The last few weeks of the summer school holidays were a time of elderberry picking here at Tempus Tonics! The hot weather made the berries flavoursome and juicy. We are looking forward to the capturing this goodness in our Berry ACV Tonics and enjoying it for many months to come.
Elder trees are found throughout temperate and subtropical regions of the world. They are especially common in Europe and the UK where a mass of folklore, tradition and superstition surround them. Elder was so commonly known that the famous botanist and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1664) once declared it unnecessary to write any description of it!
History tells us all parts of the plant had a use. Elder wood was used for making pegs, skewers, needles, musical instruments, pop-guns and more. Elder leaves were used to deter pest insects from attacking vulnerable plants. Apparently the smell of bruised elder leaves also repels mosquitoes and midges.
In folklore it seems to be associated with protection against evil spirits. In England the tree was often planted near cottages and elder leaves would be fixed to doors and windows to prevent witches from entering.
Customary recipes include uses for the flowers as well as the berries. Elderflower Vinegar is a traditional remedy for a sore throat. Elderberry wine and Elderberry “Rob” (like a cordial syrup) are also well established traditional treatments for coughs, colds and influenza.
The berries are still used by herbalists today to provide antiviral, antioxidant and immune support.
Nowadays we know elderberries contain anthocyanins (that produce the beautiful dark purple colour) and flavonols. These flavonoids have a 3 ring structure that helps them to act as antioxidants.
Antioxidant is a generic term that refers to any compound that can inhibit or reduce oxidation. Natural chemical reactions in our cells produce free radicals and our body neutralises these with antioxidants before they cause too much damage.
These phytochemicals have also shown antiviral and antibacterial activities which explains the long established use of elderberries in natural immune supportive remedies.
During the summer we love finishing a hot busy day with a dash of our Berry ACV Tonic in some lightly sparkling water. So refreshing!