Herb of the Year for 2013 is Elderberry

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) was an interesting choice for herb of the year 2013. Each year the International Herb Association puts the focus on a worthy herb and, as they said, “It’s time to respect your Elder”. These are attractive shrubs, but more than that, they are useful and very versatile. The flowers and berries can be used to make tea, syrup and even medicinal tinctures. Of course, you could grow them just for their ornamental value and let the birds and bees enjoy the rest.


Overview of Elderberry:

Elderberry is used as a delicious remedy for the flu. It prevents the flu virus from attaching to our cells and therefore, it shortens the duration and severity of the flu.

Botanical Name: Sambucus nigra

Common Name: Elderberry

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4-7

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Harvest : The elder flowers should be harvested once they are all opened. The intense fragrance is actually relaxing, as is the tea. The berries will be ready to harvest when they are a rich dark purple/black.

Uses:  Elderberry is extremely useful for fighting the flu. It contains compounds that keep the flu virus from attaching to the cell, so it can shorten the duration of your illness and possibly lesson the severity.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is delicious and super healthy. This recipe is for medicinal syrup that can be used to fight flu and viruses. Elderberries are said to increase immunity, and they are a rich source of bioflavonoids, antioxidants and potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup dried elderberries (or one cup fresh)

1/2 to 1 cup honey

1 TBL cinnamon

5  whole cloves

2 TBL fresh grated ginger

2 cups water boiling water

Optional ingredients; 1 Tbsp lemon juice, vodka or brandy


1.  Put elderberries, clove, ginger, and cinnamon and water into a sauce pan and brin

g to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes reducing the volume of liquid by half.

3. Strain out the berries and herbs.

4. Place the liquid back into the pan and heat only until warm enough to melt the honey. Add in the honey to taste (and lemon juice if using) and stir until combined. You may also add a few tablespoons of vodka or brandy to enhance flavor and for preservation.

5. Once thoroughly combined, just place into a storage jar and keep in the fridge! The Syrup will keep fine for up to 2 months in fridge.

To use the elderberry syrup, give one to two teaspoons at the first sign of a cold, sore throat, flu or other viral illness. The dose can be repeated every two to three hours. Please note that honey should not be given to children under two years old.

Elderberry is a very old, well-known cold and flu remedy in Europe. It contains bioflavonoids and antioxidants as well as potassium, beta carotene, calcium,phosphorus and vitamin C.

Cold and Flu teaelderberry tea

1 part Elderberry

1 part Chamomile

1 part Rose Hip

1 part Yarrow

1 part Peppermint

Add 1 tbsp of the mixture per cup of water you plan to use. Pour boiling water on herbs and let steep 5 to 15 minutes. Remember the longer you steep the more benefit you will see from the tea.

Please note: The information contained here is made available with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering medical, health, psychological, or any other kind of personal professional services. The information should not be used in place of a call or visit to a medical, health or other competent professional, who should be consulted before adopting any of the suggestions here or drawing inferences from it. The information about the herbal preparation is general in nature. It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the medicines mentioned, nor is the information intended as medical advice for individual problems or for making an evaluation as to the risks and benefits of taking a particular drug. We specifically disclaim all responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the material.

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About Airmeith Naturals

Anna has over 25 years of experience working with herbs. She trained as a chef specializing in classical French cuisine. Anna has extensive knowledge of herbs used in cooking, as well as having researched the historic use of culinary herbs & spices. She is a Certified Community Herbalist who has completed multiple apprenticeships and classes with renowned Herbalists along with her own studies. Her concentration is in Western European Herbal Practices. She has attended college for Environmental Science as well as earning her certificate in Massage Therapy and is licensed in the state of Massachusetts. In addition, Anna is a Certified Reiki Master Teacher. Anna lives in Western Massachusetts with her family and has over an acre of gardens to play in. Anna is the herbalist at Airmeith Naturals in Holyoke Massachusetts
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