Health Benefits of Elderberries and Their Uses

Jun 28, 2021


Elderberries are popular for their health benefits for good reason. Learn about these benefits, medicinal uses, and additional uses you may not already know! 

I've created a video for you, so feel free to watch this, or continue reading for more info!



Can I Grow My Own Elderberries?

Elderberries are a versatile plant growing like a tree or a shrub in subtropical climates mainly in the northern hemisphere. They attract butterflies and birds and add diversity to an orchard which will help cut down on harmful bugs and disease. 

I purchased elderberry bushes in the discount section (AKA half-dead) at my local nursery, and they proved to be very resilient and are doing well. If you find yourself in a more urban setting, elderberry bushes can also be used as ornamentals. 

Elderberries (known botanically as Sambucus Nigra) have two common names, the black elder or the European elder. The trees can reach up to 60 feet in height, which can make harvesting the flowers and berries difficult. If you are growing elderberries to harvest, I would recommend opting for the bushes.



When Do You Harvest Elderberries?

Depending on your climate, elderberries are ready to pick in late spring through early summer, and for more northern climates can even last into late summer. 

But don’t forget about the elderflowers! You can harvest and use elderflowers in early to late spring, and the flowers have wonderful medicinal properties as well. Just know that if you harvest all the flowers on your elderberry bush or tree, you won’t have any berries that year. 



What are Common Uses for Elderberries and Elderflowers?

Both the elderberry and the elderflower can be harvested and used for food, medicinal purposes, and even household projects.

  • Food - Elderberries make delicious jams, jellies, and syrups to use on pancakes and waffles, and the elderflower can be used as a tea.
  • Medicine - Elderflower tea can be used to treat fevers, ear infections, the common cold, flu (influenza virus), nervous conditions such as stress and anxiety, and can be used topically as wash for skin issues. Elderflowers can alternately be prepared as an oil infused tincture to use in salves and creams for skin conditions as well. The elderberry fruit can be made into a juice or elderberry extract to be used to make immune boosting lozenges, gummies, and syrup to treat colds, the flu, respiratory illnesses, and herpes.
  • Household Projects - Elderberries can be used as a dye for food coloring, wool, yarn, fabrics, and even Easter eggs!



What are the Health Benefits of Elderberries?

Elderberries have a cooling and drying action to them. They are a great source of bioflavonoids, vitamin C, and antioxidant properties to support the eyes, skin, and nervous system, calms inflammation, acts as a diuretic, and boosts immunity.  

Combined with antiviral and anti-histamine properties, they are excellent to use when warding off or fighting a respiratory infection such as colds and the flu!

They are also diaphoretic and promote sweating which can aid in bringing down a fever. 

Elderberries stimulate the immune system, kicking it into high gear which is what makes it known for fighting off cold and flu symptoms. Stimulating the immune system before getting a cold and flu can also help in keeping them at bay to begin with. 

Our family’s favorite way to stimulate the immune system with an elderberry supplement is with medicinal herb-infused elderberry syrup

The herbs can be omitted to make a syrup to use for cooking purposes, but the addition of the medicinal herbs makes for a great daily supplement (combined with a healthy diet) to build up the immune system.

Elderberry Syrup is just one tool in our cold and flu-fighting kit. There are so many other wonderful herbs that we love to put to use in our home and we make sure that we keep a stash of them on hand. 

Many of those are included in our Growing Herbal Teas eBook as well as the ones that we use from Homesteading Family's Healthy Healing at Home free online course.

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