Elder is an invasive tree or shrub spread throughout most of the world. it can be found in cold climates like Canada and Scandanavian countries, as well as tropical areas of Central and South America as well as throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. It's even frequently found in remote areas like the Pacific Islands.
Elder has many uses, especially for upper respiratory infections for its antitussive and antiviral activity. As an antiviral, it has a fairly narrow range of efficacy, which is specific to enveloped viruses like influenza, and will only have a potent effect in the early stages of viral infection. For this it is highly effective however, and is one of the best herbs to keep around in in the event of an acute infection.
Main Herbal Actions:
- Emetic (high doses)
- Nervine (leaves)
Used in the acute stage of respiratory infection, as a diaphoretic or emetic, coughs, and arthritis.
Flowers and berries
In some cases the leaves, bark, and roots can also be used with caution.
Invasive the world over. Common in North America, Western Asia, Europe, The Pacific Islands, and Austalia.
Sambucus australasica and Sambucus gaudichaudiana (Australian white elder) are found primarily in Australia and South America.
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Constituents of Interest
- Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs)
- Black Elder
- European Elder
There are about 30 different species of elder, 3 of which are most commonly used as medicine. The common names for these species includes blue elder (Sambucus nigra), red elder (Sambucus racemosa), and white elder (Sambucus australasica).
Clinical Applications Of Elder:
Elder is a great antiviral herb, especially for Influenza and some of the other enveloped viral species if used at the early stages of infection.
Elder is an emetic, especially in preparations that contain fresh plant material (unheated). If nausea occurs, dial back the dose. Contrary to popular belief elder is NOT posionous. Emetics are frequently misinterpreted to be dangerously poisonous.
Elder is thought to decrease the effectiveness of morphine.