The Wonder of Elder
We are in full swing of the season of germs. I get asked all the time for tips and ways to boost immunity or for ways to beat a cold faster. Of course there is the long answer involving healthy eating, plenty of rest and a list of things to avoid. We all know that, we do the best we can on that front. But sometimes its just not enough. We need some back up. I have two tools in my kit that I am not without in the winter months. Elderberry syrup and my Breathe Easy essential oil blend. I'm here to give you the low down on elder, both the berries and the flowers.
Elderberry syrup has a long history in European herbal and folk medicine. The elder plant or tree is sometimes referred to as a medicine chest in its own right. Many parts of the plant can be used. Most common here in our cold part of Canada is the red elder tree. unfortunately, the red is considered poisonous. I have heard tell of someone growing a black elder in my city, I'm personally excited for the spring thaw so I can start my own.
Black elder has a proven track record for preventing colds, flus, coughs, and sore throats. It's jam-packed with antioxidants, bioflavinoids, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. These all help you recover faster if you do get hit with a winter illness. One of the ways elder works is by strengthening the cell membrane especially in the nose and throat, this slows or prevents a virus from being able to take hold in the body. If taken during illness it not only helps to shorten your sick time it also helps to prevent the spread of the illness through the respiratory tract.
Elder flowers are especially useful for colds and flus that involve a cough. When taken in tea form at the first signs of a cold or flu elder flowers help to warm the body to fight the invading infection. Drinking a cup of warm elder tea before a long hot bath is my go to defense at any sign of a tickle in my throat.
There are many blog posts and tutorials about making your own elderberry syrup out there without me adding to that mix. Instead, I will give you my recipe for elder tea.
Spearmint or peppermint, depending on your preference
quarter part licorice root
Blend this together, add 2-4 tsp of loose herb for every cup of freshly boiled water. This is a medicinal infusion, don't be afraid of making it too strong. Steep covered for 5 minutes, strain and drink warm.
Some other things I like to add include - a slice or two of fresh ginger, cloves or cinnamon. These are also warming to the body as well as being infection fighters. [slideshow]