3 Things to Know About Elder (Elderberry)

(Also called black elder, black elderberry, European elder)

My plan is to blog about some of the drug-free remedies I am familiar with, and elderberry is an excellent start.


1. How it shows up in popular culture:

Elderberry syrup was well-respected in the camps at Standing Rock last year. (For those who aren’t familiar with the camps at Standing Rock:  people came from all over the world to protect the Native American people who were protecting the burial grounds of their people and the water from being ruined downstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota by the Dakota Access Pipeline/”DAPL”.)  If someone hadn’t heard of it by the time they arrived at Camp, they quickly learned to appreciate elderberry syrup.

Many cultures have known about elderberry’s health benefits for generations. Many people were gathered together in small spaces at Camp, and as the weather became colder, more and more people spread upper respiratory illnesses. Elderberry was used to keep away or stop viral infections such as cold and bronchitis.

2. Phytochemical and Nutrient Content

Many, many fancy-sounding phytochemicals: alpha-amyrin, astragalin, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, betulin, caffeic acid, campestrol, chlorogenic acid, cycloartenol, feruliac acid, isoquercitrin, kaempferol, lupeol, malic acid, myristic acid, oleanolic acid, p-coumaric acid, pectin, quercetin, rutin, shikimic acid, stigmasterol, ursolic acid. Did I learn some of these in Biochemistry 20 years ago? Yes, Do I remember anything about them? No. If I want to know anything about them can I look them up in peer-reviewd literature? Yes. Do I feel bad I don’t know the specifics of those chemicals? Nope.

Nutrients: Calcium, essential fatty acids, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C.

3. Uses and Cautions

Combats free radicals and inflammation. Relieves coughs and congestion. Builds the blood, cleanses the system, eases constipation. Enhances immune system function, increases perspiration, lowers fever, soothes the respiratory tract, and simulates circulation. Effective against common respiratory viruses. The flowers are used to soothe skin irritations.

Cautions: should not be used during pregnancy, and the stems should be avoided (apparently the stems contain cyanide, yikes).

(From Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th ed, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC)



I have a recipe from an ethno-botanist who was the defacto leader of the Standing Rock Medical and Healer Council. I’ve collected all the ingredients, I just have to pull the trigger and make it. It’s going to make so much, I’ll probably give it away to friends. Just to make sure it’s safe I will definitely try it on myself first! (The royal taster for my friends, lol)

If you’ve tried elderberry with good results, please leave me a message.