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Natural Benefits of Elderflower

The elder has been used for four thousand years and is reportedly the oldest herb cultivated by man.

Nearly all herbal books refer to the elder as “the medicine chest of the country folk”.

For over 4,000 years, natural healers have relied on elderflower to treat asthma and allergies in the days before “modern” medication; and as an expectorant to clear catarrh.

The elder is a common shrub found in woods, gardens and along river banks. During late spring and early summer its clusters of small white flowers emit an intensive scent most powerful in the evening.

Today, scientists and doctors are discovering the secrets behind this powerful healing herb. Traditionally used for detoxification purposes, elderflower may also help strengthen the immune system by clearing the lymph nodes.

In spring, elderflower concentrate, also known as elderflower cordial, is used to relieve the symptoms of allergies to pollens etc; they are sweat-inducing, which helps to resolve fever and infection, and they reduce congestion which often accompanies sinusitis and hay fever, without any side effects.

A cold infusion made from these flowers can be used as an eye wash in case of conjunctivitis or as a compress to relieve chilblains. The infusion can also be used as a gargle in case of tonsillitis and sore throats.

Elderflower tea was used as a blood purifier; and as a tonic or ointment to fade freckles or skin blemishes. Many modern skin tonics still contain elderflowers.

Recent research has, however, confirmed the efficacy of the elderberry in reducing the strength and duration of coughs and colds, possibly due to their vitamin C. Elderberries are one of the highest sources of anti-oxidants (along with blueberries and cranberries), they are full of flavanoids, amino acids, carotenoids, tannins and vitamins.

According to the Maryland Medical Centre, elderflower contains powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent free radical damage. The herb is comprised of several essential vitamins, including Vitamin A, the B-1, B-2, and B-3 complex, and Vitamin C. A combination of these vitamins and phytochemicals, like flavonoids and quercetin, give elderflower its anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antiviral properties. The herb is also an effective diuretic, laxative, and insect-repellent.

Many foods derived from animal fats release free radicals in the body. Free radicals can damage cell reproduction, causing profound changes linked with an increase risk for cancer. The powerful antioxidants in elderflower fight back against free radicals, neutralizing these toxins before significant cellular damage occurs.

For centuries, dried flowers on the elderberry shrub have been used to create a healthy, restorative tea. Sipping on hot elderflower has a natural calming effect on the mind, leaving you centred and relaxed after a stressful day.

When preparing elderflower tea, only use the dried flowers. Elderflower’s bark leaves and seeds contain a toxic chemical that’s related to cyanide. That’s hardly the detoxification aid your body needs! Keep in mind that elderflower has diuretic properties, so drinking more than one cup of tea per day may lead to unanticipated consequences!