioscorides wrote of two members of this family, calling them Akte and Chamaiakte:

AKTE - Sambucus], Sambcus nigra, Elder Tree, Arn Tree, Boon Tree

Acte has two types; one is like a tree with reed-like branches — round, hollow, whitish and a good length. The three or four leaves are set at distancesaround the stem, like the carya, more jagged, and with a strong smell. On the top are branches or stalks on which are round tufts with white flowers, and a fruit like terminthos of a somewhat purplish black, growing in clusters, full of juice, smacking of wine. It is also called arbor ursi, orsativa; the Romans call itsambucus, the Gauls, scobie, and the Dacians, seba.

CHAMAIAKTE - Ebulus, Sambucus ebulus, Dwarf Elder, Ground Elder, Danewort


The other kind is called chamaiacte. This has a creeping rhizome and is smaller and more herb-like, with a foursquare stalk that has many joints. The leaves are spread out at distances around every joint, like the almond tree, cut-in all around, and longer, with a strong scent, and having a tuft on the top like that above, and with a similar flower and fruit. The long root lies underneath, the thickness of a finger. This has the same properties and uses as that above — drying, expelling water, yet bad for the stomach. The leaves (boiled as vegetables) purge phlegm and bile, and the stalks (boiled as a vegetable) do the same. The roots (boiled with wine and given with meat) are good for dropsy. A decoction (taken as a drink) helps those bitten by vipers. Boiled with water for bathing it softens the womb and opens the vagina, and sets to rights any disorders around it. A decoction of the fruit (taken as a drink with wine) does the same things, and rubbed on it darkens the hair. The new tender leaves (smeared on with polenta) lessen inflammation, and smeared on, they are good for burns and dog bites. Smeared on with bull or goat grease they heal hollow ulcers, and help gout. It is also called heliosacte, sylvestris sambucus, or euboica; the Romans call it ebulus, the Gauls, ducone, and the Dacians, olma.

Saint Hildegard von Bingen wrote of Elder:

… one who has jaundice should enter a sauna bath and place the leaves of the tree on hot rocks. He should pour water over them, and then place a twig in pure wine, so that it takes its flavor. While in the bath, he should drink this in moderation. After he comes out of the bath, he should lie in bed, so that he sweats. He should do this often and he will be better.

Gerard wrote of “Common Elder”:

A. Galen attributeth the like faculty to Elder that he doth to Danewort, and saith that it is of a drying quality, gluing, and moderately digesting: and it hath not only these faculties, but others also; for the bark, leaves, first buds, flowers, and fruit of Elder, do not only dry, but also heat, and have withal a purging quality, but not without trouble and hurt to the stomach.

B. The leaves and tender crops of common Elder taken in some broth or pottage open the belly, purging both thick phlegm and choleric humours: the middle bark is of the same nature, but stronger, and purgeth the said humours more violently.

C. The seeds contained within the berries dried are good for such as have the dropsy, and such as are too fat, and would fain be leaner, if they be taken in a morning to the quantity of a dram with wine for a certain space.

D. The leaves of Elder boiled in water until they be very soft, and when they are almost boiled enough a little oil of sweet Almonds added thereto, or a little Linseed oil; then taken forth and laid upon a red cloth, or a piece of scarlet, and applied to the haemorrhoids or piles as hot as can be suffered, and so let to remain upon the part affected, until it be somewhat cold, having the like in a readiness, applying one after another upon the diseased part, by the space of an hour or more, and in the end some bound to the place, and the patient put warm a-bed; it hath not as yet failed at the first dressing to cure the said disease; but if the patient be dressed twice it must needs do good if the first fail.

E. The green leaves pounded with deer's suet or bull's tallow are good to be laid to hot swellings and tumors, and doth assuage the pain of the gout.

F. The inner and green bark doth more forcibly purge: it draweth forth choler and watery humours; for which cause it is good for those that have the dropsy, being stamped, and the liquor pressed out and drunk with wine or whey.

G. Of like operation are also the fresh flowers mixed with some kind of meat, as fried with eggs, they likewise trouble the belly and move to the stool: being dried they lose as well their purging quality as their moisture, and retain the digesting and attenuating quality.

H. The vinegar in which the dried flowers are steeped are wholesome for the stomach: being used with meat it stirreth up an appetite, it cutteth and attenuateth or maketh thin gross and raw humours.

