Have you ever heard of the properties of elderberries? These fruits come from the elder tree, also scientifically known as Sambucus nigra L. , which belongs to the family of the caprofoliáceas and can be found mainly in the forests and riverbanks of different regions of Europe. Although the best known is the black or common elderberry, we can also find other species such as the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) and the lesser elderberry (Sambucus ebulus) among others.
Whatever the species, some parts of this tree such as elderflower and / or its berries or fruits have traditionally been used as ingredients of some natural remedies due to their different medicinal properties.
Nutritional composition of elderberries
The black or common elderberry, also scientifically known as Sambucus nigra L., is a tree native to Europe that belongs to the Caprifoliáceas family. Although one of the parts that can take advantage of this tree are flowers, then we discover the nutritional composition of elderberries:
- Acids: elderberries mainly contain malic acid, citric acid and oxalic acid. To a lesser extent, they also provide linoleic acid and linolenic acid.
- Elderberry essential oil: although the elderflower contains a greater contribution, the berries also have oils such as alpha-terpineol, betulin, geranil and beta-amyrin.
- Vitamins: the fruits of this tree contain vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B7 and C.
- Minerals: it has potassium, iron, calcium, sodium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
- Other nutrients: some of the other nutrients provided by elderberries are fiber, fructose, glucose and flavonoids (anthocyanins and quercitin).
Properties and benefits of elderberries
As we have observed in the previous section, elderberries have a great variety of essential nutrients for health. As a result of this wealth, the fruits of the sambucus nigra are an excellent remedy for different conditions, because they have the following medicinal properties and benefits:
Prevents some heart diseases
The berries of elderberry are the food that has the highest concentration of quercitin, a flavonoid with powerful circulatory properties that help to strengthen both the health of the arteries and our circulatory system. Thanks to these properties, elderberries are one of the best foods for the heart and can prevent diseases such as cholesterol, hypertension and arteriosclerosis.
It is a good remedy for headaches
The fruit of this tree also has excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it is considered a great remedy to reduce the discomfort caused by headaches.
To take advantage of these properties, berries are usually used to make a natural syrup, although for these cases you can also use the essential oil of elderberry. However, it is important that if you are going to make a home remedy such as syrup or elderberry with these berries, always consume them ripe, because those that are still green contain a high dose of sambunigrin, a very toxic principle.
It has astringent properties
Due to its high content of tannins, the berries of the sambucus nigra have powerful astringent properties. And how can we benefit from these properties? Its astringent power gives it, on the one hand, laxative properties that improve some intestinal disorders such as constipation and, on the other hand, prevents the appearance of stomach bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori.
Elderberries for cough
Elderberry is also an excellent remedy to relieve cough and other symptoms such as fever, since it has powerful sudorific and antiviral properties. Thanks to these properties, the infusion of berries and elderflower is an effective remedy to promote the healing of some respiratory infections such as influenza, colds and bronchitis.
Reduces fluid retention
Thanks to its contribution of potassium salts, both elderberry and elderberry berries have excellent diuretic properties that favor the elimination of toxins and liquids accumulated in the body. Due to this benefit, elderberry is an excellent remedy for some conditions such as gout and dropsy.
Hazards and contraindications of elder
Although we have already seen what the elderberry is for and we have discovered that its flowers and its fruits can be a good remedy for different ailments, it is also important that we have certain precautions when consuming flowers or fruits of this tree:
- It is not advisable to use remedies made with the bark, leaves and seeds of this tree: on the one hand, the seeds contain cyanogenetic glycosides (which are generators of cyanide) and, on the other, both the bark and its leaves have with a toxic principle known as sambunigrina.
- Also, fruits that are immature or green should not be used because, as we have seen in the previous section, they also contain sambunigrina.
In addition to its toxicity, elderberry is contraindicated in the following cases:
- Pregnancy and lactation: due to the lack of toxicological studies on the effects during pregnancy and lactation, it is not recommended to consume this plant in these cases.
- People with hypertension, varicose veins or poor circulation: before taking any remedy with elderberry it is recommended that you consult with your doctor, as it could interfere with the medical treatments used for this type of case.