encyclopedia

Elderberry Flowers

Scientific Names:    

Sambucus nigra L. [Fam. Caprifoliaceae]    
     

Forms:    

Elderberry flower extract; Aqueous extract of dried Elderberry flowers    
    
 
Traditional Usage:    

– Breathing Disorders
– Bronchitis
– Catarrh (respiratory mucous)
– Cellular Regeneration
– Chills
– Cleansing
– Colds
– Cough
– Digestive Disorders
– Detoxification
– Fever
– Flu
– Gargle
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Sore Throat
– Weight loss (as part of a cleansing program)     
   
     
Overview:    

Black elderberry flowers, Sambucus nigra L. [Fam. Caprifoliaceae], were traditionally used in the treatment of catarrh (mucous of the respiratory and digestive tracts) and to induce sweating in feverish chills. It is recommended that large amounts of the infusion are drunk as hot as possible to help 'sweat out' a fever. One researcher documented a distinct increase in sweating brought about by the tea (in healthy subjects) but other authors believe the effect was simply due to drinking large amounts of hot fluid. Traditionally, the blossom tea was also used as a gargle for sore throats and irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Elderberry flowers are also used as a flavouring agent, especially in laxatives. Elderberry flowers and berries are also beneficial in cleansing mucous from the tissues, stimulating peristaltic action in the colon and purifying the blood, kidneys, liver and skin. For this reason, an elderberry cleansing program was formulated by Dr. Brunhild Zechelius of the Institute of Nutritional Sciences in Switzerland. This Sambu Kit consists primarily of wildgrown elderberry concentrate, along with a fiber supplement and herbal teas and tablets. It not only restores the blood, tissues and organs, but assists the body in eliminating excess weight in the form of toxins and mucous. A weight loss of approximately five pounds may be achieved upon completion of the Sambu 5 Day Internal Cleansing Program.
 An empirical study of the elderberry treatment was carried out in Switzerland between November 1986 and February 1988 with 207 men and women of various ages and occupations. Each participant was examined at the beginning and completion of a 7 day treatment. Significant results were achieved in weight loss, normalization of blood pressure, improved digestion, and increased mental performance.     
   
     
Active Ingredients:    

Elderberry flower constituents: 0.03-0.14% essential oil of a buttery consistency, owing to the high proportion of free fatty acids (66%, main component palmitic acid) and C14-31n-alkanes (7.2%); so far, 63 components have been identified. Ca. 1.8% flavonoids, almost exclusively flavonols and their glycosides, with rutin as the chief component (up to 1.92%), and also isoquercitrin, hyperoside, astragalin, and quercitrin; ca. 3% chlorogenic acid; p-coumaric acid, caffeic and ferulic acids and their ί-glucose esters; traces of mandelonitrile ί-glucoside (sambunigrin); triterpenes; ca. 1% a- and ί-amyrin, occurring mainly as fatty-acid esters; triterpene acids: ca. 0.85% ursolic and oleanolic acids, 20ί-hydroxyursolic acid; ca. 0.11% sterols, free, esterified, and glycosidic; mucilage, tannins and polysaccharides.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

For treating fever, soothing respiratory conditions or irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and throat: Unless otherwise prescribed, 10-15 g of elderberry flowers are placed in boiling water (ca. 150ml) and boiled for 10 minutes and passed through a tea strainer while still hot. One or two cups of this tea are drunk as hot as possible several times a day. Other preparations can be taken corresponding to this dosage.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None known    
     
    
Side Effects:    

The roots, bark, leaves, seeds and raw berries of elderberry contain cyanide-producing glycosides and are toxic and therefore should only be used with proper cooking and preparation. The flowers are not thought to be toxic and were traditionally eaten in pancakes and fritters and used for their medicinal properties, however caution should be exercised unless using commercially prepared products that have been tested to assure that no cyanide-producing glycosides are present in the finished product. The leaves, stems, roots and seeds should never be consumed. Taking the raw or insufficiently cooked fruit of any species of elder causes nausea and vomiting due to these cyanide compounds.    
   
     
References:    

Anonymous 1984. Leads from the MMWR. Poisoning from elderberry juice. JAMA. 1984 Apr 27; 251(16): 2075.
 
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 242. Rodale Press.
 
Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Elderberry in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 240.
 
Turner N, and Kuhnlein H. 1991. Traditional plant foods of Canadian indigenous peoples. Nutrition, botany and use. In Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology Vol. 8. Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, p. 145-148.
 
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Sambuci flos – Elder flower In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 446-448.