Elderberry & Elderflower (not just for cold & flu)

Elder (Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis)


This ancient herbal ally has powerful constituents which support the body during cold and flu season. But its benefits don’t stop there. I can’t wait to tell you about this beauty. As I learn more and more about this herbal friend, I am more and more smitten. It began with meeting this tree years ago at an elementary school. After that, I continuously ran into it: along the roadside, on hikes in the wild. The gorgeous delicate creamy white clusters of flowers are an eye catcher. You can see the huge blooms from a distance when traveling down the road at high speeds.

Sambucus nigra

The deep blueish purple berries are quite impressive. When the tree is happy huge clusters of berries hang from the branches almost covering the tree! This tree invites you to visit it, as if it’s saying, “Hey, over here! Look how pretty I am.”

Sambucus canadensis in the pot waiting to spread its roots in the ground. 🙂



Plant Your Own

I planted an Elder tree at my previous home. I miss that tree, so I planted one here at my new home in the mountains. It warms my heart to see Elder in the yard and I believe every yard should have an Elder!

Planting herbs at home is a great way to preserve wild plants and reduce your out of pocket costs for making your own herbal remedies.

Sambucus canadensis in its new home.

Protection for the Garden and Home

Historically, and even in some contemporary circles, Elder is believed to have spiritual and magical qualities. Many believe it can protect the home and some carry Elder for good luck. Elders are often planted around the edge of a garden as a guardian.

This generous tree shares its leaves, flowers and berries with us, but we must be thoughtful when harvesting from this and every plant. When we harvest with gratitude, we show respect for our herbal allies.

Herbal Formulas Abound with Elder

The flowers and berries are excellent in teas, tinctures, oxymels, champagne and syrups. The berries taste yummy. This, and its ability to boost immunity, is why you’ll often see the berries and even flowers in drug store & homemade cough syrup remedies. Elderberry has become very popularized recently, but again, its use has been around for centuries. Hippocrates recommended Elderberry for many physical complaints.

Taken at the first signs of a cold or allergy symptoms, Elder is known to reduce the timeframe of scratchy throats and stuffy sinuses.

Elderberry are rich in flavonoids which can help reduce inflammation. Herbalist, Rosalee de la Forêt, suggests Elderberry can strengthen eyes and decrease pain due to arthritis. Herbalist, Kami McBride, points to the rich Vitamin A & C and flavonoid content of Elderberry as a wonderful support to the cardiovascular system.

Both flowers and berries are known to be powerful diaphoretics, meaning they can induce sweating and potentially reduce a fever.

The last few years I’ve made many Elderberry elixirs. This beauty will often sit in my cabinet for most of the year, and then at the first sign of a scratchy throat or stuffy nose, I pull it out and begin taking about a tablespoon every couple of hours throughout the day. Often, this will calm the symptoms within a couple days. I’m convinced it helps with allergies, too, as it’s helped me bounce back from seasonal allergy symptoms quickly.

It’s really quite nice to add to sparkling water and ice for a refreshing berry drink. 

Everyone should have a bottle of Elderberry tincture or elixir on hand. ?? 

Sambucus nigra with Ceylon cinnamon, ginger root & whole cloves infusing in alcohol


Currently, I have elderberry (Sambucus nigra), Ceylon cinnamon bark, cloves, ginger root and rosehips infusing on my countertop. These nourishing herbs will infuse together for 4-6 weeks, at which time, I’ll remove the herbal matter and then use the liquid to make an elixir. We’ll use this cordial as a cold remedy and pain reliever. I’ll also set some of the herbal liquid aside to use as a tincture.

Tinctures are nice to have on hand when you don’t have time to make a tea, or if you don’t like the taste of the syrup or cordial. A dropperful in a glass of water several times a day is often extremely helpful in combatting a scratchy throat, stuffy nose and sinusitis. Use it for pain relief, too (remember its anti-inflammatory properties).

Skincare, too!!

I already love this herb for cold, flu and inflammation but when I learned Elderflower can be used in skincare products I was impressed and inspired. Studies have shown the UV protective properties of Elderflower to be significant, and along with its beneficial anti-oxidant content, Elderflower is a smart choice for oil infusions to be used as body/massage oils, and in recipes like salves, body butters, lip balms and creams.

Elderflower & Calendula infusing in oil to be used as a facial serum.

Pictured here are images of an oil herbal infusion using Elderflower and Calendula. I’m making this herbal infusion to use as a facial serum. I’ve adapted the recipe from Alchemy of Herbs. Thank you, Rosalee de la Forêt for this gorgeous herbal skincare preparation!

Getting to know this extraordinary herb has been a lot of fun!

I’d love to hear about your experience with Elder. Have you seen an Elder tree? Have you used the berries or flowers to support the body?

Tell me here… herbal stories are the best!



Herbarium – the Herbal Academy – monograph 1005

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Healthy, Rosemary Gladstar, 2008

Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee de la Forêt, 2017

The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, James Green, 2000

Herbal Therapy & Supplements, Kuhn & Winston, 2008

The Herbal Kitchen, Kami McBride, 2010



Disclaimer: The information written in C.R.Y. Herbals’ emails, blog & website is for creative and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. All questions regarding any health condition should be addressed to your primary care physician or other healthcare provider. We are simply ordinary folk who love experimenting and working with natural herbal products to enhance and support the body in health and well-being. It is a joy and honor to explore the historical and contemporary practices of herbalism for the purposes of education and personal fulfillment. ?


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