says my Aesculapius,
my heart of
~The Merry Wives of Windsor
Grave stones originating from 2,000 BC were carved to resemble elder tree leaves and the tree’s ability to grow roots from damaged twigs was considered by the Druids a symbol of magic and regeneration.
The Anglo-Saxons believed the healing power of elder tree protected against witches and all evil . They also gave it the English name, elder – meaning fire or furnace as the elder tree branches spit sparks when lit.
This attractive large shrub can grow 15 m in height and can live for 60 years. It has magnificent cream, sweet-smelling flowers in late May/early June and purple-black berries that follow in summer. It is native to the UK and grows commonly in our woods and hedgerows.
MS Guardio is writing a series of short articles about the healing properties some plants, flowers and foods at this time of pandemic and national crisis.
The healing power of Elder tree
Today, the long tradition of elder’s healing powers continues. This is not surprising as the elderberries and the elderflowers are an excellent source of protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins, in particular vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and calcium .
They also contain polyphenols (they give the purple colour to the berries) and flavonoids, both with strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are natural scavengers and prevent disease by detecting and detoxifying harmful chemicals in our bodies. It is these antioxidants that take credit for the most impressive healing powers of the elder.
The healing power of elder includes both elderflowers and the elderberries, which are are anti-inflammatory; anti-bacterial and have anti-viral properties. In particular they are helpful in preventing and reducing the symptoms of:
• colds and flu
• elevated cholesterol
Healing power of Elder for colds and flu
There is little doubt that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduces respiratory symptoms!
Numerous studies found that elderberry and elderflower extracts are also able to shortened the duration of the illness.
Their therapeutic and healing power of elder is primarily directed against bacteria responsible for throat and ear infections, sinusitis and bronchitis.
While further research is needed into the anti-viral properties of the elder tree, it is interesting that the antioxidant compounds in the elderberry juice are able to stop viruses infecting the cells, but can also suppress and reduce the viral load of the already infected cells.
Healing power of Elder for elevated cholesterol
But the most impressive study into the healing power of elder have concluded that elderberry juice lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in young adults after only two weeks of daily doses.
There is little doubt that a diet high in flavonoids can improve the cardiovascular health.
Carefully goes it!
But parts of elder tree, other than the flowers can be toxic and cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially when ingested raw and in large quantities. Cooking removes the offending chemicals.
MS Guardio has also written about the healing properties of the oregano.
Harnessing the healing power of elder
There are formulas suitable for adults, children and babies some fortified with zinc, vitamins D and C. Lozenges and tablets are also available.
A London-based family company, Biona have too captured the healing power of elderberries in a bottle. They produce organic pure pressed elderberry juice, a natural treatment for cough, and colds that can be purchased from many online stores. It tastes great and you can also drizzle it on desserts and on your morning toast.
You can harness the healing power of elder by gathering the elderflowers and elderberries yourself, but be mindful that home cooking and processing elderflowers and the berries may affect their healing powers.
The content of polyphenols reduces by approximately 40% in the first 30 days of storage but then remained unchanged.
However, the therapeutic compounds in tea made from elderberry flowers were relatively unchanged over their 21-months of storage in the experiment.
I go foraging for elderflowers most summers. I fry clusters of the fragrant flowers in light batter for a delicious snack, make elderflower cordial, and dry the flowers to use as tea whenever I feel a cold coming.
Woodland Trust have a very informative webpage on how to identify elder tree, and if you would like to go elderflowers/elderberries foraging with a group, you can check Countryfile for best foraging courses and events in the country.
The 17th century botanist Culpeper was right in his praise of the elder tree. Elder helps to reduce inflammation and affects the course of respiratory disease. It also provides an alternative to misuse of antibiotics for common colds and is a natural aid for flu and elevated cholesterol.
- Green tea
- Olive leaf
- Castor oil
- Aloe Vera
- Extract of Aloe Vera leaves – has been previously reported to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects.
Some foods are natural antiviral agents
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