Elderberry – Benefits And Harms

Elderberry is a very popular plant among people. It has long been considered a sacred tree, and, as legend has it, has the ability to prolong life. So what does this miracle tree contain in its composition, and what are the benefits and harms of eating elderberry – let’s find out today!

Black elderberry – composition

Black elderberry is very rich in useful and biologically active substances. Elderberry contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and amino acids valine, lysine, tryptophan, aspartic and glutamic acids.

It is rich in vitamins: A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, PP. Trace elements: potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, sodium.

In addition to the above components, the berries contain the following groups of substances: organic acids; essential oils; ash; anthocyanins; dietary fiber and fiber; tannins.

Useful properties of black elderberry

Elderberry flowers, bark, leaves, and stems, as well as rhizomes are used for medicinal purposes.

The ground parts of black elderberry have the following effects: tonic; antiviral; choleretic; antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; diaphoretic; bactericidal; anti-edematous; and hemorrhoidal.

The medicinal properties of elderberry include the following:

  • improvement of skin condition;
  • rapid healing of wounds, abrasions, cuts, purulent abscesses, and skin lesions;
  • elimination of symptoms of childhood diathesis, as well as other allergic rashes;
  • normalization of blood pressure;
  • improvement of the condition of diabetes mellitus caused by the activation of insulin production processes;
  • normalization of metabolism;
  • Prevention of heart muscle diseases;
  • normalization of heart rate and blood pressure;
  • Reducing the risk of thrombosis;
  • prevention of the development of kidney and genitourinary system diseases;
  • Prevention of atherosclerosis, diseases of the joints and musculoskeletal system;
  • normalization of the respiratory system functions, as well as prevention of the development of respiratory diseases;
  • Elimination of symptoms and treatment of gynecological diseases;
  • inhibition of aging processes at the cellular level;
  • expressed antitumor effect, which explains the use of the plant for the treatment of leukemia and other types of cancer.

Black elderberry and folk medicine

Due to its high content of nutrients, black elderberry is quite popular in folk medicine.

Infusion of elderberry flowers:

  • in case of burns and diaper rash, purulent skin diseases are used in the form of lotions;
  • for hemorrhoids – in the form of poultices, also for this disease, the leaves boiled in milk are treated as a compress;
  • for treatment of gout, in case of articular rheumatism, drink warm, before meals, 2-3 times a day, 1/3 cup;
  • for the dry cough to thin sputum, tracheitis, bronchitis, etc., drink as tea. Inhalation for about 10-15 minutes also helps with bronchitis;
  • in case of tonsillitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis, and sore throat, rinse the throat and mouth;
  • stop coughing in lung cancer with elderberry syrup;
  • in case of kidney and bladder disorders, drink it as tea;
  • in case of skin rashes and conjunctivitis, apply externally.

Decoction of elderberry berries:

  • when taken orally to accelerate the complex treatment of gastric ulcer and hepatitis;
  • as a diuretic and anthelmintic: drink warm, before meals, 2-3 times a day, 1/3 cup;
  • in gynecology it is used in the form of douches;
  • to improve bile secretion and intestinal function.

A decoction of the roots of the elderberry plant:

  • for puffiness and diabetes, take orally;
  • for headache and toothache, bronchitis, pneumonia, and neurasthenia;
  • as an effective diuretic.

Elderberry in cosmetology

Medicinal black elderberry has a positive effect on skin quality. Thus, its medicinal properties are effective in such problems as acne; acne; pigmentation.

In addition, the use of cosmetic products containing this plant leads to the following effect: the skin looks fresher and more rested, its structure is restored, it becomes more elastic, and acquires a healthy shade.

Elderberry in dietetics

Black elderberry berries have a laxative, antimicrobial effect, helping to remove all toxins from the intestines, suppress pathogenic microflora, and eliminate the processes of decay of waste products and processing that have not been removed from the intestines before.

Due to this, there is an improvement in the functions of the digestive system, more efficient digestion of food, and assimilation of all the nutrients contained in it.

Elderberry helps to normalize metabolic processes at the cellular and tissue level and improve the general condition in case of stomach diseases (gastritis, colitis, ulcers). In addition, the plant is effective in the fight against intestinal parasites, which negatively affect human health.

Black elderberry in cooking

Black elderberries are added to sauces, jelly, fruit drinks, jam, jelly, and pastille are made from them. In the Caucasus, elderberries are used to make pie fillings. In Italy, elderberries are used to make jams.

Fragrant elderberry flowers are also used in cooking: they are used to make jam, add to beignets (a French dish made of dough with various fillings, deep-fried), and flavor tea, jams, and vinegar.

Elderberry jam helps to restore a radiant appearance to the skin, and the rich vitamin and mineral complex that enriches the body with vitamins make hair healthy and shiny. Elderberry jam is indispensable in the autumn-winter period for the treatment of viral and colds, including diseases of the lungs and respiratory tract. For its preparation you need:

  • fresh berries (1 kg);
  • granulated sugar (1 kg);
  • a sachet of citric acid.

The berries should be covered with half the sugar overnight, and in the morning, drain the juice and boil it with the remaining sugar to a thick syrup. Add citric acid, and berries and bring to a boil. Store the jam in the cellar or refrigerator.

Contraindications for the use of elderberry

Elderberry is a relatively poisonous shrub plant, the toxicity of which is increasing every year. Therefore, raw materials collected from a one- or two-year-old bush are suitable for medicinal purposes.

The main contraindication to the use of elderberry preparations is individual intolerance and allergy to any parts of the plant. In addition, people with the following diseases should be especially careful: inflammation of the digestive system; diabetes mellitus; first trimester of pregnancy.

It is important to remember that children under 12 years of age should be given elderberry medicines only with a doctor’s permission.

The lactation period is not prohibited for the use of elderberry. On the contrary, doctors note an improvement in the quality of milk and an increase in its quantity when a new mother includes fresh or frozen elderberries in her diet.

Selection and storage of elderberries

Elderberry flowers are harvested during the flowering period of the bush, with leaves, and bark in late summer, and rhizomes in the fall. It is better to dry all components in a dry room naturally. It should be borne in mind that the petals of the inflorescences darken during drying, and the fruits dry out twice as much. Elderberries sold in pharmacies (leaves and fruits) fully meet all the requirements for medicinal raw materials.

When buying fresh berries, it is important to pay attention to their appearance. Ideally, the fruits should be of the same size, without any foreign plaque, traces of rot, or other damage. Fresh berries are dense and flavorful, while those picked the day before already have a soft texture and less skin elasticity.

Fresh fruits can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is important that the berries in the container are open; it is not allowed to keep them in plastic bags. Dry raw materials, on the other hand, should be stored in tight containers, as they quickly absorb moisture and odors, losing their medicinal properties.

Frozen berries can be stored in the freezer for up to a year without defrosting.

So, black elderberry is a unique and interesting berry. On the one hand, it is very tasty, on the other hand, it has a huge number of medicinal properties. But be careful and do not forget about contraindications. Take care and be healthy!

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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