Herb of the Month: Elderberry


Latin Name:  Sambucus nigra

Common Names: Elderberry, Black Elderberry, North American Elderberry, European Elder

Properties:  antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory

Uses:  immune system boost, coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsillitis, lower cholesterol, improved vision and heart health.


Disclaimer:  This post is for informational purposes only.  I do not claim to be a doctor or nutritionist.  I have obtained this information from my own research and thought you might find it interesting as well.  Use at your own risk and always watch for allergies when trying any new herb or medicinal remedy.

Elderberry Harvest

My Honey rides past a nice patch of elderberry on his way home from work every day.  Recently he stopped and gathered up a pretty good sized bag of ripe berries, which we immediately placed in the freezer.  This helps separating the berries from the stems a lot easier.  Although, I was not able to just shake the berries off he stems as I read I’d be able to.  Instead I had to kind of gently roll them between my fingers.

I ended up with just under four cups of cleaned berries.  I needed 2 cups for the immune boosting Elderberry Syrup recipe that Health Home and Happiness posted to their Facebook page, as well as a pint for some tincture I’ll be making later on (still need to get some liquor).  This turned out to be just the right amount for both.  While the pint of berries is waiting patiently in my freezer for the liquor, I was able to jump right into making the medicinal syrup…

Making Elderberry Syrup

The ingredients for this medicinal syrup are simmering on the stove as I’m typing this post.  The house smells delicious! 

Again, I’m using the recipe as listed on the Health Home and Happiness Facebook page, so I won’t relist the entire recipe here.  I’m just showing the process here and letting you know about some ideas for using freshly picked elderberries.  More recipes will follow in other posts as my main focus right now is using up all these wonderful berries in as many recipes as I can.  Plus since it’s late in the summer this is a good time to get your medicinal “potions” ready before winter cold season hits.

The other ingredients obviously have various medicinal properties and uses as well.  For example; raw honey has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal aspects.  But the focus of this post is on Elderberries.  We will discuss each of the other ingredients in their own full posts later.  I’m getting started late in August on the Herb of the Month series, so I’m getting in as much about elderberry as I can this week.  September will bring on a brand new herb to focus on. 

To make: Simmer all ingredients, except for the honey, for 30 to 45 minutes.  This will be blended with the honey, once it’s cooled a little, but still warm enough to melt the honey.  Do not cook honey if you are using it for medicinal purposes or you kill all the good stuff.

As soon as you have reduced the simmering mixture to about half you’ll need to strain out the liquid through a cheesecloth.  Apparently if you wait to do this once the mixture has cooled then the elderberries will absorb the syrup.

Let it sit for a while until it’s cool enough to handle then squeeze out any remaining juice by hand.

Now it’s ready to mix in the honey.  Store in a jar in the fridge.

The recommended dosage is 1 – 2 teaspoons a day to help prevent illness.

This recipe contains raw local honey.  DO NOT give honey to children under the age of one year, there is a risk of botulism.

Elderberry Benefits

Elderberry really is a wonderfully nutritious food.  Here are just a few health benefits it’s said to provide:

  • lowers cholesterol
  • improves vision
  • pain reliever
  • relieves inflammation, water retention and congestion
  • boosts the immune system
  • improves heart health
  • prevents and treats upper respiratory infections
  • relieves coughs
  • kills flu and cold infections
  • is an antioxidant

Elderberry contains organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitamins A, B and a large amount of vitamin C.

According to The Best of Raw Foods:

“The Dutch believe that the tea of the leaves purifies the blood.  Tea of the flowers boosts the immune system.  The cooked berries improves metabolism and are used to relieve arthritis.  Syrup from the elderberries is said to heal a sore throat and reduce fever when you have the flu.”


A couple of interesting and random fun bits of folklore about the Elderberry Tree:

A popular belief in some cultures is that the Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches.

The most powerful wand in the wizarding world of Harry Potter is the wand made of sambucus known as the “Elder Wand”. <——- Just fun bit of info for any Harry Potter fans out there.  😉

Do you have any favorite uses for Elderberry?


This post is shared on:

Natural Living Monday
Homestead barn Hop #125
Thank Goodness it’s Monday #33
Wildcrafting Wednesday 8/28/13
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #88


14 responses to “Herb of the Month: Elderberry

  1. Elder is one of my all time favorite herbs! Thanks so much for sharing on Natural Living Monday. You are one of our featured posts of the week! Stop by on Monday and see your feature!

  2. Thank you for explaining this amazing fruit! I found a great bush filled with green berries. I plan to gather them all up when they are ready! I like your posts

  3. Okay, this looks so yummy. I wish we had berries here, but maybe next year I will do strawberries…not sure if anything else grows here.

    • It IS super yummy! I’m sure there’s plenty that can grow where ever you are. It just depends on how long your good growing weather lasts. When looking at seeds to plant just keep an eye on the number of days to harvest. If it’s a plant that can’t take a frost, then plant early enough so you can harvest before that frost. Some plants need a frost. Google is my best friend in these cases. When I think of what I want to grow I just type in “how to grow __________”(fill in the blank). There’s always a wealth of information available. 😉

  4. Hi Heather! I’m curious: where do you live, that driving by elderberry bushes every day can happen?? I never thought to look in the wild for these, and now you’ve got my interest more than ever! Thanks so much…LOVE your blog, darlin’!

    • Hey there, Tracy! I’m in north Florida and they are growing everywhere! Once we learned what they look like I couldn’t believe the places we started seeing them. We also have some wild grapes growing beside the elderberries my honey rides past coming home from work. I’ve already got my mind on a post about those too. 😉

  5. I’m in northern Maine and only this past week learned about and FOUND a wild elderberry bush on our property! We asked a friend to identify it for us and it seems they are not too abundant this far north. I so want to do this recipe before a frost hits. THanks.

  6. I just clicked on that fb page and can’t find the recipe? don’t know how to search the archives of her page for it either 😛 I’m not too fb savy sorry. Could you direct me to an actual post? thanks.

  7. Thank you so much!

  8. I LOVE elderberry jelly too—-VERY tasty!!!

  9. Connie Zimmermann

    Thanks so much for sharing this great info. I look forward to finding some Elderberries and trying this

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