Elderberry Folklore

The Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, a popular belief held in some cultures. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.

The most powerful wand in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a wand made of sambucus known as the “Elder Wand”.

In some regions, superstition, religious belief, or tradition prohibits the cutting of certain trees for bonfires, most notably in Witchcraft customs the Elderberry tree; “Elder be ye Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed ye’ll be” –A rhyme from an Oral tradition.

otanical Name: Sambucus Nigra

Common Name: Black Elder, European Elder


Elderberry (Sambucus nigra [Latin]), also called elder flower, is a tree that bears cream-colored flowers followed by dark purple berries in autumn. Elderberry trees are native to Europe, but have been naturalized to the Americas, and have a long history of medicinal use, particularly in England, where it is commonly used to make elderberry wine and pies, and was once referred to as “nature’s medicine chest.”

Elderberry has been traditionally used for to relieve pain, inflammation, water retention, and congestion. All parts of the elderberry tree, including the bark, flowers, and leaves, have been used in herbal medicine. Elderberry leaves are added to topical creams and sitz baths to treat inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis, boils, and eczema. Aged elderberry bark has been used to treat water retention and constipation, and to induce vomiting.

However, it is the flowers and berries of this tree that are most often used medicinally. Elderberries contain flavonoids, which are natural chemical substances that give food their taste and color; they also boost the immune system, and supply the body with antioxidant protection. Elderberry may be effective in treating some diseases related to a depressed immune system, and preliminary studies have shown it may be effective against some viruses, including herpes and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Elderberry is one of the most effective herbs for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections. Laboratory studies have shown that elderberry reduces excessive sinus mucus secretion, and some studies also suggest that elderberry can help lessen swelling of mucous membranes, improve sinus drainage, and decreased nasal congestion in those with bacterial sinusitis. The combination herbal product Sinupret, which contains elder flowers, has been used successfully to treat bronchitis. There are also commercial syrups and lozenges with elderberry extract available for treatment of cold or flu symptoms.

Elderberry has been shown to be very effective against at least eight strains of flu virus. It contains Sambucus nigra agglutinins (SNAs), which help prevent some types of flu from infecting healthy cells. A clinical trial of elderberry found that it cured 90 percent of flu infections in three days, which was half the time needed for recovery in participants taking a placebo. In Israel, where the study was conducted, elderberry is sold in the form of Sambucol, a patented herbal medicine recommended for treatment of flu symptoms.

Elderberry is also sold in the form of tablets, capsules, tinctures, extracts, and in combination products such as Sinupret. You can also buy dried elder flowers or berries and use them to make medicinal teas—2 teaspoons of dried European elder flowers steeped for 15 minutes in 1 cup of hot water. Fresh elderflowers can also be used to make a topical cream for relief of arthritis—simmer several handfuls of fresh elder flowers in melted petroleum jelly for 40 minutes, and allow this mixture to cool and solidify before applying it to the hands at bedtime.

Father Hermann Josef Weidinger conveys the contentment of a man who has performed great works. Austria’s most beloved herbal healer, the eighty-two year old Catholic priest has penned a dozen books, and more than a hundred botanical products bear his imprimateur. High on the list of his most favorite plants is elderberry. “Elderberry cleanses the digestive system and promotes healthy elimination,” he explains. “I believe that elderberry protects the body from serious diseases, and it balances the emotions. Elderberry is good for the soul.”

Immune System Benefits
Elderberry can help strengthen your immune system to fight off the flu. It can also help reduce the effects of inflammations due to infection.

Circulatory System
Elderberry extract has benefits that can help your heart. This includes improving blood flow throughout your body.

Repiratory System
The respiratory system can be boosted by the intake of elderberry extract. Elderberry extract can help with both asthma conditions and bronchitis.

Nervous System
Injections of elderberry extract have been found to have positive effects on people suffering with back pain and other nerve conditions.

Injections of elderberry can also assist with bladder conditions. A dose of elderberry extract can also assist with both urinary tract and bladder infections.

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