Sep 122007

 Yep, Elderberry again. Well, it IS that time of year, and I’ve received at least half a dozen Elderberry emails in the last week so I thought I’d write a bit more about one of my very favorite subjects. Angie just sent me some stunning berries from Oregon so I started a new batch of Elixir brewing for the coming cool months, I added a bit of Orange Peel and Ginger this time around for an extra warming (and tasty) Elderberry experience. A batch from earlier this year made with Calamus is incredibly tasty too.

Some of the info below has already been posted here, but I thought I’d put it all together with a few new tips, especially geared towards Elderberry Elixir usage.

  1. Ear Infections (NOT for use with a perforated eardrum) – clears up most ear infections overnight when a few drops are placed in the ear overnight, best when taken concurrently internally.
  2. Nausea. I’ve only had a chance to try this on maybe half a dozen cases as of yet, but it works great so far. I’ve used it on myself dozens of times, especially for hormonally based nausea. Will help settle your stomach if you have the flu, food poisoning etc but not quite as effective that way as for motion sickness, morning sickness etc great combined with Peach and Ginger.
  3. Exhaustion – an instant yet mild lift that’s not stimulating at all, very adaptogen like. Here‘s a lovely article by cancer specialist/herbalist Donald Yance on bioflavanoid rich plants as adaptogens.
  4. Auto-immune disorders or severe immune depletion after long-term antibiotic treatment or other immune dysfunction. I’ve used it for severe immune depletion in children as young as five years old. Probably safe for those much younger but haven’t used it myself long term on very small children. Seems to work very well for Lupus, especially when accompanied by Reishi decoctions.
  5. Viruses, obviously. I’ve gone on about this at some length and won’t repeat myself too much here. Wonderful beyond words, so restorative, healing and fast-acting.
  6. Wounds. It’s a bit sticky with the honey or glycerine in the Elixir but it works just great with a bandage. I like a nice fresh Elderberry salve made with rendered animal fat too, messy but fabulous.
  7. Supportive treatment for adrenal depletion. Works slowly but steadily on the kidneys and adrenals. Don’t have any research to back this up just yet, but experience tells me this plant can be very very helpful in chronic fatigue and adrenal exhaustion. Warm it up with Ginger and Orange peel if there’s a cold constitution involved.
  8. Nearly all internal infections/inflammations. This is probably obvious from the immune applications, but wanted to restate it. Lovely for UTIs, vaginal infections (with Monarda), chronic lung crap (with Mullein), ulcers (with Mallow) and other similar situations. If you’re an Echinacea addict, it works well with it. Supportive to toothaches but won’t fix it, take it with Alder and Oregon Grape Root for more direct results
  9. Hay fever – Strengthens and tones the mucus membranes, modulates the immune system and some other things I don’t understand. Good with Goldenrod and Monarda flower honey.
  10. Vasculitis, and other vascular weaknesses. Lovely combined with Rose hips, Hawthorn berries and Huckleberries for this.

And if you’re new here, the recipe for Elderberry Elixir is right here.

  20 Responses to “10 Reasons to Love Elderberry Elixir”

  1. do you really make elder BERRY salve? or elder leaf/flower salve???

    so just a random kind of interesting, even if annoying piece of info from commerical herbal products industry. a certain company has come up with an extract of elderberry (super critical) that maintains the proanthocyanadins and has scientific ‘studies’ that claim that those proanthocyanadins actually BIND to viral protein coats and renders them unable to attatch to host cells, thus preventing spread/infection of viruses in the host.

    I bet our crude whole plant extracts do that too…even though they wouldn;t want you to think that…


    i was thinking about it, and wondering if perhaps heating/syrup making effects those compounds negatively, which is why you’re finding uncooked preparations better. I’m looking foward to trying my TWO kinds of elderberry elixir this fall/winter!

  2. Yep, with fresh Elderberries, and only with animal fat…. as it doesn’t seem to work well with olive oil for some reason. It’s a traditional recipe that’s been neglected because of how it doesn’t work well with oil infusions.

