Herbalist, Reiki, Bowen and Psychotherapy in Peterborough

Elderberries – Published in The Link (Sept 09)

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Often, I am asked why I named my business Elderberry Herbals. In a nutshell, Elderberry is a fantastic plant; lush with lore and has good food and medicinal value. I hope that my practice will come to share some of the virtues that Elderberry embodies.
Once respected as the “Elder Mother”, Elder was considered protector of all other herbs. Most gardens would have had an Elder growing as “overseer.” Nicknamed “The Medicine Chest”, Elder can be effective for many complaints, and long ago, most parts of the Black Elder were used. Currently, we mostly use the flowers and berries. The flowers are diaphoretic – which opens the pores and encourages sweating; this helps to reduce a fever. The berries are also helpful during flus and colds. They are high in Vit. A and C and iron.
Depending on your location, Elderberries are ready to harvest between August and late September. They can be dried, frozen or made into jelly, pies or even wine. The deep purple-black berries are easily made into a syrup. Cover the berries in water and simmer slowly (without boiling) until they are soft, and the colour has infused into the water. Crush the berries to get the juice out. Strain and use your favourite sweetener (honey or maple syrup work) as a preservative. This keeps well in the fridge, giving a lovely alternative to maple syrup for pancakes or as a topping for other desserts. Add more water, and it becomes a yummy juice or tea. What a great way to treat, or even prevent winter ailments.
When growing Elderberries, make sure to choose the black variety, as the Red Elderberries are toxic to humans. Also, they require cross pollination, so plant two or more to ensure fertilization. Elders are great food/medicine to have around, and beautiful in the garden, too.

Written by:  Marianne Beacon, RH
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