Elderberry or berry, (Sambucus), is one of the oldest curative plants. Among the ancient peoples, it was considered a symbol of birth and death, and was also used for protection from evil forces. Old Europeans and Indians used it to treat inflammations, problems with digestion, jaundice, female diseases and flu. In ancient Rome, berries were used for coloring the hair in red. The wine from the berries was considered a drink of fairies, in fact, it was believed that the one who will drink from it, will acquire the power to see fairies and to communicate with them. By the end of the 19th century, the elderberry wine was sold on the streets of London to refresh passengers and workers.
The flowers of this plant are rich in glucose, tannins, flavonoids, carotene and vitamin C. The berries contain alkaloids, carotene, tannins, organic acids and vitamins A, B and C. It is presumed that in fact flavonoids are responsible for its curative properties. They are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Therefore, elderberries are used in the treatment of degenerative diseases, and in the prevention of cancer. Moreover, the elderberry has antiviral and antimicrobial effect, which helps in cases of colds and flu, as it strengthens the immune system. It is useful in asthma and inflammation of the respiratory organs since it facilitates breathing and cough.
It helps with acne, ulcers, conjunctivitis and skin rashes. Elderberries are often used in creams against freckles and spots on the skin. Except as a laxative, it acts as a diuretic and contributes to the health of the kidneys. Because of these properties, berries can have great help in weight loss.
All parts of the plant are curative, but commonly used are the flowers and the berries. Flowers are usually used in the preparation of a syrup, tea, and even liquor. Ripe berries are used for making jam, syrup, liquor and wine.
Its fresh form is poisonous and should not be consumed without being cooked previously. Raw berries can be eaten, but can also cause nausea and vomiting. It is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers.