Monday, May 23, 2016

Elderberry in Permaculture, Remedies

Home Remedies

Elderberry growing in the wild is lost to most of us. An ancient medicinal and a tree revered in olden times, it's easy to grow at home. Plant it in moist good soil, and jump back! 

Does it seem a bit precious, a cottage garden of Grandmother lore, when we've grown accustomed to 6-packs of petunias?

Why bother planting a shrubby tree, a rambling blossomer with edible fruit, a more usual target for suburban bulldozing?

"Permaculture" would be one answer, landscaping for fruit, berries and nuts, instead of topiary! We can save the fruitful wildings as asphalt encroaches.

An edible landscape can also be a beautiful one, generally more curvaceous and nook-ish than monocrop straight lines, or lawn and clipped hedge.

Think: Secret Garden. Fragrance and fruitfulness are possible small-scale, in tiny urban yards, on rooftops, or hidden country gardens

Some communities actually protect wild fruitful land. I used to love a camping adventure--to pick wild blackberries on the Mendocino Village Commons, with the Pacific crashing on the cliffs below and sea fog at dawn. 

Through all of human history, plants which produce food grow family/community wealth and well-being. Children can grow up amidst the wonder of seasons, flower to fruit. 

Bees love the fragrant flower heads of elderberry, and humans love the delicious berries as juice or country wine. 

The healing syrup is pricey in pharmacies and health food stores; we could make our own.
Commercial elderberry syrups often are named with a derivation of the botanical genus, Sambucus.

Syrups are selling very well in flu season, efficacy rewarded by business niche! Elderberry syrup is medically documented as anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. 

The more usually prescribed antibiotics are not anti-viral, though expected/demanded by patients.
North American elderberry grows from Canada to northern Mexico. If gathering in the wild, learn from an outdoorsperson, Native American, or botany field trip leader. 

Enticing dark purple berries do not suggest: "Eat-me"... Alice.

In the photo below, a poisonous American medicinal, pokeweed, on the left also has purple fruit, a stalk of them. Elderberry on the right has sprawling berries from a flat blossom head, and opposite leaves, a further clue

Pokeweed is just one confuser. Walk with a foraging pro, plant your own elderberry or use dried berries. Live long and well.

Have you ever sipped elderberry fruit juice? Or the country wine? Delectable, though a mess to make, with harvest-purple fingers and mouth, but deeply rewarding!
The flowers of elderberry are an old remedy included in formulae to reduce fevers, to bring on sweating and healing sleep.

A classic formula would be 1 Tbs each of the following herbs steeped five minutes in a liter of water:

Elderflowers  (Sambucus canadensis or S. nigra)
Yarrow  (Achillea millefolium)
Peppermint  (Mentha piperita)

In the case of high fever, a liter is drunk hot, perhaps sweetened with honey, and the covers piled on. Profuse sweating is likely to follow.

Yarrow in the febrifuge is stunningly bitter and made more palatable by the mint which helps calm a likely upset tummy.

This protocol can be effective though bold. A cup could also be sipped at hourly intervals for less dramatic intervention.

I first experienced elderflowers as a confection in Sweden. In high summer in the profusion of wild  blossoming, elderflowers are gathered, tea made and a syrup conserved. 

Ice cream made with the syrup is ambrosial, a sensory astonishment, as though able to taste an olfaction.

Elderflower water from the tea is a skin tonic, yellow and fragrant after a period of aging: Gathering and Using Elderflowers to Make Lotions for Beautiful Skin ...

So, what if we just are not able to wander wild creek bottoms, or stroll a European lake path, or plant the small tree to gather fresh berrries in autumn? 

Good news: The dried berries do very well.

And for those of us struggling with the imposed uniformity of towns-against-gardens or nutsi Homeowners Associations, you can abide by outer regimentation, and still be kitchen-creative with the dried berries.

Here's a lovely and easy recipe from Wellness Mama:

Serves: 1 quart
  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

 See also
Organic Farm Stories
& Recipes


At May 23, 2016 at 6:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a precious prescription from a wise and worldly medicine woman! Tried and true. Always sharing, always caring for others and our fragile planet. What a blessing you continue to be. Eternal love to you sweet, beautiful woman...just cuz!!


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