ABOUT THE BLACK ELDER
The black elder (Latin – sambucus nigra, Latvian – melnais plūškoks, English – black elder / black elderberry, sometimes called Judas tree, German – Holunder, Russion – Бузина́ чёрная) is a plant whose history of healing lasts for thousands of years. Already in the traditional Chinese medicine the black elder was used for treatment, for example, rheumatism and wounds. The contemporary Western medicine also agrees on manifold healing properties of black elder: it enhances the immune system, cleanses blood, cuts down inflammations and helps to overcome common cold, fever and even the influenza. In contrast to Germany or England where black elder is easy accessible and is used widely, the blossoms and berries of this plant are undeservedly forgotten. Especially in the cold season, when various colds and other illnesses tend to fall upon us, the products of black elder blossoms and berries make excellent and delicious means of preserving a good health.
The black elder is native to all Europe, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, as well as spread in other parts of Western Asia (other sorts of elder occur almost everywhere in the world), and it was introduced in Baltics as a medical plant in the 17th century. Interestingly, the black elder likes the human company and most willingly grows at the roadsides and near human settlements. There are popular beliefs in many countries that elder has almost universal safeguarding features: it protects from the bites of snakes and mosquitoes, it can scare away evil spirits and witches and protect from black magic and lightning. The black elderberry trees bloom with white blossoms from May till June, and the berries ripen in the August, September. The blossoms of the black elder are collected in the beginning of the blooming period, in dry weather, but the berries should be collected when fully ripened and black.
Black elder – an universal remedy
From ancient times, the blossoms, fruits, shoots and even leaves were used in the popular medicine against different ailments. Also the modern studies affirm that the black elder provides a positive effect in treatment of flu, allergy and respiratory illnesses.
The berries of black elder are rich in Vitamin C; they act as antioxidant and improve the blood circulation. When used on a day-to-day basis, the elderberry strengthens immunity, and it helps to fight fever and cold if they have already befallen. During the cold season a glass of (watered down) elderberry juice or cup of elder blossom tea is recommended daily. Another possibility is to add the berry or blossom syrup to a hot drink. If the cold has already affected the organism, it is recommended to drink a glass of hot elderberry juice or elder blossom tea, in that way the cold can be “sweat out” during the night, because the elderberry juice facilitates sweating and lessens the fever. Some studies indicate that use of the elder can significantly decrease the time of being ill with common cold, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia.
The products of black elder blossoms and berries can be used also for treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, kidney and bladder problems. The elderberry juice eliminates from the body the excess liquid, serving as a diuretic remedy and hence facilitating the reduction of body mass.