Answers For YOUR Health

      Using Mother Nature's Gifts
Common Sense and Modern Medicine

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The Elder Plant A Healing Herb for All Reasons

The Elder plant is so highly regarded by traditional herbalists and naturopaths that it has gained a reputation as a sort of 'complete medical chest' because of its countless attributes and therapeutic qualities.

There is a long history of folklore that has been attached to this very popular herb. For instance, Galen described the herb as both hot and dry, and in the 17th century the plant was a popular choice for treating problems of excessive phlegm.

The herb was used alternately as a diuretic and as a harsh purgative. In the 18th century, Elder flower water was used as a popular skin whitener that supposedly could remove all the freckles from a person's face.

The Elder plant, scientific name Sambucus nigra, is comprised of several parts that are used by herbalists to create potent remedies.

The flowers and berries of the Elder plant have been described as drying, slightly sweet, cool and sometimes bitter. The flowers are mainly used to help treat problems of excessive phlegm and to encourage sweating.

Many herbalists think of the Elder flower as the ideal herb for treating colds or influenza. Herbal remedies made from the Elder flowers are also used to help control the symptoms of hay fever. They can be ingested as a prophylactic to help strengthen the upper respiratory tract. This should be done before the pollen count rises. The Elder flowers can also be used topically to treat chilblains and as an all around anti-inflammatory. The Elder flowers used for most herbal remedies are traditionally harvested in early summer.

The Elder berries are also used to create herbal remedies. The berries are rich in vitamins A and C when they are ripe. Traditionally the berries have been taken to prevent the onset of winter colds. They are usually harvested in early fall.

The bark of the Elder plant is also used in some herbal remedies. The bark is usually taken to treat chronic, stubborn constipation as well as some arthritic conditions. Herbalists have described the bark of the Elder plant as warm, and it is believed to be effective as a liver stimulant. However, naturopaths and herbalists rarely use the bark of the Elder plant in remedies prepared these days.

There are many ways to prepare the Elder plant in an herbal remedy.

Perhaps the simplest way to ingest the Elder plant is to prepare it in an infusion. As an infusion, the Elder plant can be drunk in a hot tea to treat fevers, mucous conditions of the upper respiratory tract system, and to control the symptoms of hay fever.

Many herbalists combine the Elder plant with other herbs, including boneset, yarrow, and peppermint.

The flowers of the Elder plant can also be used to create a cream that can be applied to chapped skin and skin sores.

For sore or strained eyes, use an eyewash created with Elder flowers to rinse the eyes several times a day.

Elder flowers can also be used to create a mouthwash to treat sore throats, tonsillitis, and mouth ulcers.



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