A Guide to Elderflower Benefits & Uses: Your Secret Powerhouse
When you think of herbal medicine, elderflower isn’t usually the first botanical to come to mind, but we’ll show you why it should. This lesser-known blossom has a plethora of benefits and versatile uses that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle and become a better you!
This lesser-known blossom has a plethora of benefits and versatile uses that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle and become a better you! By the end of this article you’ll know what a true powerhouse elderflower is and learn the subtle distinctions between elderflower and its more commonly known counterpart, elderberry.
The Elderberry Flower
Meet the Elderflower Tree
You might be asking yourself, what is elderflower? Scientifically known as Sambucus nigra, elderflower is the blossom of the elder tree, a plant native to Europe. This tree’s small, white flowers can be identified by their flat tops and found in sweet-smelling clusters, blooming in early summer. The elderflower plant holds a myriad of benefits, making it popular in medicinal communities.
What is Elderflower Good For?
Elderflower is a great go-to herb for when you’re feeling under the weather and need to nip your sickness in the bud. Elderflower’s rich amount of antioxidants and vitamins boost your immune system, arming it in the fight against common colds and the flu.
This powerful herb also contains anti-catarrhal properties that help the body rid itself of excess mucus. Elderflower’s anti-inflammatory quality makes it a natural choice for respiratory health. From soothing coughs to relieving sinus congestion, elderflower is a great addition to any respiratory remedy.
Elderflower’s ability to enhance blood circulation promotes better cardiovascular health. Research also suggests it may play a role in reducing cholesterol levels, which helps support overall heart function.
The flower’s natural astringent properties help tighten and tone the skin, while its anti-inflammatory properties calm irritation, making it a valuable addition to any skincare routine.
Elderflower has diuretic properties, meaning it may increase urine production. This can be helpful for individuals with mild fluid retention, helping the body eliminate excess fluids. It’s important to use elderflower with caution, especially for those with existing kidney conditions.
For centuries, elderflower teas and elixirs have been used to calm upset stomachs and aid in digestion. This powerful herb can also help with indigestion, bloating, and mild gastrointestinal discomfort.
The comprehensive benefits of elderflower go far beyond its small appearance. This little bloom packs a punch!
Elderflower tea is commonly used to support respiratory and immune health. Prepare the tea by steeping one to two teaspoons of dried elderflowers in a cup of boiling water, let it steep for about 10 minutes, then strain out the flower bits. If you like your tea on the sweeter side, you can add a bit of honey.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to protect yourself during cold and flu season, this syrup is it! To make elderflower syrup, simmer a handful of elderflowers with water and sugar, and then strain the thickened liquid. This syrup allows you to enjoy the benefits of elderflower stirred into your favorite beverage or drizzled on top of dessert!
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that are great to have around during cold and flu season, especially when made with an herb as dynamic as elderflower. To create, combine dried elderflowers with a high-proof alcohol, such as vodka, and let it steep for several weeks in a dark, cool place. Strain the liquid, and store the tincture in a dark glass bottle.
Elderflower Steam Inhalation
Inhaling elderflower steam can provide quick relief from congestion and irritated airways, and give overall respiratory support. All you need to do for this at-home spa-like treatment is add dried elderflowers to a hot bowl of water, cover your head with a towel, and breathe.
While elderflower is generally considered safe when used appropriately, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist before incorporating it into your health regimen, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications. If it’s your first time using elderflower, be mindful of any potential allergies or adverse reactions.
What Does Elderflower Taste Like?
The taste of elderflower is a balanced blend of sweetness and herbiness. It has subtle floral notes and a hint of citrus; it is also known for having flavors similar to pear and lychee. The taste of elderflower is mild enough to not overpower but strong enough to add character, making it a delightful addition to herbal remedies.
Elderberry vs Elderflower
Is Elderflower the Same as Elderberry?
While their names and origin are similar, elderberries and elderflowers are distinct in their characteristics. Elderberries are the small, dark bluish-purple fruits that follow the blooming of elderflowers. They have a unique flavor profile and have been described as slightly sweet, tart, and earthy.
Is Elderberry Edible?
In short, elderberries are edible, however it’s crucial to note that they should be properly cooked or processed before consumption. Raw elderberries contain certain compounds that can be mildly toxic, so cooking or drying them ensures their safety for consumption.
Just like elderflowers, elderberries are celebrated for their rich array of benefits. Bursting with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, elderberries contribute to immune system support, offering a strong defense against common ailments. Research suggests that consuming elderberries when sick can reduce symptoms and the length of illness. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties play a role in promoting cardiovascular health, making elderberries a versatile component of overall well-being.
The elderberry is a top contender for being one of the best, quick sick fixes. Like the elderberry flower, elderberries can be used to make health-boosting syrups, teas, and tinctures. These herbal remedies have been known to not only reduce the severity of symptoms, but shorten the duration of illness.
Embracing Elderflower and Elderberry
In the world of herbal medicine, the elderflower and the elderberry are significant and impactful botanicals to try incorporating into your life. From immune support to skincare to heart health, these plants provide meaningful contributions to health and overall well-being.
As you journey further into the world of herbal medicine and remedies, discover the wealth of knowledge shared by certified herbalist Brianna Cherniak in our herbal medicine course. Brianna dives into more herbal icons, taking you deeper into the realm of herbalism.