    Interesting about the research…. LOL they’re so funny with their secret recipes and patented processes… but you’re probably right about the heat process.

  3. you forgot the “picking the elderberries” part, and the “rinsing out the pot” part, where the elderberry residue mixes with the water and changes between flourescent purple and blue colors…

  4. okay…so elderberry ghee?
    i dont have bear fat, but maybe could find some lard around here somehwere… but ghee…easy peeasy…
    wonder if it is the saturated fat part that helps? have you tried coconut?

  5. you’re right, jim, I left out all of the aesthetic amazingness of Elder, I think maybe I need a special post just for that!

    darcey, that’s a good idea…. haven’t tried coconut oil yet, but that sounds like it just might work… have to try that this afternoon maybe!

  6. Hi Kiva! Glad I wasn’t the only one emailing you about elderberry :-). I’m off to attempt Elderberry Elixir but since I don’t have a scale, can you provide an estimate of measurement for volume (for the berries, where you call for 1/2 oz)…

  7. For fresh berries, I would fill the jar with the berries then add brandy and sweetness. For dried I would fill the jar about a third of the way… I mostly just eyeball it, I have a scale but don’t use it very often.

  8. kiva, i’m curious if you ever ended up experimenting with coconut oil in the EB salve and if so, was it as effective as the salve you make with animal fat?

  9. Hi Litha, I tried dried elderberries with coconut butter and it didn’t work worth a damn 🙁

    Fresh elderberries will work better I think. I’m going to try the elderberry ghee next, maybe tomorrow.

    Elderflower oil and salve is easy to make though, even with dried flowers it turns out great.

  10. Hi Kiva- I’ve been looking for info on Elder and have found all of your articles to be most informative and uplifting. I truly enjoy and value your recipes. They make my spirit feel “right.” I hope you can answer my questions. 1.) I try to avoid sugars. Is it ok to make a tincture with alcohol only, or should honey be added? Is honey mainly for flavor or does it actually make the medicine more effective? 2.) Every recipe I find for tinctures is different! Can you give me SPECIFIC MEASUREMENTS for DRIED berries and 100 proof vodka or brandy as well as SPECIFIC MEASUREMENTS for FRESH berries and 100 proof vodka or brandy? 3.) I saw the Elder Spirit in an unexpected and unusual way last October. I understood part of her personal message to me but didn’t understand the complete message until I read your articles. Now, I realize that I would like to try using elderberry tincture as an adaptogen. I ‘ve been wishing for a local adaptogen and had no idea that the “Old Mother” was very possibly what I’ve been looking for. I’m excited and hopeful of the possibilities, but I can’t retrieve the Donald Yance article. Can you give me guidance on how to proceed? Would it be something like 1 dropper per day in the morning, every day? 5.) Does dosage vary, based upon body weight, age, etc.? There is something so exciting about this idea that I almost feel better just thinking about it! Thank you for considering my requests. – Polly

  11. Polly,

    1. There’s no sugar in vegetable glycerine, and it has no effect on blood sugar levels as far as I know. But yes, you can certainly make a simple tincture with elderberries and it will work just the same. Honey does add medicinal value but the lack of it will not impact the effectiveness of the tincture. However, the amount of honey in half a dropperful of elixir is pretty negligible.

    2. Check out my post on tinctures under the medicine making category there on the left for instructions on how to make a tincture. Basically though it’s just 1 part elderberries to 5 parts menstruum by weight, that’s pretty standard.

    3. Elderberry is a very broad and amazing medicine, and can be very helpful when used in a tonic kind of way. Check out my most recent posts for the article I just wrote on adaptogens too. Nettle seed is another common and commonly available adaptogen. It depends on what your body is in need of.

