Elderberry or elder (Sambucus nigra, S. Canadensis) has traditionally been used on the skin to treat wounds or taken as medicine to treat respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu. Elder is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that grows in wet or dry soil in sunny locations. Native to Europe, Africa and parts of Asia, it is also widespread in North America. The flowers and berries are the components used for medicinal purposes. The elder flowers and berries must be cooked before they are collected to be used. Using raw and unripe berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and can be poisonous.
Many beneficial properties in elderberry have led to the belief that the flowering plant has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. Elderberry has been used for sinuses, nasal and chest congestion, back, leg and nerve pain, as well as for chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is a great natural remedy for injuries, infection and various skin conditions. Elderberry has also been proven to boost the immune system and improve health due to its many beneficial components such as bioflavonoids, tannins, amino acids, carotenoids, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin c. As a result of it’s many health benefits, some people also prepare elder flowers as food or use the flowers for tea and the berries for wine, jelly or jam. Taken internally, elder is said to cleanse the body and strengthen one’s immune system.
Elderberry/elder flower is also a popular ingredient used in personal care products for its natural benefits on skin and hair. Due to its emollient and mild astringent properties, elder is beneficial in calming sunburn, reducing eye puffiness or enlarged pores. It is also a great aftershave tonic for men and can be used as a calming bath herb. For hair, elder provides moisture and nourishment to dry hair and can be found in many shampoos, conditioners or hair rinses.
Elder blossoms are often found as an ingredient in facial steams, cleansers, scrubs, lotions, moisturizers, soaps and toners. Elderflower water, regarded as a natural beauty secret of many women, is traditionally used as a facial toner.