I. The faculty of the seed is somewhat gentler than that of the other parts: it also moveth the belly, and draweth forth watery humours, being beaten to powder, and given to a dram weight: being new gathered, steeped in vinegar, and afterwards dried, it is taken, and that effectually, in the like weight of the dried lees of wine, and with a few Anise seeds, for so it worketh without any manner of trouble, and helpeth those that have the dropsy. But it must be given for certain days together in a little wine, to those that have need thereof.

K. The jelly of the Elder, otherwise called Jew's ear, hath a binding and drying quality: the infusion thereof, in which it hath been steeped a few hours, taketh away inflammations of the mouth, and almonds of the throat in the beginning, if the mouth and throat be washed therewith, and doth in like manner help the uvula.

L. Dioscorides saith, that the tender and green leaves of the Elder tree, with barley meal parched, do remove hot swellings, and are good for those that are burnt or scalded, and for such as be bitten with a mad dog, and that they glue and heal up hollow ulcers.

M. The pith of the young boughs is without quality: This being dried, and somewhat pressed or quashed together, is good to lay upon the narrow orifices or holes of fistulas and issues, if it be put therein.

Of Dwarf Elder, he wrote:

A. The roots of Wallwort boiled in wine and drunken are good against the dropsy, for they purge downwards watery humours.

B. The leaves do consume and waste away hard swellings if they be applied poultice-wise, or in a fomentation or bath.

C. Dioscorides saith, that the roots of Wallwort do soften and open the matrix, and also correct the infirmities thereof, if they be boiled for a bath to sit in; and dissolve the swellings and pains of the belly.

D. The juice of the root of Danewort doth make the hair black.

E. The young and tender leaf quencheth hot inflammations, being applied with barley meal: it is with good success laid upon burnings, scaldings, and upon the bitings of mad dogs; and with bull's tallow or goat's suet it is a remedy for the gout.

F. The seed of Wallwort drunk in the quantity of a dram is the most excellent purger of watery humours in the world, and therefore most singular against the dropsy.

G. If one scruple of the seed be bruised and taken with syrup of Roses and a little sack, it cureth the dropsy, and easeth the gout, mightily purging downwards waterish humours, being once taken in the week.

Culpepper said of both Elder and Dwarf Elder:

Both the elder and dwarf tree are under the dominion of Venus. The first shoots of the common elder boiled like asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks boiled in fat broth, doth mightily carry forth phlegm and choler. The middle or inward bark boiled in water, and given in drink, worketh much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry expel the same humour, and are often given with good success to help the dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drank, worketh the same effects, but more powerfully than either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, doth mightily procure vomitings, and purgeth the watery humours of the dropsy. The decoction of the root taken, cureth the biting of an adder, and biting of mad dogs. It mollifieth the hardness of the mother, if women sit thereon, and openeth their veins, and bringeth down their courses: The berries boiled in wine performeth the same effect; and the hair of the head washed therewith is made black. The juice of the green leaves applied to the hot inflammations of the eyes assuageth them; the juice of the leaves snuffed up into the nostrils, purgeth the tunicles of the brain; the juice of the berries boiled with honey, and dropped into the ears, helpeth the pains of them; the decoction of the berries in wine being drank provoketh urine: the distilled water, of the flowers is of much use to clean the skin from sun-burning, freckles, morphew, or the like; and taketh away the head-ach, coming of a cold cause, the head being bathed therewith. The leaves or flowers distilled in the month of May, and the legs often washed with the said distilled water, it taketh away the ulcers and sores of them. The eyes washed therewith, it taketh away the redness and bloodshot; and the hands washed morning and evening therewith, helpeth the palsy, and shaking of them.

The dwarf elder is more powerful than the common elder in opening and purging choler, phlegm, and water; in helping the gout, piles, and women's diseases, coloureth the hair black, helpeth the inflammations of the eyes, and pains in the ears, the biting of serpents, or mad dogs, burnings and scaldings, the wind cholic, cholic and stone, the difficulty of urine, the cure of old sores and fistulous ulcers. Either leaves or bark of elder, stripped upwards as you gather it, causeth vomiting. Also Dr. Butler, in a manuscript of his, commends dwarfelder to the sky for dropsies, viz to drink it, being boiled in white wine; to drink the decoction I mean, not the elder.

Mrs. Grieve made a point of differentiating the true Elders from those so called in the Acer family:

Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, purgative.

The Dwarf Elder has more drastic therapeutic action than the Common Elder, and it is only the leaves, or very occasionally the berries, that are used medicinally. The leaves are probably more used in herbal practice than those of Sambucus nigra, and are ingredients in medicines for inflammation of both kidney and liver. The drug is said to be very efficacious in dropsy. Dwarf Elder Tea, which has been considered one of the best remedies for dropsy, is prepared from the dried roots, cut up fine or ground to powder; the drug was much used by Kneipp.

The root, which is white and fleshy, has a nauseous, bitter taste and a decoction from it is a drastic purgative. Culpepper states that the decoction cures the bites of mad dogs and adders. The root-juice has been employed to dye hair black.

The leaves, bruised and laid on boils and scalds, have a healing effect, and boiled in wine and made into a poultice were employed in France to resolve swellings and relieve contusions.

A rob made from the berries is actively purgative.

An oil extracted from the seeds has been used as an application to painful joints.

Mice and moles are said not to come near the leaves, and in Silesia there is a belief that it prevents some of the diseases of swine, being strewn in sties.

In the United States, the name of Dwarf Elder is given to an entirely different plant, viz. Aralia hispida (N.O. Araliaceae). In Homoeopathy, it is the American Dwarf Elder which is employed. There it is also called Bristly Sarsaparilla and Wild Elder. It is found growing in rocky places in North America.

The homoeopaths use a tincture from the fresh, root and a fluid extract is also prepared from it. It has sudorific, diuretic and alterative properties and is regarded as very valuable in dropsy, gravel and in suppression of urine. It is particularly recommended as a diuretic in dropsy, being more acceptable to the stomach than other remedies of the same class.

The 'Prickly Elder' of America is a closely related species, A. spinosa, also known as False Prickly Ash (the real Prickly Ash being Xanthoxylum Americanum), which contains a glucoside named Aralin. A decoction of the plant is used for the same purposes as Sarsaparilla.

The 'Poison Elder' of America is again no Elder, but a Sumach, its other name being Swamp Sumach, botanically Rhus verni (Linn.). It is a handsome shrub or small tree, 10 to 15 feet high, growing in swamps from Canada to California, with very small greenish flowers and small greenish-white berries and is extremely poisonous. It was confounded by the older botanists with R. vernicifera (D.C.) of Japan, the Japanese lacquer tree, which has similar poisonous properties. Its synonym is R. venenata (D.C.) See SUMACH.

There is a tree called the 'Box Elder,' mentioned by W. J. Bean in his Trees and Shrubs hardy in the British Isles; this is not a true Elder, however, but one of the American maples that yield sugar.

There are about half a dozen species of Elder hardy in Great Britain. The Common Elder (S. nigra), of which there are many varieties in cultivation, several of which are very ornamental, has leaves often very finely divided and jagged and variegated both with golden and silver blotches, a specially ornamental form being the 'golden cut-leaf Elder,' and another with yellow berries; the American Elder (S. canadensis) (the flowers of which, together with those of S. nigra are official in the United States Pharmacopoeia) has berries smaller and deep purple rather than black, the leaves broader and the flowers more fragrant than our Common Elder, it never attains tree size, but is a shrub of from 6 to 10 feet in height; the Blue Elder (S. glauca), the intensely blue berries of which are used as a food, when cooked, in California; the Red-berried Elder (S. racemosa), a pretty species, native of Central and Southern Europe, cultivated in shrubberies, which flowers in March and towards the end of summer is highly ornamental, with large oval clusters of bright scarlet berries, is so attractive to birds that their beauty is rarely seen, except when cultivated close to a house; the Red-berried American Elder (S. rubens and S. melanocarpa).

An Irish Herbal states:

Elder. The leaves, tender tops and inner bark purge bilious conditions. A small amount of seed pounded and taken in wine will disperse all accumulation of water fluid. The green leaves are good against all sorts of inflammations, while the flowers expel wind from the stomach. The berries can be used in gargles for sore mouths and throats.

Dwarf Elder. It is very beneficial in causing watery evacuations.

Fr. Kneipp wrote with particular enthusiasm of both Elder and Dwarf Elder:

Common Elder.

