Using Elderberry in the Winter Months

Elderberry: Queen of the Forest; Sambucus Nigra

 

Seasonal Change

Autumn is a beautiful time of year, one that prepares us for the dormancy of winter. The once vibrant leaves of spring fall to the ground, the sultry air of the summer becomes crisp and biting, and the earth prepares for its long winter slumber. As the seasons change, it's not only important to take the time to honor this transition in nature but to be mindful of how this change can affect our health. In herbalism, to prepare for this transition we turn to herbs that have an affinity for the immune system.

Why Use Elderberry

When it comes to immune boosting herbs, there are few as loved and well used as Elderberry. Prized for its antiviral properties, Elderberry is a go-to herb for Herbalists when they feel a cold or flu coming on. With a rich berry flavor and a vibrant purple color, Elder is not only a plant that has value for its medicinal properties but one that brings beauty and vibrancy into our lives.

Elderberry is one my most beloved plants: the one that I reach for when I feel a cold or flu coming on, the one I take before getting on a flight in the height of germ season, the one I turn to when stress and fatigue start to take their toll. I know I can always count on Elder to give my immune system a little extra love. When I combine this sweet plant with nutrition, ample rest, and adequate hydration – I know I that I am supporting my body while it works hard to fight off getting sick.

Elderberry's Medicinal Properties

Elder's medicinal properties can be found in both its berries and flowers. The berries are a powerful antiviral, while the flowers act as a diaphoretic and anti-catarrhal. An extract of the berries has been known to be useful in shortening the duration of cold and flu symptoms.[1] Traditionally, the berries have also been used to make a delicious syrup to be taken as a preventative for colds and flu during the winter months. Making Elderberry syrup is easy to do at home, and one quick look on the Internet will provide you with countless recipes. My favorite combination is to make a syrup with honey and elderberry, adding a dash of warmth with either cinnamon or ginger.

In addition to its antiviral properties, Elderberry is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals,[2] and makes a wonderful addition to your winter culinary cabinet. I love to keep the frozen berries in my freezer and toss them into smoothies and/or baked goods throughout the season. 

Elderberry at Sunwïnk

At Sunwïnk, we know that doing things DIY is not always an option, which is why we wanted to include elderberry in our Immune-Boost {Berry} herbal tonic. We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Elderberry and hope that she can serve as a valuable ally as we head into the winter months!

 

[1] Zakay-Rones, Z, et al. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections.” Journal of International Medical Research, vol. 32, no. 2, 2004, pp. 132–140. NCBI, doi:10.1177/147323000403200205

[2] Sidor, Andrzej, and Anna Gramza-MichaÅowska. “Advanced Research on the Antioxidant and Health Benefit of Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) in Food â Review.” Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 18, 2015, pp. 941–958. Elsevier, doi:10.1016/j.jff.2014.07.012.

 

By Anna Beauchemin

Anna is a Clinical Western Herbalist. She works and studies at the Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley, California. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked as a biologist doing research on native pollinators. 

 

Photos taken by Anna Beauchemin

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.