    4. Elderberry is quite non-toxic, and can be used in any reasonable dosage. Half a dropper twice a day might be a good starting point, better to have more small doses than just one large dose of any herb. Yes, dosage varies depending on weight, gender, age etc (but mostly on size and metabolism) but with a nourishing herb like this, you don’t have to worry much. A half a dropperful of tincture is equally safe for a 3 year old, a 30 year old and an 80 year old.

    Thanks for reading,

  12. Hi Kiva, Thanks for advise on Feb 05. Two more questions:

    1.) I’m making a 1:2 tincture with lightly mashed “fresh” frozen elderberries I picked last fall, raw wild honey, and grain alcohol. Should I follow your tincture-making recommendation and use 95% alcohol (for fresh plants) or, since berries are much juicier and “food-like” than other fresh plant parts (such as leaves) should I dilute the alcohol to 50% with distilled water?

    2.) I experimented with taking 1/2 dropperful of elderberry tincture twice a day as an adaptogen/alterative/tonic approach. It feels too skimpy. When I take 1 full dropper twice a day, I can taste it more, which helps me feel more connected to the plant spirit. Is this okay to continue with?


  13. Polly, if you’re doing 1:2 then I would say go with the 95% or nearly (although you could go as low as %50 and still preserve them adequately)… if they’re juicy they’re already going to have a fairly high water percentage them so you don’t need to dilute it further with more water.

    A dropperful twice a day is not an overly large dose if that’s what feels good to you. You could always adjust it as you go along.

  14. Hi quick question.. I noticed you say “dropperful” when recommending dosage. There are many size droppers .. which size are you referring to?
    I currently give in Tsp or Tbsp dosage which I probably too much, I just went by what was on the bottle of the prepared Elixir I bought.

  15. Dee, I’m speaking of a standard once ounce dropper, that’s about 60 drops. 25-30 drops is an adequate dose in most cases, especially for children and yes tsp or tbsp either one is quite a large dose…. but of course it depends on the prepared elixir you bought and how it was made.

  16. 1 Oz is approx 29.5 ml … so basically I have been giving my older daughter (15) and myself 1 oz per day. My younger one has been getting 1/2 that so that would be about what you are reccomending. The baby only got 1 ml per day because I was scared of the honey lol.
    Ill cut the dosage back to what you suggest. I think everyone here is pretty much over the H1N1 now, just me to go:) mothers always take care of themselves last lol.

  17. my almost daughter-in-law told me that she heard that elderberry increases mucous. i’ve not found that to be the case, but she says she was sick and had some lung-gunk (she has asthma) and would not use the elixir i gave her.
    she opted for musinex instead. i’m curious if you’ve ever heard/noticed this?

  18. Linda, mucus is a product of the immune system and aids in clearing pathogens from the resp. tract, so it is certainly possible that in hypoimmunity, elder has the capacity to somewhat increase mucus production in a helpful way. In general, it’s a somewhat drying herb though, so it tends to balance itself out and if it does increase mucus, it usually seems to be needed.

    I tend to think it’s a very bad idea to try to dry up or eliminate mucus in acute viral situations, as it’s there to help, not just as an evil byproduct of the illness.

    And I have often used Elderberry in lung tonics and formulas for asthmatics and it seems to be very helpful in almost all cases.

    Hope that’s helpful 🙂

  19. Hey guys, thought elderberry uncooked was toxic, and the rest of the elder in any form toxic, if taken internally. Does strong alcohol ‘cook’ the toxin?

    • Nope, not entirely true, as even the leaves are used internally as a diaphoretic, although it may cause nausea in some people. There’s toxins in elder like there’s toxins in Peach leaves, may look that way isolated in a lab but doesn’t work that way in our digestive system. If you crush and eat the seeds raw you can end up with nausea or vomiting but I’ve never seen anyone consume enough elixir to have any problem whatsoever, and I’ve often used it with infants and pregnant women. Elderberry in pretty much any form is considered by most midwives and herbalists and textbooks to be safe for pregnant and nursing women, which probably tells you the “toxin” thing isn’t based in reality.

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