Elderberry: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Elderberry: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Elders are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa; Canadian elders are mainly in North America. The drug, obtained from wild stocks, is mainly imported from Russia, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Elderberry in herbal medicine

In herbal medicine, the dried flowers (Sambuci flos), freed from the stalks, are mainly used. The fresh or dried berries (Sambuci fructus), the leaves and the roots are almost no longer used for medicinal purposes. The ripe berries are mainly processed into juice and jam.


Characteristics of Elderberry

Elderberry is a shrub or Tree up to 6 m high, whose branches contain white pith. The shrub has pinnate leaves and small white flowers in umbrella-shaped cymes.

The elderberries are small, shiny black and very juicy. They are edible only after prior heating. The black elder looks very similar to the commonly cultivated Canadian elder (Sambucus canadensis).

In Christianity, felling an elder tree was considered a severe crime for a long time, as it was believed to bring bad luck and death. Judas is said to have hanged himself from an elder tree. On the other hand, the Germans regarded the Tree as sacred and dedicated it to the patron goddess Frau Holle.

Characteristics of Elderflower

The drug consists of the individual flowers, which must first be freed from the cymes by sieving. However, parts of the cymes that have only been cut up by cutting are often found. The yellowish-white individual flowers are about 3 to 4 mm long.

Elderflowers spread a peculiar, characteristic smell. The taste of the flowers is sweet and slimy.

Elderflower – Application


Elderflowers are used to treat colds and feverish infections. For example, taking flowers is suitable if you suffer from a dry cough, sore throat or inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Due to the sweat-inducing effect of elderberry, the shrub can be used for a sweat cure to improve general physical well-being and the symptoms of a cold.

Folk medicinal use of elderberry

In ancient times, black elderberries were used to dye hair black as a remedy. The Greek doctor Dioscorides knew the flowers as a diuretic, mucus and bile-laxative.

In modern folk medicine, elderberry is also used for sweating cures and in the form of gargled water to treat colds. Other areas of application that have yet to be scientifically proven are rheumatism, gout, skin diseases and nerve pain.

In homoeopathy, the fresh inflorescences and leaves are primarily used to treat respiratory diseases.


ingredients of elderflower

Elderflowers contain up to 3.5% flavonoids, with the most critical rutin. Elderberry also contains essential oil with a relatively high proportion of free fatty acids, chlorogenic acid, triterpenes, tannins and mucilage. The flowers also have a high potassium salt content (4-9%).

Indications where elderflower can help

Elderflower can be used for these indications:

  • Cold/common cold
  • infection
  • Cough
  • Halsweh
  • inflammation of the airways

Elderberry – dosage

Uncrushed elderflowers are mainly taken in the form of tea. The tea comes in filter bags on the market, and elderberry is also a component of various tea blends of the cold tea genus. Drug extracts are also contained in various herbal medicines, such as drops or dragees. The drug should be stored dry, cool and protected from light.

Dose elderberry correctly

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 10-15 g of elderflower.


Prepare elderflower tea – that’s how it works!

To make your elderflower tea, pour hot water over about 3 g of the blossoms (1 teaspoon is about 1.5 g) and strain after 5-10 minutes. 1-2 cups of the hot tea should be drunk several times a day and then sweated in bed.

Elderberry: side effects when ingested?

When taking elderflower, neither side effects nor interactions with other agents are to be expected. There are currently no known contraindications. Consuming insufficiently heated elderberries can cause nausea and vomiting.

Elder – synonyms

German plant name: elder

German synonyms of the plant: Real elder, black elder, elder, German lilac, Holder, Hölder, Huskolder, Holderbusch, Schwarzholder, Aalhorn, Betschel, Eiderbaum, Elder, Eller, Ellhorn, Keilken, Kelkenbusch, Kischke

Latin plant name: Black elder L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Elderberry tree, Elderberry tree, Elderberry vulgaris

German drug name: elderflower

German synonyms of the drug: Horn blossoms, lilac blossoms, holly blossoms, elder blossoms, hyacinth flowers, cayenne flowers

Latin drug name: Elderflower

Latin synonyms of the drug: Elderflowers, Elderflowers, Black Elderflowers

English name: Elderflower, Elderberry, European elderberry (Droge); Elder, Common elder, Black elder, European elder, Elder bush, Bore tree, Danewort, Pipe tree, Sambu, Tree of medicine, Tree of music (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Caprifoliaceae

Plant family German: honeysuckle family


elderberry – effect

Elderflowers probably increase the excitability of the sweat glands for heat stimuli, which is why there is increased sweating. However, the active ingredients responsible for this and the exact mechanism of action are still largely unclear. Recently, new active substances in elderberry have been discovered (N-phenylpropanoid-amino acid amides), preventing the bacterium Helicobacter pylori from adhering to the gastric mucosa. The attachment of this bacterium to the gastric mucosa is the leading cause of the development of gastric ulcers.

Other effects of elderberry

Furthermore, the elderly experience an increase in bronchial secretion, which leads to the relief of dry cough.

There is also evidence that elderberry works to:

  • diuretic
  • laxative
  • weakly anti-inflammatory
  • antidote


Side Effects of Elderberry

When taking elderflower, side effects or interactions with other agents are not to be expected. There are currently no known contraindications.


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