In the good old times the elder-bush stood nearest to the house, but now it is in many ways displaced and rooted up. It ought to stand near every house as pait of the household, as it were; or if cast aside it should be brought back to its post of honour, for every part of the elder-tree, leaves, blossoms, berries, bark and roots are all efficacious remedies. In spring time, vigorous nature strives to throw off matters that have gathered together in the body during winter. Who does not know these states, the so-called "spring diseases", such as eruptions, diarrhoea, colic, and such like?

Whoever wishes to purify juices and blood by a spring course of medicine, and to get rid of injurious matters in the easiest and most natural way, let hirn take six or eight leaves of the elder-tree, cut them up small, like one cuts tobacco, and let the tea boil for about ten minutes.

Then take daily during the whole course, one cup of this tea, fasting, an hour before breakfast. This most simple blood -purifying tea cleanses the machine of the human body in an excellent manner, and with poor people it takes the place of the pills and Alpine herbs, and such like which now-a-days are found in fine medicine chests, and which have often very strange effects

This course may also be undertaken at any other time of the year. Even the withered leaves make a good purifying tea.

Who has not eaten cakes made with elder flowers, the Suabian so-called "little cakes"? Many people bake them just at the time when the tree is shining in iis white spring-adornments, and they say these flower-cakes are a protection against fever. I know a place which is often visited with the ague, and there in spring you will see these elder-flower or fever-cakes on every table.

I have never examined this minutely and critically; let those people remain in their faith, for such fare is good and wholesome

Elder-flowers also purify, and it, would be good if in every home-dispensary a box of dried flowers were kept.

Winter is long, and cases can occur in which such a dissolving and sudorific little remedy may prove of excellent service. Harm can never be done by it.

From organisms in which dropsy has commenced, elder-root prepared as tea, drives out the water so powerfully, that it is scarcely excelled by any other medicament.

The berries which in autumn are often boiled and eaten as porridge or marmalade, were highly esteemed by our forefathers as a blood-purifying remedy. My departed mother undertook such an elder-flower course every year for a fortnight to three weeks. This was the chief reason why our ancestors forty or fifty years ago, had at least two elder-trees planted before their houses. As the higher classes now-a-days travel, and often to distant lands, to make use of the expensive grape cure, so our parents and grandparents used to go to the elder-tree which was close at hand, and which served them so cheaply and often much better than the expensive grapes. Some years ago, I was among the Austrian Alps, and saw there to my great joy how the elder -tree was still honoured. "Of that," said on old peasant to me, "we do not let a single berry go to waste." How simple, how sensible! Even the birds before they commence their autumnal travels seek out everywhere the elder-trees in order to purify their blood and strengthen their nature for their long journey. What a pity that man, on account of art and affectation no longer feels or takes notice of all these natural instincts,"the sound mind !"

If the berries are boiled down with sugar, or better still with honey, they will prove especially good in winter time for people who have but little exercise and are condemned to a sedentary mode of life. A spoonful of the above preserve stirred in a glass of water, makes the most splendid cooling and refreshing drink, operates on the secretion of the urine, and has a good effect on the kidneys.

Many country people dry the berries. But whether these dried berries are boiled as porridge, or stewed eat, or eaten dry, in all forms they are an excellent remedy against violent diarrhoea. Because the exceedingly good services rendered by the elder-tree, are no longer remembered; this faithful and formerly so highly esteemed house-hold friend is in many ways rejected. May the old friend be brought once more to honour!

[i]Dwarf Elder. (Sambucus ebulus L.)

On the borders of woods, especially in parts which have been thinned, the dwarf elder may be seen standing above three feet high, bearing in July the great white umbellar blossoms, and in autumn the splendid, heavy, and bright umbellar grapes. Tea prepared from such roots, expels the water, and purifies the kidneys, it is therefore of extraordinary effect in cases of dropsy. I know several cases in which the rather advanced disease has been entirely cured by such tea. Also against other complaints in the abdomen, springing from bad juices, it operates well: it removes the juices through the urine. Dwarf-elder tea prepared from the powder has the same effect. For one cup of tea, which should be taken in two doses at different parts of the day, a pinch of this powder will be sufficient. Late in autumn the roots are gathered and thoroughly dried in the air, and then the dried roots themselves, or the powder made by crushing them, are kept in the house dispensary.

