Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Sambucus nigra

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Sambucus Nigra L.
has been known as a medicinal plant since primeval times. Already Hippocrates and Hildegard von Bingen knew about the precious properties of elderberry.

Elderberries have long been used as food, particularly in the dried form. Elderberry wine, pie, and lemonade are some of the popular ways to prepare this plant as food. The leaves were touted to be pain relieving and to promote healing of injuries when applied as a poultice. 1 Native Americans used the plant for infections, coughs, and skin conditions.


Elderberry fruits make excellent pie, jam and wine. Fruits should not be eaten fresh in large quantities, as they are emetic. The flowers are edible, and make good fritters, or can be added to salads. Elder flower extract, mostly from the European species S. nigra, is available commercially and makes a pleasant, cooling drink.  Leaves are of American elder toxic, and care must be taken not to include leaves when picking fruits or flowers.   Native Americans dried the fruits, pulverized them and made pemmican by mixing with animal fat or hickory butter. They also used the fresh fruit for breads, pies, puddings, beverages including wine,  and preserves; the flowers for food and beverages; the stems for toys and blowguns; the inner bark for insect repellents.

The pith of the stems was used as tinder and the hollowed stems to blow the fire. (Grieve) Elder is a fast growing shrub seldom reaching tree size.  Often seen along fence rows and ditches and stream banks the copious berries of the Elder are a valued  by many species including humans.  Elderberry wine and jelly are relished in many parts of the country and many birds and mammals  also enjoy the berries and help to spread the seeds.  The flowers can also be eaten.  Know as Elder Blow they are battered and fried to make a delicate desert.  Recipes for this and other things made with Elder can be found in Euel Gibbons' classic Stalking the Wild Asparagus .

Traditional & Folk Use Reports
Draining of brain abscesses through the use of elderberry stem capillaries by Erwin Payr in the late 19th century Kuhnel 1998 .  

"Children of the elderberry bush (for Alex Comfort) " (no abstract) Walford 1998 .  

Turkish folk medicines for inflammatory conditions which inhibit cytokines include S. nigra and S. ebulus flowers & leaves, Cistus leaves, Clematis herb, Crataegus orientalis roots, Daphne herb, Ecbalium roots, Rosa roots or Rubus roots Yesilada 1997 .  

Tropical dermatophytes were inhibited by a number of Guatemalan folk remedies, including Sambucus mexicana, Byrsonima, Cassia, Diphysa, Gliricidia, Piscidia, Smilax, Solanum Caceres 1991 .  

Gynaecological problems are treated with Sambucus racemosa by two elder Salishan women of southern Vancouver Island Turner 1990 .  
FoodPlantDB .  
Moerman/MPNA .