The black elder, or sambucus nigra, is actually a very common shrub in Europe and eastern Asia that has been believed since ancient times to hold mystical medicinal qualities. The dark purple berries of the black elder smell sweet but are rather tart and spicy in flavor. Still, wines, jams, and syrups made from from elder berries are a European tradition continued today. The fruit of the American elder, or sambucus Canadensis, has similar healing properties. The popular flu drug Sambucol is made from the extract of elder berries. Studies have shown that the medicine does indeed double flu recovery! The elder has many benefits:
Treats influenza A and B
Contains antioxidants, which stimulate the immune system
Relieves aches, paints, and fever
Sooths upper respiratory problems
Promotes circulation and lymphatic health
For access to the health benefits of elder berries, consider trying an herbal tea made from dried elder flowers or berries by pouring a cup of boiling water over two heaping spoonfuls of elder flowers and straining after ten minutes, or by adding cold water to two spoonfuls of dried elderberries, boiling and straining the mixture.