Brother Aloysius wrote of Elder and Dwarf Elder:

Elder flowers are undoubtedly the most well known diaphoretic in use and cam be successfully employed at the onset of all kinds of chills. The inner rind of one year old shoots, mixed with half a quantity of licorice, is an excellent remedy for dropsy. The leaves drunk as tea, are a depurative. The infusion should contain 1/4th to 1/3rd cup per two cups boiling water.

The well known elder syrup can be made from berries picked in autumn. The infusion of elder flowers contains 4 to 5 tablespoons per two cups boiling water. Elder flowers boiled in milk with a slice of white bread soaked in it, applied between linen cloths on burning eyes soon draws out all burning; sore eyes are also soon healed by this remedy. A good laxative is 4 to 5 teaspoons of elder berries. Elder leaves, boiled in milk, are beneficial for scurf; they are depurative and laxative. The dosage is 1 to 2 cups daily.

Dwarf Elder:

The root is used medicinally and should be gathered in July. The decoction contains 1 to 2 tablespoons per 2 cups water and is very beneficial for the treatment of dropsy. A larger dose acts as a purgative. Gout and podagra are soon cured by the application of elder root, boiled for quite a long time in wine dregs. Flowers and leaves, boiled to a paste, are highly recommended for sciatica, rheumatism and paralysis. This, alone, will cure these complaints. It can also be fruitfully used in the treatment of neuralgia.

Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests states:

The juice of the root has been highly recommended in dropsy as a hydragogue cathartic, sometimes acting as an emetic, in the dose of a tablespoonful, repeated every day with less frequency if it act with violence. Dr. Stratton, of New Jersey, uses a syrup in place of Sarsaparilla, made with the juice of the berries. New Jersey Med. Rep., vii, 466. U. S. Disp. The flowers are excitant and sudorific, and are used in the form of an ointment as a discutient. The inner bark is a hydragogue cathartic and emetic, acting well in drops', and as an alterative in various chronic diseases. The purgation which results from its employment is sometimes, however, too severe. The berries are diaphoretic and aperient and are used as a remedy in rheumatic gout and syphilitic affections. The juice of these diluted with water furnishes a cooling and valuable laxative drink. This plant is employed to some extent in domestic practice for the purposes severally referred to above. A decoction made by pouring boiling water over the leaves, flowers or berries of the elder is recommended as a wash for wounds to prevent injury from flies. An ointment used for the same purpose is prepared by stirring the elder or mixing the juice into lard while boiling, and straining through a coarse sieve. Beeswax may be added. Surg. S. E. Chambers reports in the Confed. States Med. Journal, Jan., 1865. that he has used the following ointment with complete success in at least one hundred cases of camp itch. In ordinary cases it will cure in one week. The patient is first made to wash well with soap and water, to dry the parts affected, and then to rub the ointment on the parts affected with the hand until it is absorbed. One pound of the inner bark of the elder, in two and a half pints of water is boiled down to one quarter of a pint. Then one pound of lard and four ounces of sweet gum are added, evaporate the water and at the same time skim whatever filth may rise to the top of the vessel, after which set it aside to cool. When thoroughly cool add two ounces of basilicon ointment, three of olive oil and half an ounce of flour of sulphur. See, also, Phylotacca decandra, Poke. According to Mr. Cozzens, the ripe berries afford a deli- cate test for acids and alkalies. The elder berry stewed with copperas, vinegar and alum, makes, as I have seen, an excellent ink and a dye.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898 tells us:

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Sambucus is stimulant to all of the emunctories, increasing secretion. In warm infusion, elder flowers are diaphoretic and gently stimulant; in cold infusion, they are diuretic, alterative, and cooling, and may be used in all diseases requiring such action, as in hepatic derangements of children, erysipelas, erysipelatous diseases, etc. In infusion, with maidenhair and beech-drops, they will be found very valuable in all erysipelatous diseases. The expressed juice of the berries, evaporated to the consistence of a syrup, is a valuable aperient and alterative; 1 ounce of it will purge. An infusion of the young leaf-buds is likewise purgative, and sometimes acts with violence. The flowers and expressed juice of the berries have been beneficially employed in scrofula, cutaneous diseases, syphilis, rheumatism, etc. The inner green bark is cathartic; an infusion of it in wine or cider, or the expressed juice, will purge moderately, in doses of from ½ to 1 fluid ounce; large doses produce emesis; in small ones, it proves an efficient deobstruent, promoting all the fluid secretions, and is much used in dropsy, especially that following scarlatina, and other febrile and exanthematous diseases, as well as in many chronic diseases. Specific Sambucus is largely used as an alterative where there is a tendency to unhealthy deposits in, or depravation of the tissues. The chief indication for sambucus is a fullness or oedematous condition of the parts, giving them a watery and flabby appearance. In these conditions it is a valuable agent in dropsy. Webster asserts that small doses of specific sambucus are valuable in the catarrhal nasal obstructions of infants. The juice of the root in 1 ounce doses, daily, acts as a hydragogue cathartic and diuretic, and will be found valuable in dropsical affections requiring purgation.

