Saturday, July 5, 2008
As the humidity rises in the Ozark air, I can smell the wise mother elder as her blossoms reach out like an umbrella toward the shining sun. I plant myself down under her branches to have lunch with my children. What a pleasant experience of peace and serenity as her aroma fills our space.
She is magical and wonderful adn full of folklore. Her name, ELDER is appropriate. You see, her value is as great as the worth of an elder human.
I know many dont consider older people as valuable, but the older folks have lived through all of lifes twists and turns, and yet they survived. Inside them is wisdom from their experiences which can be helpful to the younger generation if we seek out their secrets.
Elder has many helps for us, if we will turn to her for it.
Gail Faith Edwards shares that grandmothers beleived that you had to build a rapport with elder to get the best energy from her.
She writes that we should find an elder tree and visit it often. When we are in need, respectfully ask permission to use its medicine.
I will be honest, I often gather my elder wild as I find her. The tree in my yard is fairly new and I am allowing her little interferance so I may study her better.
I do thank the trees when I gather. Currently, I am harvesting her flowers to use in winter teas for fevers. You can add this to yarrow or peppermint for this if you want.
I also made up a lovely oil from her precious flowers, and have already used it up in my beautiful lotions, baby balms, and solid perfumes. Next year, I will tincture more, and also make elder water for skincare.
Elder is astringent and helps tighten pores.
It is also good for a mouth rinse, healing sore throats, mouth sores and inflammation of the gums.
I have heard of its use for conjunctivitis and sore eyes, even whent here is twitching, by washing the eyes with elder flower infusion.
The flowers act on permeating kidney cells and by the flowers acting on it, heat is cleared through the urinary tract. Toxic buildup can be released.
Ironically, elder is stimulant and relaxant.
Stimulant in the case of fast acting. May bring energy.
Relaxant in regards to bronchial spasms, sinus problems and excess phlegm. It also relaxes the nerves and helps some folks sleep. An infusion of the blossoms taken of the green stems is what is used.
Elder is alterative, which means it can help renew the health of an unhealthy organ or blood.
Alteratives usually help imbalance and bring life to the entire body.
High in bioflavanoids, and vitamin c, the flowers and berries are also antiviral and immune stimulating.
A hot tea of either will help you sweat out a fever, however most of us like the berries for syrup.
Cold tea is used as a diuretic.
Most common complaints calling for elder is upper respiratory tract.
When we talk about upper respiratory, think of things that happen kind of above the neck. Laryngitis,sinus problems, tonsilitis as well as flu and common colds.
The berries contain a flavanoid called procyanidins which is antioxidant and very similar to the positives found in red wine.
More potent in antioxidants as a matter of fact than vitamin c and e.
Procyanidins help strengthen cappillary walls, maintain collagen for healthy young skin, reduce histamine which may prevent allergies, and more. This is the same flavanoid praised in grapes, cocoa, bilberry, pine bark and other fruits.
The berries can be toxic if taken in large amounts uncooked. The safest varieties are Sambucus canadensis, Sambucus caerulea and Sambucus nigra which are dark purple or black berries.
The red berries from other varieties of Sambucus are most toxic so look for the dark berries kind.
Most herbalist I know use their berries in tea or syrup. All herbalist using elder only have positive experience with this plant.
Maybe that is why the grandmothers wanted to know their elders before using..to earn her good graces:)
The berries also are rich in vitamin a. They also contain laetrile, which has been discussed for years as a cancer cure.
The color of the berries are from water soluble pigments of the proanthocyanins which also prevents build up of uric acid. This is good for gout and rheumatism.
Too many, and you will be running to the bathroom, because they are laxative in a good amount.
Dont let this deter you from enjoying the berries, however. That has never happened to my family. You probably need alot, but it is good to know that it can get things going.
And of course, the famous elderberry wine. One year I look forward to making my own. I have tried some locally, but it was far too sweet for my tastes.
Wine, syrup, tea...all useful and nutritive medicine.
The roots, leaves and stem are safe to use externally. The leaves can be made into strong tea and sprayed onto plants to deter aphids and caterpillars according to Gail Faith.
If you take elder bark internally, you will be very sick. It is highly purgative!
But you can make an oil with it and create a salve good for burns and ulcers.
Some native American indians used bark for toothaches, even fresh however.
Magical and ritual use is wide with this beautiful herb. Elder flower can be burned in ritual, and the stories are vast and wide as to how to use the plant magically.
The emotional healing of flower essence of elder is energy stimulation, vigor, resilience, joy, and our power of recovery and energy renewal.
So when you run into a beautiful stand of elder, caress the umbel and allow your nose to inhale the beauty of our mother elder.
Her pollen will stick to your nose and will make you smile.