Health Benefits of the Elderflower
The elder has been used for four thousand years and is reportedly the oldest herb cultivated by man.
Nearly all herbal books refer to the elder as “the medicine chest of the country folk”. Amongst the claims found in a number of herbal and historical references (refer to any herbal history/encyclopaedia) are the following:
- Traditionally used as a de-tox, to build the immune system by clearing toxins thru the lymph glands.
- For respiratory problems, elderflower was used to treat asthmatics in the days before “modern” medication; and as an expectorant to clear catarrh.
- To build up “poorly” people (especially children and the elderly) before winter – as coughs and colds and influenza were killers through a cold European winter.
- In spring, elderflower concentrate, also known as elderflower cordial, was used to relieve the symptoms of allergies to pollens etc; to reduce the effects of sinusitis.
- Elderflower tea was used as a blood purifier; and as a tonic or ointment to fade freckles or skin blemishes. Many modern skin tonics still contain elderflowers.
“I find that it is very relaxing. At the end of a long day having a hot elderflower tea (with a slice of ginger or lemon or lime) before bedtime is, for me, a proven recipe for better sleep. And, it is a great alternative to tea or coffee.” - Anne Ashbolt
Many customers avow to its affects to soothe a sore throat or “to knock a cold on the head”. How much of this is placebo and how much the herb is impossible to tell, but does it really matter?
Elderberry and Elderflower Research
Recent research has, however, confirmed the efficacy of the elderberry to reduce the strength and duration of coughs and colds, possibly due to their vitamin C. Elderberries are one of the highest sources of anti-oxidants (along with blue berries and cranberries), they are full of flavanoids, amino acids, carotenoids, tannins and vitamins.
DISCLAIMER: There are many other reputed benefits of the flowers and the berries, but the distinction between quackery and medicinally beneficial is difficult for us to determine. We just say that this is a fabulous tasting drink that has a long held history of belief in its beneficial properties.