First off, who gets the reference in the title? And if you get it, can you NOT think of Monty Python when someone mentions Elderberries?! I know I can’t. For those not in the know, please see this classic clip from Monty Python & The Holy Grail below:
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Elderberries for real. And how they can be a great tool in your anti-cold arsenal.
I can hear you saying it now though: ‘Katie, aren’t Elderberries from Northern Europe? How can they possibly be Ayurvedic?”
That’s an excellent point/question and first, you’re correct. Elderberries originate from Northern Europe but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have Ayurvedic properties. In fact, EVERYTHING has Ayurvedic properties so we can view anything and everything from the lens of Ayurveda. Remember, Ayurveda is simply a practice of bringing your doshic imbalances back into balance (to keep you healthy) so whatever works, right?
So, what’s so great about Elderberries? In short, they’re cute little berries that pack quite a punch. Quick summary:
Elderberries are high in antioxidants, specifically, polyphenols, carotenoids and flavonoids. These all helps protect our cells from damage (self-imposed or environmental). They’re also high in vitamins A, C and E. All good things for fighting off colds and keeping you healthy.
Ayurvedically, they balance all three doshas. (hint: this is good!) More Ayurvedic nerdery here (courtesy of Blue Lotus Ayurveda):
“Effect on Dosha: VPK=
Taste: berry-sweet, sour, bitter/flower-slightly bitter, pungent
Energy: berry-neutral to cooling/ flower-cooling
Post Digestive Effect: berries-sweet/flowers-pungent
Tissues/Dhatus: plasma, blood, muscle, fat
Systems/Srotas: respiratory, immune, digestive, circulatory, urinary
Properties: antioxidant, immune tonic, astringent, expectorant, diaphoretic, digestive, carminative, relaxant.
Indications: coughs, colds, sore throat, tonsillitis, congestion, respiratory infections, asthma, fever, flu, gas, allergies, abdominal discomfort, inflammation, high cholesterol, poor eyesight.
Preparations: infusion, tincture, syrup, winter cordials, medicated wine, food preparation.
Precautions: None for flowers. According to the Botanical Safety Handbook* the unripe and raw fruit contains sambunigrin, which may cause nausea, vomiting or severe diarrhea. Avoid elderberries that are red in color. The fruit is commonly cooked to avoid digestive upset and possible toxicity or the fresh fruit. Sambucus nigra is the variety most commonly used in herbal medicine and is considered to be relatively safe, especially when cooked.”
So good, right? And if you’d like to make your own Elderberry Syrup, check out the recipe below:
(they say the spices are optional but if you to maximize Ayurvedic goodness, don’t leave them out!)
And, as always, I would never recommend forgoing flu shots or ignoring your doctor’s advice for what’s best for you and your family. This recipe is a great supplement to all the other evidence-based measures you’re already deploying! <3