This year's elderberry harvest has been incredible. Already I have put up over two gallons of liquid extract, dried a bunch of berries for tea and have some berries in the freezer to add to jam recipes (whenever I have time to make jam). I am grateful for the abundance of this, my favorite immune building herb. We have come to rely on it as a huge part of our winter wellness routine. We take the elixir daily throughout flu season (it's sweetness makes it easy to administer to children). The tincture effectively aids the body to recover if we should become unbalanced enough to get sick.
Using elder medicine connects us to a long history with this powerful plant, through countless generations of Native Americans and in Europe back to the famous Hippocrates around 400 BC. The berries are high in potassium, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and beta-carotene. They are anti-viral, anticatarrhal (reducing mucous), antiseptic, diuretic, calming, nervine, restorative and tonic. Country folk of old knew the value of this healing plant, and gathered the berries among the stream banks and hedgerows. Nowadays you are lucky if you can find them in the wild, since farmers would rather mow or spray all the wild plants away from the edges of their fields. Perhaps someday the wayside herbs will be valued enough once again for common people to leave a bit of the wild spaces uncontaminated, that we may again gather freely the healing gifts of the earth. Until then, I'll be growing elder in my earthspace, in gratitude for earth medicine.