Externally, sambucus is a valuable agent, especially for eruptions which appear upon the full, flabby, oedematous tissues as described above, and particularly when attended with abundant discharge of serum. Beaten up with lard or cream, it forms an excellent discutient ointment, which is of much value in burns, scalds, and some cutaneous diseases, such as eczema, milk-scall, old ulcers, with soft, oedematous edges and free secretion of serum, and in mucous patches, with free discharges. The dose of specific sambucus ranges from 1 to 60 drops; decoction (inner bark, 2 ounces, to water, 1 quart, boiled down to 1 pint), from 2 to 4 fluid ounces.

Specific Indications and Uses.—In skin affections, when the tissues are full, flabby, and oedematous; epidermis separates and discharge of serum is abundant, forming crusts; indolent ulcers, with soft, oedematous borders; mucous patches, with free secretions; post-scarlatinal dropsy; low deposits in, or depravation of tissues.

Plants for A Future states:

Medicinal use of Elder: The plant has medicinal qualities. No further details are given but these are the medicinal properties of the closely related S. ebulus:- The leaves are antiphlogistic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and laxative. The fruit is also sometimes used, but it is less active than the leaves. The herb is commonly used in the treatment of liver and kidney complaints. When bruised and laid on boils and scalds, they have a healing effect. They can be made into a poultice for treating swellings and contusions. The leaves are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. The root is diaphoretic, mildly diuretic and a drastic purgative. Dried, then powdered and made into a tea, it is considered to be one of the best remedies for dropsy. It should only be used with expert supervision because it can cause nausea and vertigo. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh berries or the bark. It is used in the treatment of dropsy.

The Rodale Herb Book states:

A delightful tea is made from the dried blossoms, and it is helpful for colds and to promote sleep. Elder has been used for many medical purposes, in skin lotions, facials and packs, and as an antiseptic for skin disease.

Elder was widely used by the American Indians, who applied the bark as an antidotal poultice to painful swellings and inflammations. There was some us of a bark tea to ease parturition and a tea made of the dried flowers as a febrifuge. The elder berries were listed in the official pharmacopoeias for a few years during the nineteenth century and the flowers for nearly a century long period spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The flowers were listed as mildly stimulant, carminative and diaphoretic.

The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine tells us:

Flowers and berries of Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis are used to shorten the duration and severity of flu and cold, to treat eczema and other skin disorders, and to reduce pain and inflammation. Indications and usage approved by Commission E: cough/bronchitis, fevers and cold.. The drug is used for colds and coughs it is a sweat producing remedy for the treatment of feverish colds. Unproven uses: in folk medicine, elderflowers are used internally as a sudorific tea and for colds and other fevers conditions. Elder is also used as an infusion, a gargle, mouthwash and for respiratory disorders, such as coughs, head colds, laryngitis, flu, and shortness of breath. Elder is used occasionally by nursing mothers to increase lactation. Externally, herbal pillows are used for swelling and inflammation. Precautions and adverse reactions: only fully ripe purple berries are used, as red berries can be mildly toxic. Leaves, shoots, bark, roots and raw red berries contain a cyanogenic glycoside, sambunigrin, that can cause dizziness, headache, convulsions, gastrointestinal distress, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and tachycardia. Bark lectins may stimulate hyperplasia of the small intestine. Data suggest Sambucus may be a source potential harm to diabetic patients in caution should be advised.

This article is an excerpt from The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: by Judson Carroll

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The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle:


Author: Judson Carroll. Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

His weekly articles may be read at judsoncarroll.com

His weekly podcast may be heard at: www.spreaker.com/show/southern-appalachian-herbs

He offers free, weekly herb classes: https://rumble.com/c/c-618325


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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